Monday, November 15, 2010

Nature laughs at us.

This is a Venus flytrap. It's just a little plant. The leaves are able to close over insects if two of the four internal triggers are tripped and if it gets one, that leaf seals closed and acts as a stomach. The insect is digested.

I know, I shouldn't use flash facing glass but it was the only way. This little plant has been in my greenhouse all year as a natural pest control but now it's cold, it's inside.

The insect-catching part is pretty clever for a plant that lives in nutrient-poor swampland but it's not the cleverest part. It does something much cleverer.

The flower stalk appeared many weeks ago. Since I have seen 'The little shop of horrors' I thought, if that thing says hello, it'll be meeting the secateurs. It didn't. It produced a very long stalk with flowers at the top and as soon as the flowers opened, it stopped producing insect-catching leaves.

This plant, like most plants, needs insects to carry pollen from one flower to another. It also needs insects for nutrients because its natural habitat has so few. So, in a remarkably clever way, it puts its flowers well out of reach of its insect-catching leaves and also reduces its rate of production of those leaves. Now that it's nearly finished flowering it's throwing out the flycatchers again.

That's thinking ahead. By a plant.

Oh sure, we can say that it's just evolutionary response, but that means we have to reduce human 'thinking ahead' to evolutionary response too. Which will we have? Religion puts us above nature, atheism makes us part of nature but above mere animals and plants but that is not logical.

Plants have been here a hell of a lot longer than humans, by the Dawkins Directive, therefore we cannot claim to be evolutionarily superior to plants. Or even bacteria. Intelligent human life has, by geological timescale, only just popped up. So have plants, reptiles and birds stayed stupid all that time?

One thing or the other is all I'm asking. Are we part of nature or not?

I'd say we are but we are not a big part. Not as big as we imagine, not by a long way. We see ourselves as masters of the universe.

Nature sees us as monkeys with shiny toys.

We are part of nature, we are not and never have been its masters. Even if you take the religion standpoint of Adam and Eve, we are not in charge. We are merely gardeners.

We don't even have the observational skills of a pigeon...

So let's keep our arrogance in check. We are a fairly impressive species for the current epoch, but if we had been around in T. rex's day we'd have been a food crop. We make estimates of the universe based on local observations, we declare scientific rules that might or might not apply beyond the small places we have measured and we insist that we are in some way important.

Yet, if the Climatologists are to be believed, a degree or two of warming will kill us all even though here in Scotland the difference between summer and winter can far exceed 40 C. It has been wider. Scotland is not depopulated. The country is not brought to its knees by climate change (aka seasonal variation). And I can assure you, it's not warm here.

We were part of nature but we are becoming a joke. Scared of a bit of frost or of the sun that keeps us alive. Frightened of 0.5 C temperature change when nobody lives anywhere that doesn't vary by ten times that amount within 24 hours.

Nature is not out to get us. Nature is just laughing.

Nature - and this is the hard part to get - genuinely doesn't care.

Nature is busy with new stuff. We are old stuff.


Southern Writer said...

Well said. I've always felt the same way. Thanks for the funny video, too.

Ver: splomboa

Doesn't mean anything, but it should, Has a nice ring to it.

Romulus Crowe said...

I like the QI series. Facts and funnies are a good mix.

opinions powered by