Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A response to Sir Attenborough or Human Beings, the most important keystone species

Now its not often I would be presumptuous enough to correct one of my life long heros, Sir Attenborough, but I felt the need to respond to one of his more recent claims as I believe it is short-sighted and to a degree, very wrong.

In a recent tabloid article in the Telegraph, Sir Attenborough made the claim, "Humans are plague on Earth". He backed up he was saying with the following comment:

“We are a plague on the Earth. It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now,” he told the Radio Times.

Now at first glance that sounds like a pretty accurate sound-byte. We are humans, we do devastate the land around us and one might be mistaken to believe we are the worst thing to happen to the rest of life. One would also be patently wrong.

It is my belief that humanity is one of the single most important species of life. For all life. For all life that has ever been and all life that will ever be. (I can almost imagine, you the reader falling off your chair in laughter as you read this comment). Let me explain.

This planet we are on has a "sell by" date. It will eventually expire through one of many means. It could be hit by an asteroid large enough to make all life extinct. The Earth's magnetosphere could stop rotating and we could lose our atmosphere and assuming many other things do not destroy us. The sun is going to expand and absorb our planet over the next several billion years. Our Sun has an expiry date on it.

When the Sun expands, that's it. Game over for all life on Earth. Every single species will become extinct. There will just be a toasted rock left behind before that eventually melts and is absorbed into our expanding sun.

I'm not sure how that sinks in with you the reader but for me it is probably one of the saddest thoughts I can imagine.

Imagine if you will that the hippies take over the planet. Our planet becomes one of those Utopia Disney movie scenes where we frolic the rest of our existence in a perfectly symbiotic relationship with the rest of life.

We have no incentive to develop beyond what we have so why should we? We are in a Utopia. We are happy.

Then we all die. The sun expands or some giant meteorite or something kills us all.

What then? Everything that has lived and died, everything that has loved and hated, everything that has laughed and cried. It would all be for absolutely nothing. There will not even be anything around to remember that there was any life. There will simply be lifeless space. It would be as if life and everything life went through never existed in the first place.

I can not imagine a more depressing thought than all that waste.

Now back to my statement that humanity is a keystone species. If one looks back in time and at the dawn of humanities great civilizations, you can see there is an underlying cause of some of our greatest accomplishments  A lack of resources.

It is said one of the main reasons humanity developed the written word and learnt to live in huge societies together, is because we had to learn to work together to manage limited resources. This is also the reason why cultures that had an abundance of resources did not develop skills like the written word or develop great city civilizations until it was introduced by another culture.

Humanity is the ONLY species that we know if that is capable of taking life to the stars. If the rest of life is to exist then humanity has to survive and thrive and continue its technological advancements.

Eventually. If humanity gets it right. We can take the rest of life to the stars where concepts like, "over population" will never really be an issue again.

Humanity is literally life's only chance to exist beyond the expiry date of our planet. Humanity is not a plague  Its life's only chance to exist beyond the expiry date of our planet.

As Carl Sagan said, All civilizations become either spacefaring or extinct.

No comments:

Post a Comment