Al Qaeda may have saved us all when they invaded our playground, took our toys, and used them to bloody our noses. They didn’t intend to save us at all, of course, any more than native Africans ever intended to protect wild species, but the end result may be the same. Whatever humans may do in their history, the Earth will survive, and so will Life, I feel sure. It is the human race itself that is most at stake. Nature’s most precious and precocious creation likes to play with fire, and that’s dangerous. When we create nuclear bombs and splice genes, the genie is out of the bottle, and may not go back in. If the human race goes extinct, it won’t ever come back. By the same token, if culture degenerates, it may never come back either. When western culture degenerated previously in the Dark Ages, there were others to pick up the slack and make it their own. This time around, the stakes are much higher and the world much more integrated. Frankly, I’ll be glad when all the oil is gone and we can get on with our lives either with something else or nothing at all. Oil is bad politics, reminiscent of the lust for gold five hundred years ago, reminiscent of the lust for lust that we struggle with every day. Maybe we should just slow things down a bit and see if our lives aren’t just as good at a slower speed. Unfortunately we can’t ask others to accept a status quo which leaves them at a permanent disadvantage. I guess we’re on this roller coaster until some unseen hand decides to put on the brakes. At least maybe we could agree to stop molecular biology short of cloning. After all, everybody likes sex, right?