Monday, August 23, 2004

The Biggest Picture

I wrote this on the Edwards blog on December 15, 2003 and copied it on a few months later:

An individual can be a President of USA for 4-8 years.

Human civilization is, depending on your definition of civilization, about 5,000-20,000 years old.

Human species has been around for about 1.000,000 years.

There has been Life on Earth for about 3,500.000,000 years.

Do you have the power of imagination to imagine a 100 years? How about a thousand? Ten thousand? A million years? A billion?

Let’s take a mental trip to the future, let’s say about 100 years from now. What are the kids going to learn in school about the year 2003 or 2004? Capture of Saddam? Unlikely, Saddam will not even be just one of many names in the boring and ever-growing list of people kids will be disgruntled for being forced to learn about. They are much more likely to be taught that in this year some of the oldest man-made articles were lost forever in the plunder of the Baghdad museum and archeological sites in the Iraqi countryside.

Now, let’s get back into our time machine and go even farther into the future, how about 1000 years from now? How are the people of that age going to evaluate us? By the way we taught our kids, took care of the sick, elderly or poor? By the way countries dealt with each other? By which countries were and which were not around? By the fact that separate countries even existed – what a curiosity! Naw! We will be judged by the way we took care of the environment and what kind of Earth we left them to live on.

People come and go, Presidents come and go, countries come and go, wars are waged and forgotten, but the environmental impacts of human practices linger for centuries. While everything else is important in short-term, environmental policies are THE most important within a big picture, and thus have to trump all other considerations. Also, it can be done without taking away from anything else. There is no need for war between environmentalists and business – the way modern ecology stands, the two can and should go hand in hand. We are part of nature and we should take care of ourselves and our own, in a way that benefits both us and other creatures.

In a couple of billion years, the conditions on Earth will become unsuitable for life. Another billion or so, and the Sun will explode. Hopefully, by that time we’ll be able to go off into space, find a decent planet and reconstruct an Earth-like ecology there. For that, we need to start now, by investing in basic biology, from molecules to ecosystems, in physics that will make inter-stellar journeys possible, and in space exploration, which will develop the necessary engineering skills for such a feat. Everything else is just here-and-now, as important as it seems to us today.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 8:21 AM | permalink | (1 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink