In Greek mythology, Gaia was the mother goddess both presiding over and the personification of planet Earth.
The environmentalist James Lovelock co-opted Gaia's name to convey his sensible contention that the planet is an organic, self-regulating, sentient organism in its own right, requiring utmost respect.
If one accepts that definition then, to Gaia, its human inhabitants are deadly parasites sucking the lifeblood out of its arterial systems and destabilising the very fabric of its being.
Gaia would have started to seriously worry what sort of malevolent nasties were afflicting her body when most of Europe was deforested four or five millennia ago to fuel the innumerable smelters that powered the copper and bronze ages.
It must have been something of a relief when she managed to conjure up a competing plague in the 14th century – now known as the Black Death - which dealt to about 100 million of these accursed pests. But it was temporary respite.
In the first century BC, Cleopatra's home city of Alexandria was the world's biggest, with a population less than that of Christchurch today. The global population is now pushing eight billion.
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What's more, these proliferating homo sapiens parasites have developed arsenals of deadly tools with which they lose no opportunity to drill, hack, drain, hew, burn, wrench and rip at Gaia's delicate skin to extract resources in unrelenting attempts to satisfy insatiable material appetites.
The side effects of all this rapacity are that Gaia's respiratory system is damaged to the extent that, without serious remedial action, her entire life-sustaining mechanism will collapse within a human generation or two.
Should this occur, the only consolation for Gaia will be that the offending parasite will have ultimately failed - the pre-eminent rule of any parasite being to keep the host body alive lest both parties expire.
Constant ecological degradation induces Gaia to fight back with a range of biological weapons.
Malaria alone continues to wipe out about 400,000 humans per year.
Miscellaneous fevers, cancers and influenzas deal to multiple millions.
Us parasites in our stupidity even unleash various self-made weapons on ourselves from time to time in major wars, leaving millions more dead. But still we multiply exponentially.
A new virus – Covid-19 -is abroad as we speak, but from Gaia's point of view its effect seems to be negligible.
The likelihood is that its victims worldwide will number less than half those meeting a premature end merely from bicycle accidents alone.
Gaia knows it can't survive unless either it can shed substantially more parasites or the parasites get wise.
A few prescient scientists blew the whistle on the impending ecological disaster about half a century ago, but it's only now beginning to be taken seriously politically.
What it means in essence is that the old notion of "economy", with attendant perpetual "growth", is dead. Turns out the growth was feeding a giant tumour.
Yes, the planet is subject to various natural climatic cycles - ice ages, et al - but the evidence is in that the current problem mostly lies in human agency.
Yet even parasites possess a collective brain, which means we can still consciously decide to reverse our misdeeds.
However, the current Coronavirus situation proves we've learnt little.
Shrill sounds emanate from the Beehive about fighting disruption to the economy. But that's the old economy. It demands disruption and redirection.
The new economy's criteria must reflect mainly that which combats climate warming.
Accordingly, measures like curtailing tourist air travel (large airliners use a dozen tonnes of fuel just to take off), reduction in international shipping, curbing retail consumerism, and such, are the new bottom-line strategies essential to planetary survival.
Meanwhile, unwoke Air New Zealand offers $9 airfares to Australia, trying to preserve the dumb old days.
A meteor strike dealt to the dinosaurs.
Unless we humans change tack big time, a meteorological strike by Gaia will put our grand-kids in the same grave.