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Monday, October 03, 2011

Sunday Thoughts - Remnants of an Old World Part 1:

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How do we tell when a building is old?  I have spent the last few days in old Spanish towns built during Midieval times; towns surrounded by thick walls within which lie huge castles where once sat the Kings of old upon their thrones.  Towns that were constructed centuries upon centuries ago to ward away the barbarians.  And they are certainly showing their age.


The once polished wooden walls with their brilliant silver handles and studs have now rusted, and their sheen has vanished; T¡the colors of the intricately embroidered tapestries adorning the throne rooms have dulled; the moats have all run dry and small tendrils of foliage creep their way into the cracks of what was once an imprenetrable fortress wall.  


Some structures lay simply in ruins, naught but piles of rocks with only a mere semblance of their previous form.  But that is all a matter of time.  Upon this planet of ours, nothing is still, regardless of how much so it may appear to be.  Structures built today will crumble and fade in a comparative blink of an eye.  From the moment is pulled up from its place of rest and relocated somewhere else, the Earth begins its work to bring it back into its clutches, along with anything that it may well be newly attatched to.  Call it entropy, call it decay, call it what you will, it is the force of nature that works every moment to return what has been taken from it.


And it is a powerful force indeed.  We have professions dedicated to keeping this force at bay.  It is why we have caretakers and maintenance crews and even simple gardeners to keep out the weeds.  To leave something unattended is to leave it at the mercy of the Earth.  Our strongest buildings can be slowly taken apart by the seemingly gentle force of a tree looking to take root in the ground, and once we are not there to look after what we have made, it shall be reclaimed by the Earth.  


When we look bac, at the relics left by civilizations past we see this process at work. We see our thousand-year-old structures still standing and think ourselves invincible.  But that time is nothing on a geological scale.  Or a cosmic scale.  And that which is left pales in comparison to that which was;  I imagine the original inhabitants of these places would be ashamed of how much their immortal societies have withered.  


It makes you wonder.  What will our world look like in a hundred years after we're gone?  And we will go.  We like to think of ourselves as everlasting, prepared for anything the Earth can throw at us.  But as recent years have shown, we still have a long ways to go; where the Earth's natural processes take hundreds or thousands of years to erode out architecture, a strong hurricane, earthquake, volcano or tsunami can dismantle our cities in mere seconds and wash our history all away.  We will not live forevermore.  So what will be left of us a hundred years after we're gone?  How about a thousand years?  And how long until our societies have decayed to the point that we ourselves wouldn't even recognize them?  


Because despite all of the campaigns that we run, and all of the green policies we pass, one thing remains true.  And it remains as true now as it was true centuries and millenia ago.  As it is true every day of the week.


We are no match for the environment.

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