«TEACHERS HAVE TAUGHT US THROUGH THE AGES. THEY ARE WATCHING US NOW. THE COSMOS IS THEIR OCEAN AND THEY HAVE BEEN MINDFUL OF OUR NEED TO DEVELOP. AT ...»
EVOLVING IN A PLACE CALLED EDEN
IS A PROMISING YOUNG CIVILIZATION.
WE GROW MORE DANGEROUS
YET WISER EACH DAY.
TEACHERS HAVE TAUGHT US
THROUGH THE AGES.
THEY ARE WATCHING US NOW.
THE COSMOS IS THEIR OCEAN
AND THEY HAVE BEEN MINDFUL
OF OUR NEED TO DEVELOP.
AT WHAT MOMENT IN HISTORY
WOULD THESE VISITORS WANT US TO JOIN THEM?
WHAT WILL WE BECOME WHEN WE DO?
WE SHALL MEET THEM
AS THE MEN AND WOMEN OF EARTH
AND ASK THEM FOR THEIR TRUTH.
INTERNATIONAL SPACE SCIENCES ORGANIZATIONCOPYRIGHT 1999
JOSEPH P. FIRMAGEFEBRUARY 22TH, 1999
INTERNATIONAL SPACE SCIENCES ORGANIZATION
THE TRUTH – CONDENSED EDITION PAGE 2 COPYRIGHT 1999 ISSO
COPIES MAY BE MADE, BUT NOT ALTEREDPART I
EVOLVING IN A PLACE CALLED EDEN...Who are you?
You read this as a living homo sapiens animal clothed in manufactured fabrics, staring at a Microsoft Word document delivered to you through an electronic communications system called the Internet. The Internet touched large populations of animals for the first time approximately 2000 revolutions of the Earth about her Sun following the birth of a being named Jesus. You are a speck of dust of biology on a speck of dust of geology circling your Sun, within a revolving arm of the Milky Way. As far back in time as you have been able to peer through your Hubble Space Telescope, you have learned that the Milky Way is one of about 150 billion vast astrophysical cyclones you call galaxies, each with hundreds of billions of suns and planets.
A strange introduction to yourself, isn't it? Yet that is actually a more complete description of you in this moment from the eyes of the Cosmos and distant future history books of Earth.
Whenever we think about such
ideas, we all seek to answer the basic questions of life: Who am I?
Why am I here? What is my purpose? What is my place? These are difficult questions to answer. Let us start by looking at what we're made of.
You are made of Milky Way galaxy. You are made of the Cosmos. The Cosmos includes everything you smell, taste, touch, hear, see, know, or do. It is everything that is.
We have been taught for millennia the tale of the origin of the Cosmos. Scientists in the discipline of cosmology call it "the Big Bang". Those faithful to the Western world's dominant religions call it "Genesis". In the beginning there was a special kind of energy, or light, a light that makes all things – a kind of temporal potential. Billions of galaxies, trillions of stars, and an uncountable number of worlds formed. On many of those worlds, when of just the right size, just the right distance from their suns, with just the right chemistry, as night parts with day in a rare ecological harmony, the spiral of life springs forth from their oceans and gardens.
The Earth upon which you stand and all of the chemistry within your body and in the air you breathe was formed from simpler matter as a star perhaps like our sun exploded in death over 6 billion years ago. It spat out atoms in forms suitable for the evolution of a wondrous place such as Earth, and a being such as you.
Perhaps the first time we homo sapiens truly understood the majesty of Earth was when we could see a picture of her. She was the cover star of Life Magazine in October, 1968. For the first time in our recorded history of the planet, millions of her own children – human beings – saw her whole face, and understood that they were looking at the home creation has made for them.
It took a decade from those first Apollo images of Earth for a human to loudly proclaim that our planet is a living being. In James Lovelock’s Gaia, the evidence is as plain as ink on a page. There is life-like precision, care, and process across all the disciplines of "non-living" science -- physics, astronomy, chemistry, geology, meteorology -- not just biology, particularly as these disciplines interrelate in the definition of place suitable for human life. If we take a brief trip to visit the life on Earth, it becomes clear that our world simply must be categorized as an organism herself with a metabolism tuned by biology, for the sake of biology itself. And since biology clearly serves the purpose of evolving consciousness, it can now be said that the Earth exists to advance consciousness.
We live upon an amazing engine of life!
"Of all the planets in the solar system, why is Earth the only one fit for life? Simple: because Earth has a surface that supports liquid water, the magic elixir required by all living beings."
-- James Kasting, Scientific American, 3rd Quarterly, 1998 Oceans cover over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface. Scientists theorize that the oceans formed upon the Earth’s crust through some combination of liquid and gas release from the interior of the planet and impact of ice-laden comets from the heavens. Whatever the source of the water, there is now 350 million cubic miles of it sloshing upon Earth’s crust, reaching to a depth of 36,200 feet in the Pacific’s Marianas Trench, where the pressure from the weight of the water is equivalent to over a thousand atmospheres.
The ocean is separated into its barren and fertile zones just like the land. Massive rivers within the ocean called currents carry water around the globe in huge circling patterns, influencing and influenced by global weather systems. Powered as forcefully as they are, currents move quickly only at the surface, for deep cold water takes about 1,000 years to recirculate with the surface. With the remarkable exception of the ocean floor itself, where perhaps millions of species of life remain undiscovered, the deep of the ocean is a desert compared to the dazzling garden of beings found inhabiting the more temperate, shallow zones. The upper two percent of the ocean’s volume contains most biological organisms, at least those familiar to us.
From the smallest single-celled amoeba to the largest blue whale, the ocean courses with simple, intelligent, and majestic life. It might surprise you to learn that the ocean supports a greater diversity of living body types than land. Indeed, of 33 animal phyla, 30 describe residents of the ocean. Only 16 describe residents of dry land or freshwater.
The tree of life grows swiftly in water. Indeed, the root of the tree of genetic biology spirals outward from the oceans, and has turned a pregnant clump of geology into a verdant garden on the land.
If ever there was a true Garden of Eden, its last superpower sprawls across our South American continent.
No place on Earth is the majesty, power, and truth of the double helix of life more splendidly evident than in the depths of the jungle, across the plains, in the canopy, along the mountain peaks, and near the edges of this great labyrinthian river. Indeed, might not the river basin itself be alive, and thinking the thoughts thought by it’s many different cells -- the trillions of organic life forms among millions of species which it sustains and evolves?
We know of no other place like this in the universe, at least none most scientists believe we could ever hope to reach. All the more precious this last vast preserve of Eden would then have to be to the life of Earth, and to all humans. Certainly to any true scientist.
First, the obligatory numbers. The Amazon basin and adjacent regions in Central and South America represent 50% of the remaining rainforests on the planet. The basin delivers 20 percent of worldwide river water to the Atlantic ocean, from the reaches of 2.7 million square miles of rainforest. Its total water flow is greater than that of Earth’s next eight largest rivers combined, with a mouth at the ocean 200 miles wide, containing an island larger than Switzerland. Oceangoing vessels can travel up the river for 2,300 miles, placing them much closer to the Pacific ocean than the Atlantic.
The rainforests contain 50% of living species of life on this world, yet they cover only 7% of the area of land. That 7% forms an indispensable segment of the branch of the tree of life upon which humanity stands at this moment.
Underlying these dry numbers rests a secret of incredible majesty: the rainforests are the most powerful and concentrated womb of life ever created on the land of Earth.
COPIES MAY BE MADE, BUT NOT ALTEREDThe most pervasively beautiful life form in this place is the tree. Trees of every possible variety, thousands and thousands of different species. Some individuals are older than the Bible, some stretch as high as the length of a football field, these mighty creatures shelter the biosphere of Amazonia. They shield most of the sun’s light from reaching the forest floor, creating an enclosed womb for the dance of life below. At their roots, the life of the jungle is a product of the geology and chemistry of Earth, and at their highest leaves, they are home to the most fantastic winged life forms known to man. In between soil and canopy is an infinitely complex yet stable web of life, with millions of species of microorganisms, plants, and animals evolving at a breathless pace. Would it surprise you to learn that much of your DNA, the programming in the cells of your body, is the same as within the cells of these trees? It should surprise you, and it is true.
As you climb from the flood plains towards the mountainous peaks of the Andes, the temperature drops about 1ºF for every 330 feet of elevation, which means that ambient temperature can drop below freezing at 16,400 feet at the equator. Hence the snowcapped peaks above the hot heart of the tropics.
In the steep mountains of the rainforest, the clouds themselves become the integral part of the fabric of life, rather than the rivers of the basin below. The clouds create an atmosphere rich in water, which accumulates on leaves through condensation and rainfall. In this place, the leaves themselves have evolved drip systems to gently convey condensed water to the soil below.
By shielding much of the sun’s light, the clouds inhibit the pace of photosynthesis, thereby slowing the pace of life in the misty forests below the canopy. But among the clouds, whole new forms of life spring forward. The trees in this zone of our ecology are coated in thick ferns and mosses, and are inhabited by thousands of plants and animals of incredible variety.
At night, the forest does not sleep. It is often not even completely dark, as luminous fungi in the rotting leaves on the ground glow an eerie green light, covering the forest floor with a veil of light like a living Christmas decoration. And in this almost silent night, the luminous fireflies have there way too.
In the rainforests you will find plants that eat only air, sun and soil, plants that eat plants, and plants that eat animals. You will find plants that can survive 50-foot floods and plants that withstand the harshest of droughts. You will find plants larger than airplanes and smaller than pinheads. You will find plants bearing all manner of fruits, undiscovered thousands with the most mysterious healing powers, some with fruit containing 30 times the Vitamin C of citrus, and a few with the most lethal toxins known to science.
The fruit of the kingdom of plants is the kingdom of animals, and it is yet more majestic. Animals are far more sophisticated creatures than plants. On Earth, there have been the smallest insects, and the largest dinosaurs. There have been the most curious beetles and the most frightening spiders; the slowest turtle and the fastest falcon; the florescent green frog, and the bright red snake; the sound-navigating bat and the electric eel; the homing pigeon and the childlike dolphin; the most gentle kitten and the fiercest tiger; the finest horse and the fattest cow.
Living today, the smallest animals are the chlamydia and rickettsia bacteria, and are only a few hundred atoms in diameter. The longest insect is the pharnacia serratipes of Indonesia, measuring up to 13 inches.
The longest worm is the bootlace worm, and has been recorded at lengths up to 100 feet. The oldest form of animal on Earth are the deep-sea snails, which have not changed in 500 million years. The fastest land animal is the cheetah, reaching speeds up to 60 miles per hour. The largest animal is the blue whale, with one individual found to measure over 110 feet long. The world's largest carnivore – the sperm whale – also has the world's heaviest brain. At 20 pounds, it's four times heavier than the human brain. The only cold warm-blooded mammal is the Arctic ground squirrel, which can lower its body temperature below freezing.
What absolute cosmic majesty!
Animals live lives of wildly different durations. The longest authenticated human life in modern times is 120 years. For a housefly, the longest life has been about 2 months. The cat, 34 years. The goldfish, 41 years. The orca, 90 years. The tortoise, 150 years. Yet scientists do not yet know exactly why animals age the way they do.
There are some 10-30 million species of animal on planet Earth. Of these, we have catalogued only about
1.2 million. Each year, 10,000 new species are added to the list of forms not already included in zoological classifications. Thousands of these wondrous forms of creatures face extinction because of the environmental hubris of the human animal. We are not simply killing animals. We are burning the blueprints that made them.