Fandango’s One Word Challenge today is finite. I have read other posts that have managed to cover several one word daily prompts in one post, which I admire. I have not attempted to do that. I don’t usually respond to the daily prompts due to lack of time or lack of inspiration. But the concept of FINITE got me to thinking…
Is there really such a thing as infinity or is it merely theoretical? Energy is infinite: it cannot be created or destroyed so it just moves around from one energy-based organism to another. Supposedly the universe is infinite, numbers are infinite, but the human mind cannot really conceive of infinity. In the human mind everything is finite. Our lives are finite: we are born on a particular date, we live our lives and then we die. Our experience exists within a finite framework: We live on a finite planet whose size and shape are fixed. The land forms on Earth have a beginning and an end. The bodies of water have delineated borders.
Time is finite even though we might say that we “have all the time in the world.” A day begins and ends, then another one begins. Years begin on January 1 and end on December 31, although time as we know and use it is an artificially imposed system that allows us to organize our lives. Perhaps time is infinite. Even after our deaths, the world goes on – or so we hope, if we don’t destroy it first.
Which brings me to something else that is finite: fossil fuels are finite. Eventually they will run out and there will be no more to be found. In our constant, frenzied search for sources of fossil fuels and our insatiable appetite to consume them, we are putting too much of the carbon that was safely trapped in the Earth into the atmosphere, which is essentially choking the Earth and causing changes to occur on our planet that may eventually lead to the impossibility of sustaining life.
Every natural disaster is finite, but after enduring one, there comes another one, and another one. How long can we take it? How many fires can California endure before the forests and cities become totally and irrevocably destroyed? How many hurricanes can people on the East Coast of the U.S. endure before they have nothing left and no way to even live where they do anymore? How many times can they “rebuild” in their stubbornness to stay put?
The Arctic is finite: climate conditions are causing the polar ice caps to melt. Trees and forests, which provide us with oxygen, are finite. It’s not just individual trees that die, to be replaced with others. Whole forests can die, will die if we don’t accept that our natural resources are finite unless we take care of them and the environment in which they exist.
Even the sun is finite – it’s halfway through its life now and is only expected to live another five billion years. That may seem like infinity to insignificant life forms with relatively short life spans and really, the death of the sun is not something humans need to worry about, but even so, the sun’s life – like the lives of all stars – is finite.
We are used to and expect this finite existence. Most people who die when they get old have left behind children and grandchildren, who will continue to perpetuate life on Earth. Species may continue, but not individuals. But even species – all species – will die eventually. How long will that be? How long will we accept species to go extinct and when will it be our turn?
Without Earth itself, there will be no more human life or any life at all on this planet. All the infinite energy that has inhabited every living thing will disperse into space and find a home elsewhere. That is why we must all accept that our planet is finite and how soon the end will come depends on us. Time is growing shorter until the demise of our dominion over the planet and all living things that depend on it. We have the power to stretch the finiteness of our planet farther toward infinity. It will probably require sacrifice on our part, as we will need to consume less. However, transferring to all clean energy sources will also create employment opportunities at every level. We can do this!
The only question remaining to be asked is, how finite are we willing to be?