Through the medium of podcasts, I’ve learned a great deal about people, events, history and perspectives. I listen while driving, tired of trying to find a satisfying radio station as I ride through spaces dead to sound waves.
Lately I’ve been listening to “Mobituaries,” a series of podcasts by one of the correspondents for “CBS Sunday Morning.” Maurice Roberto Rocca, otherwise known as Mo, has produced a series of podcasts titled “Mobituaries.” The pun caught my eye and I started listening to stories of Audrey Hepburn, Sammy Davis Jr., even the intentional poisoning by an Alabama fan of the Auburn University oaks at Toomer’s Corner.
The last one I listened to was about the Neanderthal race. Rocca presented his podcast with a guest whose DNA revealed that he was more than two percent Neanderthal, which, according to research, is fairly high. This race of humans became extinct approximately 40,000 years ago. What amazed me was why this race became extinct.
Neanderthals have been portrayed throughout time as big, dumb guys with deep, guttural voices. Surely, they did this to themselves. The podcast, in contradiction, portrayed them as rather intelligent and with voices that were higher-pitched. So how did this intelligent race disappear?
Climate change. Now there’s a phrase we hear almost daily. Folks argue to the left and right, up and down and inside out about climate change and how man is destroying the earth as we know it through carbon emissions. The purpose of this column is not to debate that issue. I believe man contributes, yes, but is man the sole factor in climate change?
The Neanderthal race became extinct due to climate change. And though I don’t know about life 40,000 years ago, I don’t believe those Neanderthals were poisoning the earth with carbon emissions. The earth was changing, yes; the climate was changing. Food sources for the Neanderthals, Ice Age species, began to die out due to climate change, thus producing the possibility of starvation.
I’m not the same person I was 50 years ago. My body has aged, it has changed shape, a few of my organs are diseased, my hair is gray. Even without the two diseases I live with, my body would still change over time, a natural progression toward death, and for me, toward the eternal. Though I still think at times that I am 25, my body vehemently disagrees. Everything that has been created changes, and the earth is no different. Climate change, I propose, is, in part, a result of the earth’s natural progression as it ages.
Certainly, I can contribute to my body’s demise or to its health. The same is true for man’s stewardship of the earth. There is no question we are guilty of contributing to the earth’s sicknesses, but I don’t believe we are the sole cause.
The apostle John puts this in spiritual terms for me: “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17). Likewise, the apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:31: “For this world in its present form is passing away.” The promise of this demise is this: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away…” (Rev. 21:1), and what a promise this is.
I’ll still recycle and do what I can to contribute to the earth’s health, but like my own body, there is just so much I can do. I cannot stop the progression toward an eventual end, or, as I see it, a new beginning.