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Cold War?

    I lived in Lincoln, Nebraska for four and a half years, during my most formative teen development. I began to reach conclusions and have ideas that were at odds with my conservatively religious parents'. I began to doubt the story of Jonah being swallowed by a whale and regurgitated in good shape. The story of man's beginning was another, as more fossils of early humanoids were found and mitochondria and DNA theories were being tested and conclusions formed. Another was the story of Noah's Ark. If I was an early thinking human, and on mountaintops I found preserved seashells and fossils of coral and fish bones, what other conclusion would I come to, other than a great flood had at one time covered the earth. I often explored the Salt River flood plain, west of our home. A mile west was rocky earth, and it had been built up to construct a highway, and then even more a little bit away to build a rail line parallel to the road. A half mile further, as the Lincoln industrial area had spread west, a tributary was carved deeply to carry drainage from the factories; eventually it fed into the Salt River. This and the carved-out valleys between them all served as further drainage for all of southwestern Lincoln, except when it REALLY flooded.

    One thing that impressed me greatly was the huge quantities of shark's teeth excavated, some quite large, and even attractive small pieces of fossilized bones. Obviously, here in the mid plains, there had at one time been an ocean. If it covered Nebraska, it must have also covered the whole plains states. Soon after I learned more about ice ages, irregularities in the orbit and tilt of the earth. I learned about the movements of tectonic plates and the effect of resulting earthquakes and volcanoes. I read about meteorites and comets colliding with earth, and the results. I read about mammoths that died of cold, and froze with grass still in their mouths and stomachs. The University of Nebraska had an impressive museum; at least one floor was given over to reconstructed preserved bones, not only of mammoths but dinosaurs, some as tall as a two or three story building. Many had been excavated on the plains, which were obviously at one time a hot, humid jungle. Was all this long in the past? Not altogether; the first humans to cross the Bering Straits and settle in the North Americas hunted and ate mammoths, using their bones for various purposes, until with climate change and hunting sent them to extinction. It is suspected that saber-tooth tigers also co-existed with mankind. Obviously some changes came quickly; some took many decades or thousands of years. Extinction of many species has occurred in our lifetime and that of our recent ancestors and is increasing. Most were entirely natural due to the movement of the earth itself; some were caused by collisions. But never before was a major change triggered by man. The first suspicion I had was in the Lincoln library when I was studying the bell curve as it applied to many natural things, and the author extended the the figure to count the geometric growth in population, of animals, plants, even people. We humans are still on the upward curve, but for how long? This, and reading Margaret Mead, Pearl Buck and others, was a major changing point in my thinking about many things.

    In many major cities the pollution now is so great that people have to wear masks to filter out large particles emitted by factories. Many die from pollution anyway, or have their lives cut short. We are poisoning the ocean, the living force of our big blue planet, and its tributaries. We are poisoning the soil of the earth itself with pesticides, industrial chemicals and even radiation.

    And then there is war; this has only become a source of pollution in the past few decades as lead came into wide use, and oil wells were set on fire, not to mention other chemical agents - remember Mustard Gas, Agent Orange and Napalm? While mankind has been fighting and killing each other for thousands of years only in recent times have they been killing earth as well in the process.
  
 
I'm not going to scare people by recounting unimaginable disasters that have killed, crippled and ruined the lives of thousands, and those that are pending possibly in our lifetime or our children's or grandchildren's.
   
    A century ago, someone put a mark on a post or bridge in North Miami - I seem to remember 1914, but perhaps I've forgotten. The person suspected the sea was slowly rising. Every few years the Miami Herald published a piece on the mark, now well underwater. Hurricanes added to the occasional high water; all the old houses were built on high foundations; new ones are near ground level on slabs. Now at high tides streets in Miami Beach are underwater; businesses have taken huge losses. Many have learned to protect themselves better, and the roadbed is being built higher in places with drainage pumps that expel the worst of the water into the western bay side; of course it also picks up plastic, Styrofoam, oil, road trash and more, and pollutes the bay. Building permits are still being issued for ground level buildings and - ready! Underground garages!!!
   
   
Meanwhile, our own governor, many politicians in office and a whole bunch of candidates deny global warming and ignore problems with pollution. As citizens head to the polls, I hope that many will base much of their vote on which candidate has realistic plans to clean up the mess we have made, thoughtlessly, before it is too late. The sand is sifting toward the bottom of our hourglass. The human race may be rapidly reaching the peak of its bell curve.

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