© 2011 Josh wet-floor

Kate’s not really a Jerk.

I may be an idiot, having only put this together in my head, but i’ve been a smoker on and off, mostly on, for 12 years. In all that time I’ve never bothered to wonder why tobacco is addictive; I mean, not why nicotine is addictive, but why does tobacco contain an addictive chemical. The plant is asking to be consumed, frequently, by animals with complex brains; it seems strange that a plant would develop a characteristic that leads directly to it’s consumption; but it’s really the same reason that fruit is sweet.

Some plants depend on animals for seed dispersal, it’s part of the reason that seeded fruits are sweet and brightly colored.  Part of the cycle of the plant’s life requires the fruit to be consumed so that the seeds can be carried inside the animal to another place, where they are distributed as part of the animals normal waste elimination process.  Not all animals are good for seed dispersal, but the process works incredibly well, in general.

Now nicotine is actually a neurotoxin, which actually deters consumption by insects and some animals; but all mammals can develop an addiction to nicotine; which conjures images of herds grazing cattle, addicted to nicotine, unable to stray far from fields where the nutrient hungry and invasive weed has choked out other plants, fertilizing, pruning, and carrying seeds, until the rich nutrients provided by the short lived, nicotine saturated cattle’s slow decomposition enriches the soil, creating the perfect conditions for more tobacco growth.

The picture of tobacco as a siren, luring the unwitting, lumbering beasts into a brown sea of poisonous weeds almost attributes a sick intelligence to the life form.  But the real mind-fuck is how incredibly effective at survival tobacco really is.  Humanity is it’s slave; coddling it, nurturing seedlings in carefully controlled environments until they can be transplanted to fields where ideal conditions have been established, where the plants are allowed a long, luxurious existence until they reach full maturity.  After death, the plants travel the world, exposing new beings constantly to their influence, increasing the need for ever expanding habitats, painstakingly maintained by humans who’s entire careers are devoted to the care of this plant.

Tobacco spread across the world in just a few years from the time it was discovered, and swiftly became a significant participant in the global economy.  Now tobacco enjoys a life of leisure, stretching out across sprawling plantations in nearly every part of the world. It’s very existence dependent on it’s own ability to create a need for itself within the biological system of earth.   Way to go, tobacco.

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