Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dire Prediction

Steven Hawking, the astrophysicist who keeps going despite extremely debilitating Lou Gehrig's disease said in an recent interview:

"Our population and our use of the finite resources of planet Earth are growing exponentially, along with our technical ability to change the environment for good or ill. But our genetic code still carries the selfish and aggressive instincts that were of survival advantage in the past. It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand or million."

We could say it metaphorically -- we outgrown the nest that we have fouled terribly. We apparently have no ability to find a way to live sustainably on this planet. He says the only hope for humanity, qua humanity, not individuals specifically, is to colonize another planet. That, of course, leaves the vast, vast majority of humanity on this planet facing, the implication is, extinction in what would be a short ecological time ahead.

It's interesting that he cites our aggressive and selfish genes. Indeed, those are the traits that are causing destruction and wars instead of cooperation and effecient working together to steward the earth's resources and to limit population growth so that this Earth can sustain life.

As we go into the annual consuming frenzy in the US that occurs over the holidays, we enact that selfishness and thoughtlessness that leads to depletion of resources. And we are egged on to do so, of course, by those who stand to reap short term gains at the expense of the future. Hawking is a man with both great intelligence and a personal reason [his almost inconceivably difficult physical condition] to be pessimistic. Often pessimists and depressives are the ones who see most clearly the state of affairs.

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