Earth to Humans!

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I messed up! I was going to run this cartoon from five years ago on Earth Day, which was yesterday. I’m not going to worry very much about that, though, for every day is Earth Day. Notice I don’t say, “should be Earth Day.” Every day is “Earth day.” Our little space rock will keep on spinning, will keep on warming and cooling and probably hosting some form of life as long as the water holds out. Whether that life is human matters not one whit to the planet. It is our conceit that once a year we pat Earth on the crust and make vague well-meaning promises about taking care of it. I’m not saying Earth Day is a bad thing, and I’m certainly not saying we shouldn’t try to protect and preserve the world as we know it. I’m only saying it is humanity in the balance. Not Earth. If we truly believed that, every day would be Earth Day, but we don’t. What we truly believe is that we have a right to exist on our own terms, and if fouling our nest is necessary, Earth simply will adjust. At least we have that last part right.

34 responses to “Earth to Humans!”

  1. Yes. Humans think they are so mighty until the wind blows and the rain falls and the ground shakes and spits fire. When we finally apex ourselves out of existence, our cosmic tombstone will say one word: hubris.

  2. Jimmy, lovely cartoon. We are often a day late with earth day, aren’t we all? And do you mind a question, out of curiosity? I would guess that you write and draw A & J all by yourself. Is that so? Have you always done so? Or are assistants never out of the question for you? The writing and artwork always seem so personal. Is that changing in the profession?

    I do write and draw A&J myself and always have. I never say “never,” but I do not have assistants and have not had. My writing and drawing are personal; that’s just the way it is. For the past generation and more, spurred greatly by Peanuts , more comics reflect the creator personally. I expect this will continue.

  3. We think we will leave such great and everlasting monuments to ourselves, but the truth is within a couple of hundred years after humans are gone all traces of us will start being erased, and it will be as though we never were. Percy Bysshe Shelly said it best:


    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
    And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    `My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
    Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
    The lone and level sands stretch far away”.

  4. And then there’s this:

    Myth: we have to save the earth. Frankly, the earth doesn’t need to be saved. Nature doesn’t give a hoot if human beings are here or not. The planet has survived cataclysmic and catastrophic changes for millions upon millions of years. Over that time, it is widely believed, 99 percent of all species have come and gone while the planet has remained. Saving the environment is really about saving our environment — making it safe for ourselves, our children, and the world as we know it. If more people saw the issue as one of saving themselves, we would probably see increased motivation and commitment to actually do so.
    -Robert M. Lilienfeld, management consultant and author (b. 1953) and William L. Rathje, archaeologist and author (b. 1945)

  5. @Trapper Jean,

    Thanks that was, well, Symply Fargone and the most eloquent summation of my feelings about this. I try to do my little part. I compost everything I can, recycle everything I can, in the three years our households uncompostable/unrecyclable waste is now just one large garbage bag/month. I’ve got my 20 something neighbor doing the same now after he asked me what my barrel at the end of the driveway was.

  6. Thank you, Jimmy! I suspected so. As Sparky Schulz said in the book “Conversations,” “Not doing your own lettering is like Arnold Palmer having someone else hit his nine irons for him.”

  7. A similar speech is present in the Jurassic Park novel, spoken by Ian Malcom. The planet doesn’t give a whit about us, we only have to maintain a nice place to live for ourselves and the current batch of plant and animal life that is around. However, plants and animals have been going extinct and/or evolving into different forms in response to environmental shifts since time immemorial, long before manmade pollution. Really bad pollution still wreaks havok to be sure, but for the most part we’ve stopped polluting that badly, especially in the western industrialized nations. Probably one of the larger environmental issues worldwide is clear-cutting of rainforests, though most of that is done to create farmland to support hungry populations of people, so that issue needs to be addressed with an alternate solution rather than just saying “deforestation is bad”.

  8. Dale: ‘I loved the snapper in today’s (Wednesday’s) A&J. I’m a northerner and need to be reminded that down south, playing in the water isn’t always innocent fun!’

    There are snappers in N. MN lakes; they may range N. into Canada. And they are dangerous. Meg[?] may have attracted an alligator snapper. They are more dangerous, and do not range this far N.

    Playing in local lakes in late summer can also be dangerous, but not necessarily life-threatening. If you swim then, best to dry off briskly with a rough towel. There are parasitic worms that spend part of their life cycle in snails and emerge from them and burrow into the skin of aquatic birds, complete that stage in the birds who discharge the next stage into the water [as eggs? I’d have to look up my notes]. That stage is ingested by snails and around we go. If you come out of the water with the larvae on your skin, they burrow in rather than dry out. But your biochemistry does not suit them, so they die, in your skin. Result: swimmer’s itch. Not dangerous [at least for most people] but unpleasant. Drying off vigorously kills the worms before they can burrow into you. I believe they are too small to be seen by the naked eye.

  9. As I understand it, Ray is right. Most of the Western world has stopped polluting so badly, it is the Far East that is doing that, and we can’t do a darned thing to stop them, no matter how many earth flags we fly The only way to solve South America’s appetite for more farmland is to ship food to them cheaply, and are we going to do that? And are they wiling to become clients of the Yankee Imperialists? I sure don’t know, so I just have fun and don’t worry.

    “Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever; Do noble things, not dream them , all day long: And so make life, death, and that vast for-ever. One grand, sweet song.” – Kingsley

  10. Whoa, Jimmy, that’s some deep feelings you’ve expressed…thanks for sharing. And, yes, we will all eventually be complete products of our environment…”and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”

    Lilyblack…left you a post on yesterday’s retro 🙂

    ….GR ?

  11. Debbe 😉 I’ve been travelling since Monday, hon, and I’m just now getting caught up.

    I still sort of suspect that Jimmy has minions. 🙂

  12. Lily:

    ‘. . . just have fun and don’t worry.’ So would I, but [along with millions of others] I have grandchildren. Actually, I’m a born worrywart, but it remains true.

  13. Good morning Villagers….

    GR 😉 welcome back ‘home’, missed your posts. Just where all do you travel? Do you fly yourself or book commercial…just curious 🙂

    E gads…..yesterday, two of the bottom conveyor belts would not ‘convey’ (cute, huh)…sooooo, Ian and I had to place 1200 feet (600 feet of belt each) of eggs on other lines….I went nuts, came home cleaned up, ate, drank a six pack…..went to bed.

    AND them suckers better run this morning…..

    Know who I have been thinking of the past week or so…..Jackie Monies. Haven’t heard from her in about 3 weeks or so. I know her husband was going to start cancer treatment.

    Jackie, if you are still reading our comments….prayers and thoughts to you and yours…Amen.

    Ya’ll have a blessed day…I am.


  14. It’s funny, but I read the caption of the cartoon differently. As in “Observe Earth” Day. When I stand back and do that, observe all of creation in its infinite variety and magnificent design, I see God’s hand and stand in awe.

  15. Very profound, Jimmy. What a shift in perspective! “…it is humanity in the balance. Not Earth.”
    should be read aloud each morning in every governmental congress on the planet. Thank you.

  16. Bonnie: Remember to also observe/contemplate the ‘magnificent design’ of the AIDS virus, the mosquito’s mouthparts, and the tsunami. Peace, emb

  17. Geologically, it appears we have had five mass extensions. At least that’s what the fossil record seems to show. A substantial number of mammal extinctions also occurred at the end of the Pliocene era, as recently as 14,000 years ago. There’s lots of discussion about the current rate of extinction, an how much higher the rate of extinction is over the expected background level. Man may be causing that, and also may be a victim. We should probably do what we can to slow the rate of change. To anthropomorphize a bit, the planet doesn’t really care who or what lives on the surface.

    One of the things to preserve our species might be to get a genetically stable sample of the population in orbit or on the moon or Mars. It might not make any difference, since we are remarkably good at killing each other. It may not take an asteroid or comet impact to push past the tipping point. We may be able to manage that well enough on our own. We must continue to be more efficient and effective in use of resources. The Erlichs predicted mass starvation in the 1968 “The Population Bomb”. Since then, the global population has more than doubled. As Erlich himself admitted, “we underestimated the resilience of the world system”. By increasing productivity we’ve increased the holding capacity of the planet.

    There is some indication that even our rampant growth may be self limiting. Can’t post a full link without going to moderation, but I have included the text of a link that can be cut and pasted. It’s an interesting, recent, paper on population dynamics. The premise is that within the next 50 years or so we may hit a more stable (sustainable) level of population.

    We also need to spend time and money on “blue sky” ideas that might shift the levels of sustainable population. Things like the original shift from hunter-gatherer to deliberate agriculture. Or, the development of the germ theory of disease with antibiotics and antivirals. Refrigeration, electronic data processing and storage, steam engines, internal combustion, and even genetic engineering are all changes that allowed more people to live with higher standards of living. (Anybody that’s a type 1 diabetic using Humulinon Humalog?)

    We may yet kill ourselves off, but I have higher hopes and more optimism. Seems like so far that we have managed to avoid disaster somehow. With a bit of effort and some good luck we might just make it as a species after all.

  18. Darn! Dropped in the moderation pit because I had two links…. the blog software corrected my “error” for a line that looked like a link, though I’d left off the all important header. Seems the software auto-corrected that omission for me and added the “http://” that I had left off.

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