Discounting the fact that Earth is sandwiched between two poles making her by default bi-polar, how would our dear Gaea fare on a psychological screening test? Any guesses?
Well, speculate no longer. This morning I ran into her at the park and struck up a conversation. We started with the usual icebreakers: glacial melt ponds, global warming, warm ocean undercurrents, and the CCGS Terry Fox, then quickly moved on to more personal matters such as her recent lack of albedo.
During the 10 minutes or so when we discussed possible solutions for her intense distress, she kept spitting on me, then drying it up, then spitting again, and drying it again, until she became so flustered that she just dumped a random bucket of water on my head and laughed hysterically. But did she stop there? No.
She ran from tree to tree breaking off branches and throwing them, howling, and hissing at people. Then, just as suddenly as she had started the rampage, she stopped, calmly walked over to me, and beamed: “There are some sexy dog walkers around here.”
I nodded like a plastic bobble head doll.
At that point it was clear to me that she was somewhat unstable, but to what extent, I did not know. Was she a danger to herself? Was she a danger to me? Was she a danger to humanity at large even? I thought it important to determine how serious her personality swings were so I asked if she would take a short survey. To my surprise she replied: “Bring it on!”
Here is the transcript.
K: “Please rate each statement on a scale from 1 to 5 as follows: 1 – not at all, 2 – somewhat, 3 – yeah, I guess, 4 – looks like, 5 – you bet. All clear?”
G: “You bet!”
K: “Great! Would you say…At times I create much more wind or blow it much faster than usual?”
G: “You bet!”
K: “Would you say…There have been times when I was much more tectonically active or shook many more things than usual?”
G: “You bet!”
K: “How about…I get into storm states where I feel very speeded up or irritable?”
G: “You bet!”
K: “Hmmm. And…There have been weather patterns when I have felt both high and low at the same time?”
G: “You bet! How about you read them and you can assume it’s a ‘you bet’ unless I say otherwise?”
K: “Sounds good to me. OK…At times I have had a much stronger albedo than usual?”
G: “Usual meaning the new normal? You bet!”
K: “My microorganisms range from great self-regulation to equally great overabundance.”
K: “There have been GREAT variations in the quantity or quality of my rainfall.”
K: “For no apparent reason I sometimes have been VERY angry or hostile to humans.”
G: (giggling) “My bad.”
K: “I’ll take that as a ‘You bet’. (short pause) I have periods of mundane predictability and other periods of very creative mayhem.”
K: “Right. Just moving along now…At times I am greatly interested in connecting with people and at other times I just want to be left alone.”
G: “That would be a 10 – You frackin’ know it!”
K: “All right then next…I have had periods of great optimism for humanity and other periods of equally great pessimism.”
G: (sighing and nodding)
K: “And finally…I have had periods of drizzle and torrential downpour and other times when I shine and scorch excessively.”
Her silence said it all.
Gaea took a quick look around, leaned over to me, and whispered: “Does this surprise you?”
I must admit that I was surprised, but not that she was pathologically bipolar rather that she was still holding it all together despite all the crap she has been swallowing since the industrial revolution.
On that note, she hugged me, rubbed my back and flew south to primp for the hurricane season.
So. Where does that leave us?
Is Earth’s current extreme behaviour a reflection of her true nature or are we wittingly (or not) swinging her back and forth on a long pipeline with a slip knot tied to its end? A slip knot with humanity’s neck in the noose?
And now, a quote from the most famous psychoanalyst of the 20th century.
“Fossil fuels are a mistake, a giant mistake.” ~ Si Mondo Fried
I vote to grab some shears and snip!
What about you?
Render of Earth – Wikimedia Creative Commons
Note: questions adapted from the Goldberg Bipolar Spectrum Screening Questionnaire