První ze tří dílů trilogie hostujícího autora Jirky Herrmanna, která nese název Giving a Waffle, je tady. Ponechávám ji v původním znění a s krátkou českou anotací „vlastní výroby“.
Série přednášek s názvem Giving a Waffle vznikla minulý rok v rámci programu Toastmasters ve firmě Red Hat. Její název je hravou obměnou anglické fráze „giving a f*ck“, která neformálně vyjadřuje zájem o danou problematiku (v tomto případě o životní prostředí a náš vztah k němu). Použitím vaflí místo vulgarismů Jirka odlehčuje téma, ale zároveň se snaží vážně upozornit na to, že každý z nás by měl přijmout osobní zodpovědnost za to, aby se lidské pobývání na Zemi… nezvaflilo. Ani ne tak kvůli planetě, která si už prošla lecčíms a bez nás se v pohodě obejde, ale hlavně kvůli nám, lidem.
Episode 1: Hell (on) Earth
Autor textu: Jiří Herrmann
Úvodní fotografie: Chris Barbalis
„Our planet is dying!“ – „Save the Earth!“ – „We are destroying our world!“
Declarations like this have been hotly discussed in the recent months and years, and I’m sure quite a few people made it their new year’s resolution to do something about them. Today, I would like to talk about how these statements are, actually, wrong.
Now, you might be wondering: „What the fudge does this have to do with waffles?“ Well, the truth is, I originally prepared this as a series of talks, and I was going to use a lot of F-words. But, turns out that sounds kinda uncouth, and also fairly depressing. So, to make things a bit more upbeat, I replaced all of that unpleasantness – with waffles!
With that out of the way, let’s start with a brief-ish history lesson.
The primeval inferno
A long waffling time ago, our planet was, according to modern research, basically hell. In fact, geologists nowadays call the period Hadean – hellish, and not without good reason. It was shortly after Earth was formed, its surface was scorching hot, and the atmosphere was full of stardust . That is to say, it was unbreathable, pervaded by carbon, sulphur, and various metallic and mineral particles. These elements also maintained what we now know as the greenhouse effect, which made it quite difficult for all that heat to go the waffle away. In short, back then, Earth was abso-waffling-lutely incompatible with life as we know it.
A tomb of many stories
Over the course of millions and millions of years, the outer crust of our planet solidified into what we now call the lithosphere – so basically rocks – and a lot of the stardust from the atmosphere got absorbed into it. This made it possible for the planet to cool down a bit. As a result of this, plus a series of fortunate bio-chemical coincidences, water appeared on the surface of Earth, and became the home to the first simple organisms – first unicellular, then multicellular.
Over their lifetimes, these primordial critters absorbed vast quantities of elemental particles from the environment into their shells and bodies. Then, as they died, their carcasses sunk to the bottom of the prehistoric ocean, and buried the particles they bore in the sea sediment, in the rocks, and later in soil. This gradually formed layers and deposits of minerals and metals, including for instance iron, gold, coal, or oil.
Eventually, the absorption of stardust into the planet’s crust made the atmosphere clean and hospitable enough for more complex life forms to evolve on land – all the way to mammals, and humans.
The price of progress
Fast forward a few million years, us humans have figured out that we can use all that stardust imprisoned in the Earth to improve our lives. Over time, we learned how to heat up wood from the trees to create fire, to warm ourselves up and cook our food. We learned how to till and seed fertile soils, to grow crops and rear livestock. We learned how to mine iron, gold, and other metals, to use for instruments, for trade, and for decoration. And we learned how to dig up oil, to power our machinery and run our industry. In essence, all of human civilization has been fueled by the little bits and pieces of the primordial hell, which we have unearthed from its prison.
The problem is – the more we do all that, the more we release back into our world all the stuff that made our planet unlivable all those billions of years ago. Carbon dioxide, methane, sulfur, ammonia, and more. And as a bonus, we’re also producing other poisons of our own making on the side.
This is where the waffles come in.
Hell (on) Earth, again
In many ways, the presence of all that waffling stardust in our environment makes the Earth slowly inch back towards the „Hadean“ state – towards hell. The greenhouse effect is amplifying, drinkable water sources are disappearing, the air is becoming less breathable, entire ecosystems are crumbling, and so on.
But! To get back to my opening point, none of this is necessarily a problem for the planet. As we mentioned, Earth has quite literally gone through hell, and gotten better. So, it most likely won’t tear open or fall apart because of what humans do. However, this hellification – or „climate change“, as it is rather euphemistically called – is a big waffling problem for us.
From the planet’s point of view, our bodies have evolved extremely recently and under a very specific set of conditions. And if these conditions were to change even a little (from the planet’s perspective), it would make Earth, once again. utterly incompatible with pretty much all currently living things – and especially humans. In other words, we’d be waffled.
But how exactly can that happen, and what can we do to prevent it? Well, those are topics for two more Episodes. For now, I’d like to thank you for reading this far, and have a waffling awesome rest of your day!
Sources and further info
- Yann Arthus-Bertrand: Home (2009)
- Encyclopaedia Britannica: Hadean Eon
- National Toxicology Program
- Catherine Ingram: Facing Extinction
- David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (2020)
- David Attenborough: Our Planet (2019)
- Energy Education: Oil formation