I follow the path cresting the flowing rock walls into a wooded area. On a boulder, I find a puddle likely formed from the previous night's rain. Flies scour the water’s surface like turkey vultures above the wooded canopy. A pungent, septic smell swirls in the breeze blown across the shallow water’s surface. I hear a bug zip behind me and then I become aware of the faint hum of a road or highway also off to my rear. It is all around me—nature. A footpath once cut through the forest and provided a route for the occasional traveler. The path grew to account for horses, carts and buggies, and now a road. A carbon scar slices through the landscape. This human-made scar not only affects its immediate vicinity, but the whole system it is contained in. Like a spinning cog within a machine.
The sun is always setting and rain is always falling. Life is always growing and oceans are always circulating. Natural cycles are constantly at work. An infinite amount of cycles toiling in an imperfect manner can give rise to a vast array of possibilities. These natural cycles predate life, but can take on a lively or lifeless form. The same cycles that present sensory information to the biosphere’s inhabitants are the likely cause of the biosphere. But a feat such as the creation of life does not seem easily accomplishable.
There is no rush associated with natural, eternal, cyclic toiling. Each natural cycle completes a loop and then loops again in an everlasting manner. Each cycle moves to the beat of its own loop, interacting with other omnipresent cycles. Over time – and I am talking a long time, as human ancestry only extends a micro fraction of the estimated 4.5 billion years that the Earth has been around – these cycles will change, add to, destroy, or influence one another because they are interacting.
Are we all another cycle? Humankind fits into the equation when this level of description is used. We are an accumulation of previous cycles that have been operating on earth for 4.5 billion years, and in the Universe for nearly 14 billion. Each day we follow the cycle of the sun. The sun rises, humans awake. The sun sets, humans sleep. We have become another interacting cog in the mechanism of nature, and like the other spinning cogs we change, add to, destroy, or influence the spin of cogs that we interact with, and that those cogs interact with, and so on. What influence has humankind, a single cog, had on the rest of the mechanism, and how has the mechanism responded? I believe climate change is humanity's most extensive effect on the mechanism.