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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
January 4, 1999


Well ladies and germs I am sitting here trying to think what we as a species have accomplished over the last year. In my humble opinion, we get mixed reviews. The holiday hype is over, the "year's best" lists have been submitted, and still I am left wondering what it all means.

Oh sure, there is a lot we have to be proud of, the New York Yankees won another World Series, the British arrested one of their appointed dictators, and America bombed Iraq a few days before Ramadan. Americans are responsible for the majority of the world's chemicals weapons, some unintended, yet we continue to point the finger. Humanity at it's finest, no?

A century from now, when people look back on 1998 what are the things history will remember? The easy answer is the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton by the 105th Congress, and of lesser note will be a cast of players that would make Shakespeare proud. But the real test is deciphering what damage has been done to the environment while the boys and girls on Capital Hill have indulged in a dirty laundry contest.

I realize I will never be on the level of Fox Mulder in regards to conspiracy theories. In fact the only conspiracy that I see is the one called anthropocentrism. Again I ask, "if life was a Boy Scout troop, what merit badges would we have to show for the past year?"

Of course we would receive the fertility badge, because humans just keep breeding. News is that America's birth rate is down, yet our population continues to grow, making us the third most populated country in the world. We are also constantly greeted with news of some woman who has just produced a litter of children with the aid of fertility drugs.

We can also pin on our genetic engineering badge. Not content with cloning Dolly, in 1998 we also cloned cows and other livestock. Human beings also mapped the genetic blueprint of worms, grew human ears on the backs of laboratory mice, and generally played mad scientist to our heart's content. Talk about brave new world.

In the space category, not only did we produce Star Trek IX, we also sent a senior citizen into space, and started construction of an orbiting technological strip mall, a stepping stone in our ongoing quest to explore the universe. I'm not sure if this is because we want company, or just more species to exploit.

Our fishing badge should stay pinned to our over inflated chest. Worldwide we are stripping the oceans of life through the use all sorts of "state of the art" methods. We can also keep our misguided concern badge due to the fact that we are giving native Americans the right to hunt whales in an attempt to preserve an aspect of one culture at the expense of entire species. Won't gramma be proud?

As for our forestry badge, we can rest assured that we are doing everything in our power to wrestle as much profit as possible from the planets remaining forests. We will also look back on 1998 as the year when logging industry employees were elevated to judge and jury, and dropping trees on concerned citizens became justifiable. One could hope the environment will rate better treatment in 1999, but I doubt it. Hope, like heroin, never lives up to it's promise.

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