Friday, September 25, 2009

Life's Best Defense (response to xx)

I don't have time to complete the Atlantean short story this month. Indeed, I am only an hour or so away from October. Fortunately, the comment by xxRememberedxx has given me a good idea. Tks. =)

Xx alerted me to the presence of a 'Voluntary Human Extinction Movement'. It has a very interesting website full of morbid insights and black humor (though I generally do not agree with the movement's arguments). Basically the movement believes in ending humanity to save the earth.

From that website, I read an article by James Lovelock (the sage of Gaia) predicting climatic apocalypse. At the end of the article were these interesting lines:

"Perhaps the saddest thing is that Gaia will lose as much or more than we do. Not only will wildlife and whole ecosystems go extinct, but in human civilization the planet has a precious resource. We are not merely a disease; we are, through our intelligence and communication, the nervous system of the planet. Through us, Gaia has seen herself from space, and begins to know her place in the universe."

In humanity, life has become self-conscious. And we are more than that. We are life's best defense, the biosphere's only hope. Those who advocate the end of humanity, indirectly advocates the probable extinction of all life on earth.

That may sound strange when humans are such obvious villains. Yet in the long run, the sun will run out of fuel--becoming a red giant that will burn up all life on earth, before dwindling to become a dead white dwarf. For now at least, humanity is the only species that could preserve mother Gaia. There are many ways to do this. For instance, we could fly off to another star, or given that we have many billions of years to think about the problem, find a way to reverse the sun's 'natural' death. Or we can simply build a new sun. Within 400 years we have progressed from wooden boats to moon-landing crafts. What could we potentially accomplish in a few more billion years?

And in the really long run, the universe could face a 'cold death' or a 'heat death'--which amounts to the same thing for life, actually. Again, intelligence, a transcendental one in this case, is life's only hope. Out of all the species on earth, human beings have the best chance of changing cosmic destiny, of building a new universe, or simply morphing into something else altogether.

One may of course argue that human extinction may allow a kinder and sweeter intelligent species to evolve. But this is to play with odds we do not understand. What are the chances of intelligence evolving a second time? We do not really know. Given what is at stake, do we wish to gamble? And why should any successor intelligent species necessarily be any kinder or wiser?

If consciousness is valuable, if life is priceless, then I suppose we must bear with ourselves. Till something greater comes.