If you think the whole world has gone nuts, you may be right. According to some psychiatric theories, one symptom of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. That description sums up an amazing amount of the political and social activity swirling around us continuously as we scramble to ward off some impending catastrophe or other predicted by the doomsayer du jour.
Sometimes it’s good to take a break from all the political debates and the petty squabbles of the mental midgets involved, and consider the futility of it all. A good place to start is with the realization that living is hazardous to our health and breathing is bad for the environment. Life can kill you, and it always does. Have you ever known a healthy, happy “health nut”. I haven’t. I’m sure they are out there; I have just never known one. Many that I have met in my lifetime are long dead, if not forgotten. Furthermore, the health regimen you follow today may be the one that is credited with killing you tomorrow as new discoveries are made by the “scientific” community.
Admittedly, science is one of the most useful fields of knowledge known to man, but keep in mind that science consists of knowledge gained from discovery, not creation. Science has never created anything; it has only discovered new ways of using what has always been there. Quite often, the scientific fact of today becomes the scientific oddity of tomorrow. The “static universe” theory gives way to the “big bang” theory. The “flat earth” gives way to the “globe” and so on, as we advance in our techniques of studying what is around us.
Take the ongoing controversy over creationism vs. evolution. The sacred theory of the evolutionist is, “In the beginning there was nothing, and the nothing exploded and became all the wondrous things that make up the universe today.” The sacred theory of the creationist is, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” One theory is just as provable as the other is, although, creationism is the only one that provides an adequate explanation for the simultaneous development of the sexes. Meanwhile, the earth keeps right on spinning in its orbit, oblivious to the entire controversy.
Another big controversy of today is the one concerning the burning of “fossil” fuel, and the religious environmentalists’ fears that in the burning, we are destroying the planet. Meanwhile, the earth keeps right on spinning in its orbit, heating and cooling, according to its own needs, oblivious to the entire controversy.
Of all the discoveries made by man, none has had a more profound effect on our lives than the discovery of petroleum. Less than a generation after the first successful oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania, Thomas Edison almost put the fledgling industry out of business with his invention of the electric light, and probably would have if someone had not invented the automobile. The panic surrounding the use of “fossil fuels” has two sources. One, that it is a finite source of energy that will soon be exhausted. The other is that we will destroy the planet through global warming before we actually do exhaust the supply.
Both concerns are more politically based than reality based and in the end only serve to remind us of the unlimited arrogance of man and the infinitesimal amount of true knowledge he actually possesses. An example of the deficiency in our knowledge can be found in the question: Where does oil come from? Ask the first person you see, and he will tell you it comes from the decayed remains of organisms that lived on the earth millions of years ago. “That’s why they call it ’fossil fuel’, dummy”. You may be surprised to learn that even this “scientific fact” is a matter of controversy. I know I was.
In 1950, the Soviet Union was one of the most “oil poor” nations on earth. In spite of the diligent exploration by its best geologists, its oil reserves were practically non-existent. Today, Russia is one of the leading petroleum exporting countries in the world. What happened? Did they discover a new dinosaur graveyard? Nope. Some of their scientist simply began to question the “scientific consensus” as to the origin of petroleum. In a non-scientific “nutshell”, they argued that the formation of oil deposits required pressures found only in the earth’s deep mantle, and the prevailing theories of “fossil fuels” did not adequately account for the massive deposits discovered in the supergiant oil fields of the world.
According to their hypothesis, Oil deposits are formed in the deep mantle of the earth from inorganic materials and leech their way upwards through cracks in the earth’s crust. Using this new hypothesis, they returned to places where it had previously been determined oil could not possibly exist due to the absence of the required rock formations. This time as the saying goes “they struck oil” and the rest is history.
This new theory of oil formation is known as the “abiotic” theory and, of course, is disputed by most western geologist, although “it’s hard to argue with success“. For those who may be interested in delving further into the theory of abiotic oil formation, a good place to start would be: www.enviroliteracy.org. My purpose here is not to dwell on the theory, but simply to point out that we do not always know that which we think we know, and those things we know for sure are often wrong.
That in itself is enough to help me not to get all worked up over the threats of trans-fats, second hand smoke, refined sugar, greenhouse gases, the changing climate, and all the other dire warnings we are bombarded with ad infinitum on a daily basis.