(This is gonna be a bit of a grim one, folks. Don’t let it spoil your Monday)
Went to the museum last week. They have an exhibit on global climate change. Quite a relevant topic this summer.
The Holocene appears to be upon us. The energies we have unleashed in the past two hundred years are, outside of our intentions, warping the very earth on which we stand. The Earth’s atmospheric conditions now resemble those of several million years ago, prior to human existence. Seven billion people and more, growing constantly, shoving aside all else for our cities, our fields, our mines, disrupting all ecosystems. If all turns out for the worst, we face the Sixth Great Extinction.
And it won’t be any different from the other five.
Every so often, there’s going to be a mass extinction. It’s just how the dice tumble. It makes no difference if the medium is bolide impact, supervolcanic activity, or one oversuccessful species. All are the same thing, patterns of matter and energy.
There is nothing supernatural about humanity. We are the same, in essence, as bolides and volcanoes. The same rules of reality govern our biological behavior as govern astronomy and geology. If we put ourselves in a different category, it’s just pride talking. Our consciousness is not special.
Whatever might get wiped out in the coming centuries, life will go on. It’s difficult to sterilize an entire planet. Something will be left and it will evolve and things will continue, just like after the dinosaurs. The sun has about five billion years before it turns into a red giant—that’s enough time to replay the entire history of life. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again. Don’t let pride of species fool you.
I’m hoping this isn’t the case. I want us to find another way as much as anybody else. But if it does happen or if it doesn’t, it will be according to the arithmetic of nature.
(It’s fascinating to think of another intelligent species, a billion years from now. By that point, there were be no identifiable trace of human culture. World geography will be completely different. But the geological evidence will be there, bizarre anomalies in the rock record. Perhaps their scientists will learn to look for it, will come to identify our population centers and perhaps a few other choice points. Perhaps they will wonder what we did, and what happened to us.)