The Age of FeverJeriah Bowser I Ecology & Sustainability I Commentary I March 20th, 2014
Once upon a time, there was a Great Rock that hurtled through space. The conditions on the surface of this Rock were just right to allow various life-forms to evolve and flourish, and flourish they did. Many, many distinctive life-forms began to explore and find their unique role on the Great Rock. Some life-forms were very small and found their niche in decomposing organic matter and maintaining the processes of life on a very small scale. These came to be known as Fungi, Bacteria, Protozoa, Algae, and others. Other life-forms chose to spend their life in one spot and play a role in bringing up minerals from deep within the Soil of the Great Rock, converting the Sun's energy into fruits and seeds with which to feed others, and providing an invaluable resource to any who might need shade from the Sun, branches to nest in, or a leaf to form a cocoon under. These became known as Plant people, and their kind spanned the width and breadth of the Great Rock; some living for thousands of years and some for only a year; some climbing hundreds of feet into the air, and others living humbly underneath the oceans; some grew thick and strong, while others were thin and flexible. Other life-forms became mobile and decided to spend their lives roaming the surface of the Rock on limbs, wings, and fins. These became known as the Animal people, and their variety was incredible. Some Animals were very small and lived short lives in burrows in the ground, others soared the Sky and lived on Mountain tops, others took to the Water and explored the great Seas with their giant shells, some grew great necks with which to eat leaves from tall trees, and yet others developed strong muscles and teeth with which to kill and eat other Animals.
It was a dazzling orchestra of life, an entire world made up of unique and varied creatures that somehow all worked together and found a role and purpose on the surface of the Great Rock they called Mother. This only worked because everyone observed the one Noble Truth: the Truth of Connectedness. This Truth states that what happens to you is also what happens to me. What is bad for you is also bad for me. What happens to a tiny Protozoa on a remote island is what happens to a Macaw Parrot in the Jungle is what happens to a Yellow Bell Clematis Vine in the Rainforest is what happens to Ocean is what happens to Air is what happens to the tiny Protozoa. All life on the Great Rock is connected, in a physical and metaphysical way. This does not mean that there cannot be killing and death and sadness, as these are all an integral part of life on the Rock. This does mean that all life-forms, from the tiny Zooplankton to the Sneaky Cape Fox to the majestic Giant Sequoia, are constantly aware of their role and function in the web of life known as the Ecosystem. Observing this Noble Truth, the Great Rock Mother and all her inhabitants lived peaceably for a very, very long time… some say millions and millions of years.
Then, one day, around 12,000 years ago, a particularly funny-looking and clever little animal known as Human had a particularly funny and seemingly clever idea: it thought that it could make its conditions a little bit better by breaking the one Noble Truth and taking a few Plant people: Flax, Barley, Wheat, Lentil, Pea, Chickpea, and Bitter Vetch, and forcibly cultivating them in the area around where Human lived. This seemed like an innocent experiment at the time, as Human was not smart enough to realize the horrible chain of events it had set in place. The Plant people tried to warn Human, but Human would not listen. The Soil tried to warn Human, but Human would not listen. Even when the Soil was tired and could give no more, even when the River stopped flowing and dried up the land, even when the Great Rock Mother herself began to get sick from the salinization and topsoil depletion, the stubborn little hairless ape called Human would not listen. Only when Humanity was no longer able to live in the place where they first began their terrible experiment - due to the desertification of their former paradise - did they realize that something might be wrong. Instead of abandoning their fateful experiment, however, they simply relocated to a healthier part of the surface of the Rock in order to repeat the process all over again. The Great Rock hoped that Humanity would abandon its foolhardy endeavor soon, and yet knew that the Humans must learn the hard lesson themselves. Humanity had forgotten the one Noble Truth and had accepted the one Great Lie: the Lie of Disconnection. And so, the Great Rock Mother, the Plant people, the Water, the Air, the other Animal people, and all the other life-forms living on the surface of the Rock were involuntarily taken as victims while this foolish and dangerous experiment played itself out.
Once Humanity accepted the Lie of Disconnection with the Plant people through the process of agriculture, it became easier to accept the Lie in regards to the other Animal people, the Water, the Air, the Soil, and ultimately with themselves. Humanity became increasingly intoxicated with the notion of disconnection and superiority over the other inhabitants of the Great Rock and, due to its cleverness, invented many ways in which to carry out its theory of hierarchy. The male Humans thought themselves superior to the female Humans; the Humans who had more grain and tools thought themselves superior to those with less grain and tools; the Humans with lighter skin thought themselves superior to those with darker skin; and the Human animals as a whole thought all the other Animal and Plant people to be less important than them. This pattern continued for thousands and thousands of years, as the Humans who believed the Great Lie killed and enslaved the remaining Humans who had not broken the one Noble Truth, killed and enslaved many Animal and Plant people, and slowly began killing the Great Rock Mother herself. Huge expanses of land that were once fertile habitats for many thousands of life-forms gradually became barren Deserts; great stretches of Water called Rivers dried up and disappeared; enormous Forests were cut down and burned or turned into tools of destruction; and many noble and beautiful Animals and Plants were killed needlessly. Humanity had created an insatiable monster that continually fed off of the abundance of the Great Rock. Gradually, Humanity turned its back on its great Mother. As they took from the Great Rock without honoring the one Noble Truth, they ceased to become a contributing member to the whole and instead became a Parasite - an organism that receives life from the Host without giving anything in return. Humanity created a Great Beast that took on a life of its own, that couldn't be stopped and wouldn't be satiated - and they called that Great Beast "Empire".
The Parasite - the Great Beast Empire - grew until it reached the boundaries of the great Oceans, yet it was not satisfied with that. The Beast built great ships out of dead Plant people and explored the Oceans until it found new, healthy parts of the Great Rock to devour. There were many great wars where different heads of the Great Beast Empire would attack each other, realizing that the resources of Air, Water, Soil, and Animal and Plant people were slowly dwindling; realizing that there was not enough to go around if they continued their ways, if they continued on the path of disconnection, if they continued to believe the Great Lie.
As the amount of healthy Soil grew smaller and smaller, as the Great Rock became used up more and more quickly, the Great Beast became more desperate in its attempts to feed, entertain, and satiate itself. The Stomach of the Beast was enormous: it could eat of hundreds of thousands of Animal and Plant people every day while drinking entire Rivers dry. Great expanses of Forests and fertile Grasslands were consumed in a few years, and huge Mountains were leveled and digested. The Beast had a particular fondness for Oil, a vital fluid of the Great Rock, and began consuming it at an alarming rate, belching out huge clouds of poisonous gases and expelling rivers of toxic waste. Some Humans saw the foolishness and destruction of the Beast and tried to stop it, but they were either killed or silenced by the others. Some Humans - the few remaining old ones who had never believed the Great Lie and remembered the one Noble Truth - tried to warn the others by reminding Humanity of the agreement we all had with the Great Rock, but they too were killed and silenced by the Beast.
Slowly, and with great sadness, the Great Rock realized that she was dying. Her child, Human, had turned from her, had broken the one Noble Truth, and was slowly killing her. The Parasite of the Great Beast Empire was growing stronger every day. The Great Rock Mother had given Humanity thousands of years to return to the Noble Truth, thousands of years to realize their mistake and return to the old ways of living in harmony and respect with the rest of the inhabitants living on the surface of the Rock. The Great Rock had sent many messengers: some Human messengers, some non-Human Animal messengers, some Plant messengers, some Air, Water, and Soil messengers - but no one listened. Sadly, many of the messengers, the great teachers and prophets of old, were killed and their teachings were distorted to reinforce the logic of Empire. The Great Mother Rock tried to visit Human in dreams, tried to speak directly to Human through spiritual connection, but Human was always distracted with either the fascinating array of Empire's gadgets and toys or the difficulty of surviving in the cruel world run by the Beast. The Great Rock Mother was sick, and no one was taking care of her.
As with many of her Animal children, when the Great Rock Mother became sick with the parasitic Virus, she naturally began to fight it by raising her body temperature high enough to kill the Virus and restore her body to a healthy state. This was known as the Age of Fever. The heat of the Fever had to be raised high enough to completely eliminate any trace of the Parasite, and so, sadly, it killed many living things along with it. The Age of Fever was a terrible time for all beings living on the surface of the Great Rock, as there was great suffering and loss. Many species of Animal and Plant people died, and the body of the Great Rock bore many deep wounds and scars from the effects of the Fever. When the Age of Fever had finally passed and the parasitic Great Beast of Empire had been killed, the time of healing and restoration began. The few remaining members of Humanity returned to the one Noble Truth and realized the terrible mistake they had made. They returned to the old ways and once again lived at peace with the Great Rock Mother and all her children, although they never, ever forgot the lesson they had learned and the terrible price the World had paid for them to learn it.
Right now, we are entering the Age of Fever. The temperature on the surface of the planet is increasing exponentially. The increase in the amount of heat in the oceans over the last thirty years amounts to 17 x 1022 Joules. That measure of heat is equal to exploding a Hiroshima bomb in the ocean every second for the last thirty years. Averaging over all land and ocean surfaces across the Earth during the past 134 years, global temperature has increased roughly 1.53°F (0.85ºC) , and is still increasing at an ever-alarming rate. Rising global temperatures are speeding the melting of glaciers and polar ice caps, many of which feed the world's greatest rivers. The thickness of the Arctic ice cap has decreased 40% since the late 1960s. The great Himalayan glaciers which feed such mighty rivers as the Indus, the Brahmaputra, the Mekong, the Yangtze, the Yellow, and the Ganges, are rapidly melting and could cease to maintain an annual flow as early as 2035. The percentage of Earth's land area stricken by serious drought more than doubled from the 1970s to the early 2000s due to increased evaporation caused by rising temperatures.  There is no question that we have seriously affected the Earth's temperature due to Industrial Civilization and its various appendages.
However, I do not believe that this is the end. Contrary to both the doom and gloom apocalyptic scenarios presented by many, and the optimistic 'buy greener things and save the planet' option presented by others, I believe that we as a species need to face the cold, harsh reality that we have rejected the one Noble Truth and wandered deep into a world of disconnection, destruction, and death. We have transitioned from a symbiotic relationship with our Host to a parasitic one, and the Host is much stronger than us. I believe, tragically, that there is almost no hope of turning back the wheels of Empire. Many have tried, and yet it is stronger today than ever.
Yet, instead of throwing our hands into the air and 'giving up', we need to turn away from the logic of Empire, release our disconnected, linear concept of time and return to the old ways by accepting the cyclical, holistic view of time as it is seen by the few remaining survivors of Empire in the world today - the indigenous peoples of the world. From the Hopi to the San, from the Tarahumara to the Yanomami, from the Zapotec to the Bororo, from the Oirats to the Jarawa, these few remaining specimens of an ancient age speak with one voice as they reveal ancient wisdom, prophecies and warnings to the rest of humanity. They uniformly speak of a coming age of destruction, death, suffering, and fever which we must go through in order to cleanse ourselves of the parasite known by such various names as Empire, Civilization, Hierarchy, Agriculture, Domination, Exploitation, Patriarchy, Capitalism, Fascism, Racism, Sexism, Genocide, Ecocide, Ethnocide, and ultimately, Disconnection.
Those of us willing to listen to the ancient warnings must ready ourselves as well as anybody who will listen for this coming age. We must be willing to enter the heat of the Great Fever and let it purify us of any notions of the old way, as Humanity once again enters into the fold of the Great Mother Rock called Earth and re-learns how to follow the one Noble Truth by engaging all of life with respect, reverence, interdependence, and humility. The Great Lie of Disconnection must die, and the Great Fever must continue until the funny-looking, clever little animal called Human discards its 12,000-year-old experiment with Empire and humbly returns to living on the surface of a big Rock hurtling through space.
 "Himalayan Glaciers: Climate Change, Water Resources, and Water Security" The National Academies Press (2012)