I enjoyed George Carlin’s humor and observations about life until he got a little too crusty and angry for my taste late in his career.  One thing that he talked about that I found very interesting was his take on the environment.

I have a similar view when it comes to our quest to save the world.   It has been speculated that the earth has been around for five billion years or so and, if scientists are to be believed, will be here for another five billion years before the sun dies taking the entire solar system with it.   In the face of that time frame, it may be a little presumptuous of us to believe that anything we do for or against the environment will have any meaningful impact on the future of the world.

In the scheme of things, we are here less than a tick of the cosmic clock and nothing we can or will do could significantly change what happens over the next five billion years.  The world has died and been reborn many times in its geological history and no species has ever been able to stop such monumental forces or prevent their own extinction.   What makes us believe that we can have this kind of impact on our world?

Yes, to be sure, we may be able to temporarily create a cleaner more environmentally friendly world or, perhaps, even slow down the inevitable next reincarnation of the world.   Ultimately, however, the world will change in the way that the universe dictates and species will come and go, maybe, even us, as they have been for millennia before us.

That is not to say that we should not try to protect the environment even if it will only benefit us for a few generations.  I certainly want a healthy environment during my lifetime and that of my children and their children and, perhaps, their children; however, as we start to look into the more distant future we need to be realistic and just say good luck but you’re on your own.

I understand that protecting the environment spawns new industries and forces existing industries to become more efficient.   I am also all for recycling and believe that it is good for business and for us.  My point though is that we also must recognize that the forces at work here are too large for us to change the destiny of the world and that we are fooling ourselves and being presumptuous when we say we are going to save the world.  We may save ourselves for a while but the world will find its own way to rid itself of our waste and, perhaps, us along with it. The world will continue to die and be reborn regardless of what we do or don’t do.

By all means go green but don’t worry if all of that plastic and Styrofoam are still here five billion years from now because the trash will be taken out, so to speak, by that last cataclysmic ball of fire.