Feb 042011

Yesterday we took a two car hike from the mountain side downhill through a narrow Hawaiian valley ending at the ocean. Hawaii is lush, of course. Things grow amazingly fast. The valley provided a living demonstration of how nature will take over and obscure what man has made in a world without us. A book by that title, A World Without Us,  illustrates how nature would come back strong if humans weren’t here to muck it up.

In the valley, we walked downhill on an old road that once lead to agricultural areas high in the valley. Occasionally, we would cross concrete pipes that probably brought water down from high in the watershed. There was little sign of man save for the places where the road crossed the stream bed.

At these fords (I think there were seven of them) an amazing amount of work had been done paving the ford with stepping stone pieces of lava rock and cementing them in. But the human activity was no more. Mountain orchids grew alongside the trail.

The WOOFERS who were hiking with us feasted on lilikoi (passion fruit) they found on the ground. There were both red and yellow varieties. Noni fruit was frequent though not yet ripe.

Giant mango trees grew alongside the trail. There was an occasional banana tree which may have been a clue to what had been cultivated in the past. Another clue was the coffee bushes, tall, leggy things that featured ripe red fruit that we picked and ate, seed and all.

Clearly, there had been a wide road and fords and plumbing. But it was all gone, the road to the valley cut off and posted, hemmed in by a botanical garden on the ocean side and the Army’s Striker Road at the top. It was jungle again as it had been before humans had gone up the valley to do their thing. Tall trees, big leafy plants, vines and mosquitos. A world almost without us.

Lummi Island would take a little longer than Hawaii to send snowberries up through driveways, before the black berries and salmon berries wrapped around houses, sheds and barns and started to pull them down. But it would happen. Fields that aren’t mowed will be nearly taken over in one season.

This is kind of a hopeful thing. As much damage as we do, if we were all raptured away or sunk in a sunnami or covered with volcanic ash or wiped out by the Egyptian flu stuff would still grow, push through and cover up the mess we made of it.


  5 Responses to “The World Without Us”

  1. It is sort of hopeful. Of course the book also points out that we’ll be leaving other longer-lasting changes, e.g., the increased carbon in the atmosphere, plastic bits everywhere, contaminated ground water and oceans, radiation. But there’s still good news — other life forms should be to live on, eating the plastic that we’ve left behind.

  2. George Carlin, I think, had act claiming that “Save the earth” was not an issue; With dinosaurs, humans, and numerous ice ages occurring all the time, a few sytrofoam cups wasn’t going to trouble it much. “Save the humans” was another matter.

    One of Hitler’s three driving goals was to cover the world in neo-classic ruins, and actually planned his architecture on how it would appear when the vegetation took over.

    Our achivements of late are practically holograms on chips of sand. We would leave some air strips and railroad tracks for a short while. The deserts we’ve created are probably a larger contribution to the sands of time.

    Earth is one planet in one solar system amongst 100 billion galaxies, if not an infinite supply. Galaxies themselves might be like protons in lush tropical banana trees on a larger scale somewhere.

    The creative source of all this certainly isn’t going anywhere for gazillions of phrazillions of eons, and there may be just as many parallel dimensions of other universes as there are photons in the universe. We can rest easy that beauty will thrive for eternity.

  3. A vision of a World unaffected by the sins of man, is a nice daydream. I think the visions of John, in the book of Revelation, are closer to what we are approaching. Behold a pale horse…….

  4. The visions of a life-sentence prisoner are seldom comforting, especially in the midst of a decaying empire.

    Christ and his international peers had much better visions. He suggested sharing and caring as the answer at just such times as those would grab for themselves. He also believed in transcending matter for a time, but most serious events caused him to see the wisdom of a heaven on earth. The last silent words before his being rebuilt were “Forgive what I have become”.

    One might ask though, who are we to believe that we are above untainted designs of creation, no matter how great or obscured our communion. Not even angels and demons live outside of God. Even if this were all a mindless molecular chain reaction, the seed of the universe was thus then a DNA blueprint for every noble thought of mankind, and perhaps likewise in a zillion other universes. We’re watching a short movie, and even fans of the lava-lamp channel watch a horror flick now and then. It’s true that a black plague or Mt. Vesuvius comes along now and then, but we endure for eternity, and should enjoy great terrible and joyous parts in the play. We each have a personally tailored universe reflected around us, but imagine (to borrow a CS Lewis metaphor), if our ships all sailed together. We may not agree on low-tech or high-tech, but we can mostly all agree on lasting joy.

    Nostrodamus has had his day of subscribers. Empires have come and gone already. Prophecy is a choice of vision. Best to gamble and invest in the preferred outcome, not the most terifyingly intriguing. The physics of the world can support going up in a ball of flame, but a garden of Eden, or even glass towers sound like much better choices to me.

  5. I’m here, I plan on staying here and the damn blackberries can just die. Book of John (Deere) Tales of the brushhog and other implements of brushy salvation.

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