Opinion / Politics / Society

The Future of the Human Race


It’s the idealist in me. I recycle. At least I try every opportunity I get.  Give me an empty bottle, and I’m looking for a recycling bin. Yes, I drive a truck (for practical reasons, I like to think). But, I walk whenever possible. I sincerely think cheap gas is not the solution. No gas is where we need to be. So I walk. Whenever possible, I take the train. I take the bus, I ride my bike, I turn off lights; I use the same thing over and over until I can’t use it anymore; I even have my own ceramic cup at work from which I drink my tea. I’m seriously thinking about having my own reusable plate and utensil.

I believe everything about conservation. In my heart, I’m as green as a tropical leave. But in my mind, I know even my best effort will fail at the end.

See, I have done the math, and I hate to say it, things don’t add up. No matter how you look at it, life as we know it is a sentence fast approaching a period. Our days here on earth are numbered. Not numbered as in now, or soon, but numbered nonetheless. It’s just a matter of when.

We can pick on CO2 all we want, but even if we cut emission to zero we are not going to save ourselves. We are simply going to make it comfortable for a little longer.  CO2 and all the other greenhouse gases are not the problems, at least not in of themselves. They are just results, as that, scapegoats of the real problem facing human civilization as we know it.

The real problem? Human beings.  It’s all in the numbers.

If science is right as I know it is—anything that can put hundreds of people in a box made entirely of metal, and take them to the skies across thousands of miles is as close to God as we know it—there are million phenomenon out there in space that could at any given moment blow us into tiny pieces.  And probability will tell you eventually one will come to be. That’s why you play the lottery. But for the sake of argument, let’s say there is something uniquely special about this blue dot in the Milky Way, no matter the laws of probability, our one in a million never hits; we never ignite any of the nuclear weapons we have stockpiled in our backyards, the oceans never over-reach their boundaries in the name of a worldwide tsunami… We are still doomed. 

Because if it ever did, the earth is done growing; the space we have is finite. Perhaps so are the resources. But we are not. The world population is growing, and so are our needs. And no matter the reduction in birth rate, we are going to continue growing—slow or fast—exponentially. It’s basic physics; no matter how slow you move, if your destination stays the same, eventually you will arrive. Regardless of the precautions we take, as long as we continue to grow we will outgrow this planet.  Even if we mandate a one-child law, as long as more children are born than the number of deaths (as it would be in the absence of mass death in the form of war or natural disasters), we are still moving…towards the end.

With every child, every family, farm land gives way for sleeping quarters. At the same time, more is needed to eat, more to wear, more to drink, more more more of everything we use. Unfortunately for us, there is only so much the earth can give, before it runs out. And it will run out.

So what is our salvation? We can put the car in reverse. But how do you preach reverse when people can’t even accept slowing down? Besides, reversing is not human. For ages we have been taught to keep plowing ahead, fast and furious. Going back is not an option!

Thinking about this lately, I have come to understand the need for NASA and the work they do. We can recycle all we want, cut down emission all we want, one day this planet is still not going to be enough. As a specie, space travel is therefore our only chance of survival.

Maybe space travel is our destination all along.

I’ve always suspected the existence of aliens. (It’s the Star Trek in me.) Actually this too is all about probability. Of all the millions (if not billions) of planets in the universe, how can this be the only one with life? Unlikely, at best.  But as I think about humans and earth, I have arrived at another possibility: We are the beginning! We are going to populate the universe.

But we better take care of this our first stepping stone, lest it’s gone before we learn to fly.


3 thoughts on “The Future of the Human Race

  1. IBé, who would have thought………..is it possible? That you are…a, a Trekkie, I am so proud. On that basis alone, I believe you are on the right side of this argument. All those Star Wars fans out there, read and learn.

    Just kidding!

    On a serious note though, I think that the lifestyle we, humans, have adopted is not sustainable and for that reason, the survivor in me strives to learn to live as conservatively as possible. First and foremost because I want to be ready to adapt when things do go sour and also because I believe that a few people can make a difference.

    IBé I grant you that you do have a valid argument when you state that the space we have is finite, however, the optimist in me refuses to believe that the world has stopped growing. I believe that the world is a living thing that has its own mechanisms that protect its survival and it is for that reason that despite all our progress and technology Mother Earth can very easily put us out.

    It is in reverence to our dear Mother that I think we should learn to live in harmony with her, because if we do indeed succeed in finding other planets to explore, we will still need a place to call home.

  2. Ibe,
    an inspirational piece as always. I, however started to see an old friend emerge as I got to the middle of your article. the everlasting disparity between science and religion. It is clear that from a scientific standpoint we are doomed one way or the other. It is a matter of ‘when”, however that’s as far as science can see right now and of course what science can see “right now” has always guided what we as humans consider “possible”, thus “impossible” is merely a word that describes what we cannot fathom based on our perceived abilities “right now”. However we cannot account for what we cannot perceive and thats what kills us and the more intelligent you are the more this kills. The fact that there are always those possibilities that we cannot perceive. NASA etc usually are able to come up with concepts that cannot be exposed to us average mortals because it will defy our understanding. But faith tells us that there is “divine” intervention on every level of human progress, or maybe even that we are guided by “a greater intelligence”, maybe aliens, but whatever it is there’s a bigger hand at play that has “bailed out ” the world before and has not shown any indication that ‘it” plans to stop now. But I do realize one thing from where I sit and what I’ve seen and heard of in my time. In the 1970s, I learnt, nurses smoked cigarettes on the units in hospitals, now you can’t smoke in a bar,,in America. But every thing starts somewhere, and America whether we like it or not influences what happens in the world a great deal. Any way man is taking steps, regardless of how slowly to “get greener” and seek alternative fuels and other sources of energy, either through our own ingenuity (if you are not a believer in the higher power bit) or through intervention from above we are getting interested and devoting more time to making our efforts on the planet less destructive. I believe we will make it somehow. I have a feeling that we are here to stay and if something was to strike planet earth, it will leave survivors, to regenerate the species. see if you think collectively instead of individually, this stops to be scary.Just nature doing some routine cleansing after so many centuries and reshaping human history by taking certain gene pools out and leaving others. See we try to see the world, problem is we are in it so we usually miss the big picture. If you were that higher intelligence watching the world today, wouldn’t you have a few changes in mind to keep it in orbit for as long as it needs to be. Any way my verdict is do what we can and that means (Ibe keep recycling, I intend to join you someday) but even if it doesn’t look like enough to save the world, know this, try as we may solutions on that level usually come from a bigger hand either by nature presenting some answers or human ingenuity (which I believe is pretty much the same thing) because I believe that just as people got visions in the past that helped them write the bible and escape bondage etc, humans today get visions that address the world’s problems, just because the vision occurred to someone in MIT or some other scientific establishment doesn’t make it science alone. If u were a higher power and you decided to give a solution to global warning, you are more likely to give the inspiration to AL Gore than say, a Joe The plumber, but that doesn’t make it any less of a vision, right?

  3. Great conversation. Some thought provoking assertsions indeed!

    Eva, I really like the idea of earth being a living thing that continues to grow (and reinvent itself to accomodate ours (and the need of all living things) up until this day. I don’t quite see it that way, but I like it. And God, I hope it’s true. Plus oh yeah, a Trekie all the way. I even liked Voyager…imagine that.

    Ntang, I don’t believe that if and when earth strikes, there will be survivors. At least not necessarily humans. Remember the dinasours? So maybe life will continue, though human specie is another story. However, in the meantime I will continue to recycle and do everything in my power to save this planet. Because if it comes to be that you are right, I would hate to wish I’d done all that I was able to do.

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