Sometimes I do stupid things despite the fact that I know better, and my stubbornness has been manifested in the form of a extremely painful sunburn all over my torso. Up until the year before last, I don’t remember ever experiencing sun burn at all, spending all day at the beach with only (at most) a little redness that never led to pain or peeling later on. This weekend was a different story, however, and after about 3 hours at the beach (1/2 of that time spent in the water) I have a burn that keeps me up a night and makes it painful to sit down or put on a shirt. I had a similar experience at Inversand a few weeks ago, and even though most of my body was covered up and therefore unaffected, I got a bad burn on the back of my ears from looking down at the marl all day.
While I was certainly stupid not to wear sun-screen (my wife and I forgot to bring some and didn’t feel like running out to buy some overpriced stuff from a shop in Spring Lake), I almost have to wonder if my more recent bad experiences with sun burns and the large number of skin cancer cases every year has something to do with the atmosphere. I know CFC’s were phased out during the 90’s, but that doesn’t mean that their effects stopped or even that the ones already released would not continue to deplete ozone in the atmosphere. In any case, I’m already starting to peel, giving me the appearance of so many of the anoles I kept in terrariums as a child, and hopefully things will only get better from here. Still, I should learn my lesson and go out of my way to wear protection from the sun, especially because last year my wife (then my fiancee) noticed a weird mole on my back that had never been there before. I cut it off myself and have not had any problems since, but I would be a fool if I invited skin cancer because I was too lazy to do anything about it.
This reminds me of a comment someone made to me this past weekend, too; they claimed that I was “speaking out both sides of my mouth” when it came to ecological preservation because I said man is feeble also but wields great destructive power. To this person it was an either-or question, but even a little thought decimates this logic. The most feeble person capable of pushing a button to launch a rocket or pull the trigger of a gun can unleash great destructive power, even though they may be fragile themselves. I am still amazed that humans exist at all, given that (as some like cartoonist Gary Larson have suggested) Homo sapiens is the walking equivalent of spam, as well as the fact that without technology we would be limited in our range of habitation and probably live short, brutal lives. We can decode the genome, level mountains, and create great works of art, but we can easily succumb from a fall down a few stairs, a spider bite, or allergy to peanut butter, and I do not see individuals of our species as any more durable or resilient than any other. There are always threats and dangers to life; we’re just better at getting around them or avoiding them than most other animals (although we have certainly created plenty of new dangers, and we continue to do so at our own peril).