Map of the world

Saving the planet

One thing I never cease to find fascinating about life on this planet is that in the grand scheme of things, human beings (and life as a whole) are only a flash in the pan relative to the age of this planet and the universe. Currently at the ripe old age of 4.57 billion years, scientists estimate that the Sun is still only around half way through its life. Whenever I think about this I realise that in reality, as I’m sure a lot of you do, as a 1 million year-old species living on just one out of an unimaginable number of planets, we form such a small part of existence it’s laughable.

Famous scene from 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'

A famous scene from ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. Are we alone? And did that film scare you when you were a kid?

Thinking about it further, I start wondering how unlikely it is that we are alone in the universe. It doesn’t take a scientist to have such doubts. Am I right?

Films, books and computer games all regularly deal with the subject of extra-terrestrial beings and guess at what they would do if they landed on Earth. More often than not, in these fictional works they come with lasers and bombs to wipe out humans.

I recently read in the National Geographic that scientists have opined that if aliens did come to blow up Earth, they might do so to ‘protect the galaxy’. Optimistic in my reckoning…

Just as the UK government has decided to allow the culling of badgers to protect farmer’s livestock, our penchant for pollution and unsustainable living on Earth might be seen by more eco-friendly aliens as a danger to the galaxy – time to sell the Humvee and buy a bike, maybe?

The growth of the human race has changed the face of our planet permanently, and I (among many) would say for the worse. While those in developed countries continue to devour the world’s fast-disappearing natural resources, the world population continues to rise.

Countries like China and India are becoming rich very quickly, and with the increase in wealth comes all the expectations of ‘Western’ living standards. Chinese people are eating more meat; Indian people are buying more luxury cars. Our planet already has trouble sustaining the meat-loving petrol heads in Europe and America – once Indian and Chinese consumers can afford it the pressure on the ecosystem will become intolerable.

Third World and Climate Change

The Third World is to suffer the most from the catastrophic effects of climate change

In the science fiction movie The Matrix, one of the guards of the computer system that has enslaved the human race offers his opinion of us as a species. He argues that we in fact aren’t a species, but a virus. I think this is one of the more interesting parts of the film. Whereas other species have found a way to live in harmony with their natural environment – not taking too much but enough to survive – humans are fundamentally different. This is all because of our lovely big brains. It’s why we tend to have an urge to explore unknown places, an urge to better social causes that will benefit the whole of society rather than just us and those around us.

Back to the point. I think it could prove beneficial to take a step back and evaluate what we are doing to our planet from a very different viewpoint. Maybe if we were able to fly into outer space and see another race we could see things from another perspective – the future! Maybe it would be helpful for purposes of illustration if we landed on a planet and found evidence of a civilisation that had choked itself to death on fossil fuel fumes. At least maybe we would be forced to partially withdraw our heads from the sand.


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