It is human nature to desire to pass on to posterity what we have learned or accomplished in our brief stay here. But now the certainty that there will be a posterity is crumbling.
And what about the enduring belief that, even after all those molecules that made up our consciousness are diffused into other organisms, something will be retained of us who served in what we knew as “The Now”.
How can we allow to be wasted the 3.5 billion years it took to make us what we are? Sadly, at this stage of our incredible and treasured evolution in an uniquely beautiful planet, we just do not know whether we are a hologram or individuals trapped inside a bony skull dependent on a body composed of trillions of cells and even more non-human organisms needed to support us. Are we part of a cosmic intelligence? We have orifices to see, hear, smell, feel, or sense only narrow segments of what appear to be nothing but an immense variety of vibrations serving what purpose? We can brag about the instruments and robots we have created to extend our knowledge but will we ever know how much we will have to know in order to know how little we know? Is our mission to create the robots that will supersede us?
Creating a legacy worthy of passing on to future humans demands convincing current humans, who have such an impact on this lone Spaceship Earth, that each of us has a housekeeping responsibility.
Some fantasize on moving to a new planet as we are rapidly depleting this one. Is this a remote possibility? Travelling all those light years may be the easy part, but could any other planet sustain what we have become? Barren planets would require billions of years of microbial work just to build the foundation. In the millions of other planets scattered among the galaxies each one must be so unique in any life that has evolved that moving from one to another would be fatal for both locals and newcomers as immune systems would immediately engage in battle. Humans have evolved here along with what could be a hundred million other species that are also evolving. We are an interconnected, inter-dependent, and little-understood web. We are only beginning to realize how disturbing one species can affect many more including us. To survive each species uses the resources provided some renewable, many not. Husbandry is essential as the spaceship we have may be the one and only.
It is estimated that our spaceship can sustain a maximum of two billion humans. We have 8 billion. We are greedily convinced that a healthy economy demands an ever-increasing Gross Domestic Product which in turn demands rapid depletion of finite and precious resources as well as deferring today’s debts to tomorrow’s payers. As I have walked through numerous devastated and still-littered sites of exhausted and abandoned mines I feel like the Duke of Wellington amid the 1815 carnage of Waterloo when he lamented: “Nothing, save a battle lost, is so melancholy as a battle won.”
We know that our environment is fragile, requiring a narrow range of sunlight, water, gases, and solids. We know that the likes of goats, otters, beavers, jellyfish, ants, bees, and bacteria have all created changes that alter the environment and affect other life forms and, of course, climate. We also know that bacteria and humans have been the worst offenders and have been the cause of the extinction of thousands of species with ever-increasing damage to the biodiversity so essential to our continuance on this globe.
Some claim we are an intelligent species. If so, Greed has infested and immobilized those with the power to affect necessary changes. The rest of us? We too are to blame. Too few support: Contraception, Using bicycles and horses rather than combustion engines for transportation, Mass transport, Turning off unnecessary lights, Gun controls, Governments free of control by selfish interests, Empathy and reaching out to groups not their own, Too many engage in: Poaching, Converting forests to cities and industry, Abandoning family farms with rotational fallow fields for huge commercial, fertilizer-imported, monstrosities, Over-fishing, and Hunting for no purpose other than to kill, We do need to re-activate those WWII signs that were everywhere in UK train stations and carriages, “Is your journey really necessary?”
Until we learn to safely harness for energy the immense forces that pervade the universe and until we extend more empathy to all flora and fauna including fellow humans it is essential we retreat to safer life styles. Otherwise we will have no progeny to whom to bequeath our legacies.
I have had a share of aches, pains, disappointments, and frustrations, but I have also enjoyed varied, interesting, and challenging careers. I am blessed with a wonderful family and much-appreciated friends.
What a shame it would be if I was just wasting my time in composing a legacy.
Ye Olde Scribe firstname.lastname@example.org 27 January 2015