Monday, April 27, 2009

The Swine Flu and Life After People...

At this point, it's impossible to avoid the news media's intense focus on swine flu. Am I the only person who feels as though the news media is portraying the outbreaks as though it's the beginning of the end of all of humanity?

While it's sad that some people have died, the vast majority of those effected experience symptoms no worse than the typical flu. Unfortunately, that's not how this is being presented. The fear machine drives far higher ratings than a calm, drama-free, presentation of the facts. You'd think we're on the brink of having 28 Days Later become a reality.

Tonight I wanted to escape from the madness so I turned on TiVo to see what was recorded. Of course there were the typical staples found on many TiVos, such as 24, Heroes, and The Office. But today, there was something new, something perfect for the occasion. The first of a multi-part special from the History Channel called "Life After People."

The mini-series is a window into what transformations might take place if people were to disappear from the Earth suddenly. It starts at "Day 1 After People" and progresses through the coming weeks, months, and years.

At first, it's quite sad. The world would plunge into darkness in few short days as power grids go offline, many of our pets would starve to death, and the slow but certain march of wiping all traces of civilization would begin.

But this story is actually one of hope.

There's no question that we've polluted our atmosphere, devastated habitats the world over as we're reshaped them from forests to cities, and pushed millions of species to the brink of extinction. In the end, it doesn't really matter.

In a few hundred years, our sprawling suburbs would become forests once more. Our cities would be converted into new habitats for the wildlife that would undoubtedly return, at least until they crumble into piles of rubble. Slowly, the man-made world we live in today would return to the shapeless minerals and metals from which they came.

Sure, it's sad for all of us, but that's a selfish view of the world. Life would just go on... All traces of man would just turn to dust and blow away in time. I found that strangely comforting -- but maybe that's just me.


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