Sunday, March 11, 2007

Touch the Earth

The storm that ravaged the greater part of southeastern North America last week left cities paralyzed and commuters stranded. The dramatic reminder that it is still winter, at least in this part of the world, also brought a rash of political cartoons about the veracity of global warming. Some would have us believe that the recent frigid blast from Old Man Winter is enough for us to crank up the thermostat and literally throw caution to the wind about rising carbon dioxide levels.

What happened last week should have been a very sober wake up call. We have become so very good at insulating ourselves from everything that isn’t a perfectly controlled environment, we have forgotten how very little we actually have control over. We are a very tiny part of a huge, diverse and magnificent whole. And while human activity is having a dramatic impact on that whole, we have no way of controlling what the ultimate result of that activity will be.

Essentially, we are victims of our own success. Our isolation has lead to a complete disregard for the biosphere that sustains us. Too cold? Crank up the heat, or better yet, hop on a jet and fly to somewhere warm. Too hot? Crank up the air conditioner. Hungry? Visit a restaurant or go grocery shopping where you can have your choice of tens of thousands of items from virtually every corner of the globe. Need to get somewhere? Hop in a thermostatically controlled vehicle that provides comfort, protection and even entertainment for the journey.

If we are ever to get our heads around the idea that we are part of the greater whole, then we need to make a conscious effort to reconnect with it. Like any healthy change of behavior, such as starting an exercise program, losing weight or quitting smoking, it will take a little discipline to get going. But once you get started, the benefits quickly become their own reward.

If you need a little help, here are a few suggestions:

Watch the sunrise. Bundle up, step outside and focus on the horizon as the sky slowly turns from pale grey to bright pink. As the sun cracks the horizon like a giant egg, try to remember that a single modest star 150,000 kilometers from Earth, heats and lights our entire planet.

Study the intricacies of a single leaf. We can create magnificent gardens, plant forests, landscape entire cities, but we still can’t make a single leaf, let alone a tree.

Count the fingers and toes of a newborn baby. Those tiny, perfect little pink pearls will one day be the tools that will be able to write, run, create, walk, dance and hold the next generation in their grasp.

Take a conscious shower. Try to visualize the system that makes such a luxury possible: the massive infrastructure of filtration and purification systems that takes 4.5 billion year old water and prepares it for your use, the pressurized water pipes and plumping that bring that water into your home; the system that heats that water, whether it be by natural gas that’s pumped across the country, or by electricity that’s generated by massive nuclear or fossil fuels plants, and finally the sewage system that effortlessly whisks the water down the drain when you’re finished.

Dig in the dirt and marvel at its ability to nourish life. That a brilliant red tulip can come from dark brown soil is nothing short of a miracle.

Lie on your back and try to count the stars.

Take a long walk on a cold day until the chill permeates your clothing. Remember that we are only ever a pane of glass and a wall of brick away from that cold.


The (Bio) Daversity Code is the latest parody from the creative geniuses at Free Range Studios. The animated short, which is available online at, explains our connection to the web of life. It’s funny, smart and absolutely on the mark. While adults will appreciate the references to The DaVinci Code, kids can quickly learn about the importance of biodiversity. The website also offers a more serious explanation about the importance of such key ecological treasures as the coral reefs and the mangrove forests. Great for family viewing over the March break.

If you enjoy the (Bio)Daversity Code, check out other Free Range Studios’ parodies, including The Meatrix, The Meatrix 2 and The Meatrix II 1/2.


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