23.5 Degrees

We’re slightly off.

23.5 degrees off, actually.

By some accounts, 4.5 billion years ago a Mars-sized object collided with earth, breaking off the moon and knocking the earth sideways.

But were it not for this slight tilt, the equator would be an uninhabitable inferno, and the temperate zones that most people live in would not be all that temperate. The earth would stratify into climate bands. The diversity of species the earth now enjoys would be dramatically reduced. Perpetually warm weather would tend to spread disease:  cold winter temperatures kill off disease-spreading insects.

Storable foods like wheat, corn, potatoes, oats and barley need cool or cold weather to grow. Without storable food, people would tend to live in scattered groups.

Seasonal cold weather led to the need for heat in the winter. As wood for fires grew scarce, man discovered coal, an even more efficient fuel. Coal-fired heat was used to make steam, and locomotion was born.

And then oil was discovered and was used to fire entirely new types of engines.

One of these new engines, the turbine, was used to make electricity. And electricity was used to make light.

In a leap of engineering know-how, waterways were dammed and used for power. Electricity was used to power appliances and factory machines.

Then nuclear power was invented.

And now all this electricity powers a dizzying array of machines and computing devices, which allow us to learn, communicate and create in ways never thought possible.

Viola, western civilization.

We grow and have our being by this cosmic imperfection. So maybe we should stop demanding perfection from ourselves and others.

A train that goes off the tracks is not evil, wrong or inferior in some way. It is simply off the rails. And that can be fixed. And so can we.

Thomas the Tank Engine Off the Rails

Off the rails? Not to worry.

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