Albert Einstein once predicted that when certain alarming events actually occurred, humankind would be facing imminent extinction. Is nature giving us final notice that we’re in serious trouble?
I freely admit that I don’t like being awakened from a deep sleep. The sound of an alarm clock rubs against my consciousness like a fingernail along a blackboard. Even if I’m being jarred awake by the scream of a fire alarm, a part of me would still rather roll over and block out the noise with an extra pillow.
So I can’t pretend to be astonished that so many of us would rather remain sleepwalking than waken to the warning sounds blaring at us these days. Global warming is a prime example. While subcommittees meet and multimedia presentations play to packed rooms, the world suffers irreparable damage. Weather patterns are anomalously freaky: tornadoes where they have never occurred before, dust bowls threatening to decimate the food supply of the world’s most populous country, floods and rogue ocean waves driving hundreds of thousands from their homes. Whichever side of the global warming issue you support, clearly our children’s children won’t be enjoying the same rich and varied ecosystem we inherited from our ancestors.
There’s an old adage people invoke when they don’t want to accept an unpleasant tide of events: “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.” According to several emails I’ve received in the last ten days, the fat lady’s already been on stage for quite some time and she’s about to belt out her last few notes. We’ve been largely oblivious of her entire performance, however – being distracted by Super Bowls and Oscars, Anna Nicole Smith and Angelina Jolie, and how to attract abundance and the perfect mate. Squandering our attention in self-indulgence, we’ve been trading short-term expediency for long-term benefits; we’ve given our pocketbooks sovereignty over our senses – no doubt the very lyrics to the aria the fat lady is now singing.
Two weeks ago, a friend drove in from Phoenix to spend the weekend. The conversation at lunch turned to beekeeping, his hobby of many years. He ended the conversation by encouraging me to install a hive in a corner of my property.
Perhaps providentially, a scant few days later I received a posting from another friend informing me of a sudden, devastating collapse in America’s bee population: “Honeybees are flying off in search of pollen and nectar and simply never returning to their colonies. During the final three months of 2006, a distressing number of honeybee colonies began to diminish from the United States, and beekeepers all over the country have reported unprecedented losses. According to scientists, the domesticated honeybee population has declined by about 50% in the last 50 years. Reports of similar losses to the honeybee population have been documented before in beekeeping literature, but are widely believed to have occurred at this scale previously only at a regional level. With outbreaks recorded as far back as 1896, this is regarded as the first national honeybee epidemic in U.S. history.”
Being a bit skeptical, I assumed this was just another piece of alarmist misinformation finding its way onto Internet distribution lists. A few minutes’ research not only confirmed the story,1 but made me realize that the problem is rapidly spreading worldwide. In official circles, the condition is called either Fall-Dwindle Disease or, more commonly, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
The plight of an insect may not seem like much, given the kinds of issues grabbing headlines these days. But in fact it’s a big deal. Without an abundance of bees to pollinate crops, the United States could lose as much as 30% of its food supply in a very short time. According to Zac Browning, vice president of the American Beekeeping Federation, “Every third bite we consume in our diet is dependent on a honeybee to pollinate that food.”
As with global warming, debate rages about why the bee population has suddenly plummeted. Some blame it on the varroa mite, introduced from Asia, the widespread practice of spraying wildflowers with herbicides, the practice of monoculture (a single crop covering a large area), or the controversial yet growing use of genetic engineering (GMO) in agriculture; while some fundamentalist diehards are calling it the harbinger of Armageddon. The most persuasive theory of the cause comes from George Carlo, MD, the celebrated author of Cell Phones: Invisible Hazards in the Wireless Age and current chairman of the nonprofit Science and Public Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Carlo makes a strong case for the global proliferation of electromagnetic waves (EMF) as the culprit2 responsible for the demise of the bees.
Like the canaries that the miners of old took with them into the shafts to detect buildups of toxic gases, the bees are cautioning us that we are teetering on the brink.
Less than two days later, I received an unrelated yet equally disturbing report. According to a recent article in USA Today, while we have been snoozing, autism has risen from one case out of every 2,500 children in 1996 to a current rate of one out of 150 – an increase of more than 1,600% in just over a decade. Here, too, debate rages. While our government and the drug companies it supports are looking for answers, a significant number of reports place the blame squarely at the feet of vaccinations. The email read in part: “Only 100 years ago, children received only one vaccination, and rarely in infancy, and there was no autism. Forty years ago, children received five vaccinations by the age of two, usually not before the first year of age, and autism was very rare. Today, children receive 11 vaccines routinely and as many as 20 shots by two years of age, and these shots start in infancy, before the blood brain barrier that protects the delicate, immature tissues in the brain has formed at seven months of age … before it can protect their brains.”
In 1999, the Los Angeles Times drew attention with the headline “California Cries 273% Increase in Autism and We Don’t Know Why!” That was back in 1999, and since then the situation has gone from dire to devastating. How, in the face of such overwhelming statistics, can anyone seriously suggest giving a new round of essentially unproven vaccines to young school girls (down to 12 years old) for human pamplona virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease linked to cervical cancer?
Still another email (fully supporting Dr. George Carlo’s thesis2) discussed at length the cumulative hazards caused by the increased use of cellular phones and satellite radio. Our airwaves are jammed with a deadly cocktail of radio, electromagnetic, microwave, ELF, UHF, VHF, GPS, and a host of transmissions, benign and nefarious, done in the name of profit, convenience, or control – depending on the reporter’s agenda. The bottom line is crystal clear: our brains and bodies, along with our bioelectric fields, are being buffeted in ways unprecedented in human history. Who really knows how this onslaught is affecting us?
Other emails talked about the real inflation rate (the rapidly increasing M3 money supply, not the doctored reports of the Federal Reserve), the increased tensions in the Middle East, the unbridled growth of HIV-AIDS and new hybrid viruses, the pollution of our oceans, waterways, and atmosphere, the decline of civilized entertainment, and the demise of uncountable plant and animal species.
When canaries die or bees disappear, we are being cautioned that we are in immediate danger. It is time to listen to the message nature is telling us. It is tempting to pull the blankets over our heads and pretend it’s all a bad dream. After all, that’s what we have been doing since the beginning of recorded history. But denial – the favorite ploy of those whose profits are being threatened – is no longer an option.
I suggest that as long as we overcome our sleepiness enough to hear the sirens reverberating all around us and pay attention to the fat lady’s lyrics, all is not lost. However, the immediate action each of us takes is critical.
If we focus entirely on the symptoms – ominous and pressing as they appear to be – we might well lose the day. A far larger picture looms as well, and demands our attention. Window dressing actions like turning down our thermostats, praying for peace, or demonstrating for human rights won’t make the pain go away; we need to look deeply into ourselves for the cause of our malaise. There, we will most certainly find the answer. As Walt Kelly’s comic strip character Pogo once remarked, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
I have long accepted that the only thing that needs to change in this world is me. I have pledged the rest of my days – however many they might be – to helping others awaken. I have no faith in the ability of government or religion or in any of our vaunted institutions to right our failed course. However, I have infinite faith in the love, wisdom, and power of every individual who lets go of the collective insanity that has brought us to the brink of annihilation and takes responsibility for his or her own life. Assuming the role of a transcendent human in a culture that applauds conformity takes courage. The circumstances we now find ourselves in demand nothing less.
As Arthur Schopenhauer said, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” I shudder to think of what will become of humankind if we continue waffling. Albert Einstein once predicted that, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”
Jean-Claude Gerard Koven is a writer and speaker based in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. He was a featured weekly columnist for the UPI (United Press International) Religion and Spirituality Forum and is the author of Going Deeper: How to Make Sense of Your Life When Your Life Makes No Sense, recipient of both the Allbooks Reviews Editor’s Choice Award and the USABookNews.com Award for the Best Metaphysical Book of the Year.
©2004 – 2019. Jean-Claude Gerard Koven / All Rights Reserved.