I keep pondering the issue of life. What it means. Life on earth. We know that life on earth has existed for around 3.5 billion years, and that the sun will grow in intensity until it makes the earth uninhabitable to life in somewhere between 1.75 and 3.25 billion years from now.
Time is running out. Life on earth is somewhere in a late mid-life crisis.
Modern human beings (Homo sapiens) have existed for around 200,000 years, to the best of our ability to calculate. 200,000 out of the 3.5 billion years of life on earth. That’s about 0.006% of the time that life has existed on earth. Very insignificant, in other words. The blink of an eye.
I was just reading an article saying that once earth becomes uninhabitable due to the sun growing ever hotter (in 1.75 billion years or so), human beings will have to find another habitable planet in the universe.
Here’s my philosophical dilemma. What right do we have to leave the earth and inhabit some other planet? What arrogance must we have to think that our big-brained species which has existed for only 0.006% of the time that life has existed on earth is the be-all and end-all of evolution? Why do we think that a human species that has evolved so dramatically over 200,000 years wouldn’t continue to evolve into a completely different species or many many new species given another 1.75 billion years to evolve? Why do we think the present human condition is the pinnacle of evolution? That our species is not continuing to evolve?
To my thinking, life on earth is a subset of the lifespan of earth itself. Earth was born, evolved, and will die. Our sun will also die. Inevitably. Our species can’t expect to live forever. Life is not eternal. Even the universe itself will someday die, perhaps to start the process all over again.
So the arrogance of saying our species must colonize other planets to just keep propagating ourselves infinitely to me is as illogical as the religious concept of eternal life in heaven. The Homo sapiens species very likely will not exist in 1.75 billion years time. Our lineage may not even contribute the next dominant species on earth. We could go extinct (many species that lived much longer than ours have gone extinct, we certainly wouldn’t be the first dominant species to blink out). The next dominant species could be the future descendant of present-day slime mold for all we know. Because a couple hundred million years ago our ancestors were furry little mice-like creatures that lived in trees while dinosaurs happily dominated life on earth with presumably an air of invincibility. But we know how that worked out.
I’m all for space exploration and better understanding the universe. The thirst for knowledge is unquenchable. But this talk of the current human species persisting indefinitely on planets beyond earth is just nonsense.
What do you think? Do we have the right to claim another planet even if we find one?
Wouldn’t we all be better off accepting that life is finite and precious? That we only have a short time on this earth so we damned well better make the most of it while we can? Because we’re just an asteroid collision and a few hundred million years away from being the next source of oil.