Times Change

As I began writing this, I wondered. Yes, times do change, but just how well do we change with them? Nature never ceases to amaze me and the more I learn of it, the more I marvel at it. We can take nature for granted so easily, yet we abuse it so much. Happily it either survives or adapts to the changes. I said in a blog post a little while ago that I was watching a lovely film about Arctic wildlife and how it showed a polar bear go into a village to look for food. I have also since learned about Arctic foxes, who are opportunistic feeders, eating practically any animal it can, alive or dead. They rely entirely on populations of rodents, especially lemmings, voles, and other small mammals. They will also eat birds, insects, eggs, berries, reptiles, and amphibians. These animals have adapted to the changes around them for sources of food. With a global pandemic presently upon us, we are still having to adjust, to adapt to changing circumstances and we are finding ways to cope, although some are perhaps managing to do so better than others. I am very much aware of the changes I have had in my life during the past eighteen months and overall they have benefited me, which I am grateful for. Statistics are being bandied about relating to our health and lifestyles, some people might be attempting to scare us, whilst others help us see sense. Many years ago I was told an entertaining statistic which was that in one area in a particular year over half a million people died in their beds, whilst in that same year just two people died near the North Pole. So it was suggested that statistically, we would be safer sleeping near to the North Pole than it would be in your bed. This was a ridiculous statement, obviously, but it proves that statistics can so easily be manipulated. Even over the last hundred years or so our technologies have advanced, there have been amazing changes that have benefited our lives and yet some have proven to be detrimental to life itself. I have mentioned asbestos which turned out to be a killer, also more and more vehicles are on our roads these days and for a time diesel-powered cars were deemed to be the best fuel. But now we are starting or at least beginning to look towards electrically powered vehicles. There was a time when owning a car was a luxury, now a family may have two or three at home and they must be kept somewhere. As a result, areas at the front of our properties which were at one time used as gardens are being covered over with tarmac for these vehicles to park on. Except climate change is creating heavier rainfall now, so that the heavy rains do come but instead of all that rainwater soaking steadily into the earth and helping to feed the plants and other living things in our gardens, this water runs quickly over the tarmac and down onto the road, thus flooding roads and properties. This also means that excessive amounts of water flood quickly into our drains and into our rivers, but they cannot cope with that amount of outflow in such a short space of time and areas of our towns and cities flood. This causes disruption to traffic and travel, prevents folk getting to and from work, causes delays to deliveries of goods and services as well as exacerbating the degradation of road surfaces. We might look back and see how we could have changed things, but we didn’t. I am reminded that change is around us all the time, and to quote the former American President John F Kennedy, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future”. Good words, but how much have we learned, I wonder. There is no doubt that as humans we have most certainly changed, we have learned a great many new things, we have invented, developed and used new skills, including the ability to store knowledge and share so much with future generations. Though different groups view change differently. Whilst some embrace it, others reject it out of hand. Many folk look to utilise advances in technology and skills for the benefit of both themselves and others, whilst some take on a more selfish attitude, usually to enhance their wealth. Some such folk even consider that they are above others, even above the laws of where they live. Yet they too will pass away, leaving all their worldly goods behind. It does not make any difference as to whether they are buried in a marble mausoleum or in a wooden casket, surely what should be more important is how they have lived, what they brought to the world and all that they did during their lifetime to improve the world they leave behind. For example one man planted a tree in an area that was nearly a desert, but despite that he continued planting trees and in time those trees became a forest with plants, animals and insects there. So it can be with us as humans, planting not just trees and other such things, but seeds of goodness and positive living, thus showing care for all things. We are not perfect by any means, we all make mistakes, often making incorrect decisions but surely the important thing is to learn, to change and to grow. We can look back on our mistakes, but it is not so easy to change our ways, our behaviours, especially as all too often we can put a financial cost on such changes, not considering the cost to our environment. Others have written extensively on the various ways in which humans adapt to change and it has been said that the human body can and does readily respond to all of the changing environmental stresses in a variety of biological and cultural ways. For example we can acclimatise ourselves to a wide range of both humidity and temperature and and this ability to rapidly adapt to varying environmental conditions has made it possible for us to survive in most regions of the world. We have created clothing and machines which enable us to leave this Earth, to survive in space, to travel to the Moon and back, but we still have famine, drought and poverty. Some humans still wish to control the thoughts and ways of others, not for the benefit of all but purely for their own ends. Ranging from Eskimos to Africans, Asians to Australians, all races, no matter where we live, our skin colour, what language we speak, it makes no difference – or at least it shouldn’t. Whatever our clothing, personality or behaviour, we are all human and should surely be treated as equals. We have a body, a mind and a spirit that are equally unique. Different cultures lead us to different religions, some folk have very differing political views and there are times when we seem to forget that this is a transitory life. We are surrounded by such a wide range of plants, animals and other things, some of which have life and others that do not, like the rocks, stones and mountains, even the air we breathe but which all go together to make this planet, the amazing and beautiful world on which we live.

Earth, viewed from the Moon

According to radiometric dating estimation and other evidence, this Earth formed over 4.5 billion years ago. Within the first billion years of Earth’s history, life appeared in the oceans and began to affect Earth’s atmosphere and surface, leading to the proliferation of various different organisms. In fact, some geological evidence indicates that life may have arisen as early as 4.1 billion years ago. Since then, the combination of Earth’s distance from the Sun, physical properties, and geological history have allowed life to evolve and thrive. In the history of life on Earth, biodiversity has gone through long periods of expansion, occasionally punctuated by mass extinctions. Over 99% of all species that ever lived on Earth are extinct. The Ice Ages on Earth began 2.4 million years ago and lasted until 11,500 years ago. During this time, the earth’s climate repeatedly changed between very cold periods, during which glaciers covered large parts of the world and very warm periods during which many of the glaciers melted. In the time of dramatic climate change some 300,000 years ago, the humans we know as Homo sapiens evolved in Africa. Like other early humans that were living at this time, they gathered and hunted food, and evolved behaviours that helped them respond to the sometimes dramatic challenges of survival in unstable environments. Over long periods of time, streams and rivers wore away the rocks, many living things died out but equally many adapted and survived in the changing environment on Earth. Change has been with us and around us all this time, we can look back at the Egyptian pyramids dating back to over four thousand years ago and we can marvel at their technology. They found ways to achieve their goals. Closer to home but of a similar age, the Avebury complex is one of the principal ceremonial sites of Neolithic Britain that we can visit today. It was built and altered over many centuries from about 2850 BC until about 2200 BC and is one of the largest, and undoubtedly the most complex, of Britain’s surviving Neolithic henge monuments. How they mined the stones and transported them is amazing, but they achieved their aims. In a similar way, over the years our changes in weaponry were developed, diseases were fought and in time overcome. Now almost 8 billion humans live on Earth and we all depend on its biosphere and natural resources for our survival. Humans increasingly impact Earth’s surface, hydrology, atmospheric processes and other life. I personally feel it has much to do with our innate ways of wanting, wishing and willingness to survive. In my short lifetime to date I know of successes and failures, some in my family and some not. My maternal grandfather was in a ship that was torpedoed at the Battle of Jutland where only a few survived and he was one of them. However, having spent so much of his life at sea he could not easily adapt to living on land. My paternal grandfather fought at the Somme during World War I, he was captured and during his imprisonment lost one and a half fingers from one hand. But he survived, he adapted to his injuries. My father sustained a bad shoulder injury during a training exercise during World War II, so was not sent abroad with the rest of the unit he was in. He survived and met my mother, who was herself severely injured in London during the war and she was at first told she would never walk again. But she did, she bore three children and passed away at the grand age of 95. Yet a good friend of mine who was a brilliant musician did not heed the warnings of his doctor and sadly passed away aged 59. Over a few years I managed to get my parents and grandparents to tell me a few stories about the conflicts they were in, but they would never talk about the conflicts themselves, what they faced or how they coped, all I got were fun anecdotes. I guess it would have been too much and it is also how we cope with pain and suffering. I was born prematurely and have epilepsy, from birth I have had a weak right side similar to a stroke and I also have asthma. So I have learned to adapt, to survive. Right now I am in a Care Home, still recovering from heart problems along with Covid-19. I have had to adjust, to adapt to changing circumstances, but my faith and the excellent care I am receiving will get me through for a good while yet, that is what I hope and pray. As we all grow older, we encounter new challenges and we survive them, though we may find it tough going at times. But the good Earth turns, times change, and we must change or at least adapt with them. I wonder what the future may hold for us all!

This week…
It seems someone has had a valuable item stolen.
The owner has a message for the thief, which is:
To whoever has stolen my Microsoft Office.
I will find you.
It is something I Excel at.
Your Outlook is bleak.
You have my Word…

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