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BEFORE THE DELUGE 

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It’s been a while since I last visited with you. A long story for another time. Currently, I am consumed with sickness. No, not Covid (been there, done that), or the flu, or any other bacteria or demonic viruses. 

Rather, it is a sickness of the soul of America. And, although I have given this much deep thought, I do not have an answer for this sickness. 

My favorite philosopher/ songwriter/singer is Jackson Browne. He is my hero. His music lights a fire in my soul. 

During my long and lonely stay in the middle-Atlas mountains of Morocco, studying the social behavior of wild Barbary monkeys, I played a cassette of Browne’s album “For Everyman.” Listening to it saved my sanity. I knew no French, classic Arabic, or “street” Arabic, nor Berber dialects. I felt very alone in a crowd. My best friends were the monkeys I studied. 

In high school and as a freshman at University of Texas, I took English literature. I liked most of what we had to read, until we got to “poetry.” I could not wrap my brain around “poetry.” It just befuddled me; as I got older, my poetry came in song. In song lies my understanding of philosophy, another befuddlement that makes sense to me only in tunes. I want to share with you some thoughts to ponder. 

In the year 1900, Spaceship Earth contained 2 BILLION humans. Homo sapiens. The word sapien derives from an old Latin word meaning ‘wise.’ 

Today, there are 8 BILLION humans residing on our abused planet. Do you understand how large a number that is? One billion is equal to one thousand million. 

Consider this. If you spent $1 million every day, it would take you 8,000 days to spend 8 BILLION dollars — about 22 years! Viewed another way, the number of Earth’s denizens skyrocketed four-fold in number, in only 120 years – a blink of an evolutionary eye for Homo sapiens. Eight BILLION is a very big number. 

The proximate cause of massive, and perhaps irreversible, negative changes in Earth’s climate is not destructive chemical gasses flooding our skies. Those, and other plagues, are the ultimate/end-game causes. No, the proximate (primary) cause is overpopulation! Our Spaceship Earth can no longer support its “unwise” human populations. 

It is likely that mass starvation, lack of potable water, destroyed non-productive agriculture, pandemics of diseases we do not even have names for, and the like, will soon eliminate many millions of us humans. Yet, this loss of human beings will not be sufficient to counterbalance the on-going destruction of planet Earth. In the not too distant future, some will survive, most won’t. 

Note the insight my songwriter/philosopher hero Mr. Browne has to say about this ongoing tragedy from “Before the Deluge.” 

“And when the sand was gone and the time arrived; 

In the naked dawn only a few survived. 

And in attempts to understand a thing so simple and so huge. 

Before that they were meant to live after the deluge. 

Now, let the music keep our spirits high. 

Let the buildings keep our children dry. 

Let creation reveal its secrets by and by, by and by. 

When the light that’s lost within us reaches the sky.” 

While the music is magical; the message is not. 

Recent scientific studies indicate that ambient temperatures could rise so much that going outside for just a few hours in parts of India and Eastern China, “will result in death even for the fittest of humans.” When this occurs, mass migrations will occur; substantial exoduses from unlivable places have already begun. 

The World Bank has noted that more than 8 million starving people have left their homes for the Middle East, Europe and North America. In the African Sahel (borderline countries along the southern Sahara Desert, which is larger than the continental U.S.), millions of rural people, burdened by drought and widespread crop failures, have been streaming toward the coastal cities. 

The migrations already have caused substantial remapping of the world’s populations. These armies of immigrants may be welcomed with a different set of open arms; ones made of metal. 

What shall we do? Damned if I know. But one conclusion is clear: Mother Nature is a hard taskmaster. She neither forgets nor forgives. Treat her badly, as we have, and she will call in all debts. 

“Well, all I know is what I read in the newspapers.” – Will Rogers. 

David M. Taub was Mayor of Beaufort from 1990 through 1999 and served as a Beaufort County Magistrate from 2010 to 2015. You can reach him at david.m.taub42@gmail.com. 

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