Cosmic Hubris 

Big blue marble, image source, NASA, via Wikipedia Commons.

There’s a hedge that believers frequently cite when discussing the existence of a supreme being. It’s better to believe in God regardless of whether or not God exists, because the consequences of believing in a God that doesn’t exist are less than for not believing in a God that does. The same argument can be used for climate change. If the alarmists are wrong, all that will happen is that we’ll spend money needlessly and perhaps improve the environment somewhat. If they’re right, and nothing is done about it, life as we know it on this planet could cease to exist, possibly within our lifetimes. We have nothing to lose in planning against the worst case scenario, and everything to lose if we fail to act.

If all this sounds frightening, good. Maybe we need to be frightened.

To believe the human race was created according to a divine plan and given the wisdom to hold dominion over the Earth is to perpetuate the arrogance of our species. It’s hubris on a cosmic level and will only lead to our downfall. We developed on Earth just like every other creature and our destiny is tied to the fate of Earth. I do not believe our existence is due to some divine plan, rather, I believe we came about because of the natural cycle of evolution on our planet and therefore must work to insure conditions on this planet remain hospitable to sustain not just our lives, but the lives of every remaining creature we’ve not yet driven to extinction.

If we were created by some sort of extraterrestrial being, perhaps a god or some group of aliens, why are we exclusively suited to live on this planet and must recreate the conditions necessary for life on Earth when we leave it? It is currently impossible for humans to live anywhere else in our own solar system let alone the remaining universe. The various missions in space are focused on learning how space travel affects a human body so we can take steps to mitigate these effects. While we have had individuals visit the moon, and we are currently planning for a potential trip to Mars, no one with any knowledge of space travel realistically believes any planet in our solar system can be permanently colonized given our current level of technology. The ability to terraform a planet to make it hospitable for our type of life is still the stuff of science fiction.

We barely understand how the planet we inhabit functions, and there are large portions of the Earth no human being has ever been able to explore. We can chart the paths of storms, record earthquakes, floods, or other extreme weather conditions, but cannot explain why a specific terrestrial event occurred, or why lives were lost, beyond attributing them to some vaguely understood “will of God”. Given how little we know about our planet, how can we hope to conquer some distant world we already know does not have the same atmosphere, flora and fauna as ours.

The answers will not come from our current crop of politicians. Our “leaders” would rather pad their pockets with corporate dollars than acknowledge the climate crisis facing the world. As their shortsighted policies hasten the dangers facing us, they revel in their ignorance, crowing about how they’ve defeated the forces of reason. If the potential destruction they might cause is not enough incentive for most to want to vote them out of office, we should at least be certain to record their names, so any future generations affected by our lack of foresight will know specifically who to thank for their destruction besides us.

In their song, The Last Resort, The Eagles sing, “There is no more new frontier. We have got to make it here.” Space certainly holds much promise for one day helping us to overcome the problems inherent in an ever increasing human population, but any relief it may offer is many generations in the future, and we face very serious problems now which can render any future plans moot. If we drive ourselves to extinction, it won’t matter whether the atmosphere on Mars is capable of sustaining life, because we won’t be around to take advantage of it.

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