“As humanity’s greatest achievements in the form of the Voyager one and two spacecraft reach the outskirts of our solar system, whose primitive cameras were realigned to take a photograph of a small blue dot called Earth.”
Very few of the 7 billion people living in that small blue dot, set within the vastness of space, will ever see that poignant image, but the spacecraft launched 35 years ago will be a time capsule of the human experience, and will probably wander lonely and eternally undiscovered for billions of years.
Our planet can also describe as a time capsule, which has wandered around our galaxy, for the most part, shielding its precious cargo of complicated life from the hostile ravages of space and time.
Even within the constraints of our temperate and beautiful bubble, the fight for survival is the most primitive of instincts for all life forms, that’s why it’s puzzling that our species continues to go against this fundamental life-sustaining principle?
This situation is puzzling to me because we are the only species with a brain large enough to foresee future events, plan and organise far into the future timeline. We know the cause and effects of our actions, but can see the damage caused by unabated economic growth on a limited planet?
Our only habitable world is dying. The planetary systems and rich diversity of life, which enabled our evolution are being stripped away year-to-year.
Killing me softly
Our predecessors once thought that the elements were against us and appeasement of gods was necessary to survive, but unbeknown to those people, those features were the driving force of our survival and success.
Generations come and go from the protective blanket that is our atmosphere. Each generation ensures the survival of the next through improvements in the three fundamental principles of medicine, housing and food supply. That has been the original recipe for our overwhelming success.
I use the term overwhelming because that small blue dot which Voyager photographed from the outer reaches of the solar system is now submerged and under attack by the very species it had protected and nurtured for millennia.
Previous generations in your family will remember a time when modern housing estates were green fields, and hedgerows, birds and wildlife were as numerous as they were colourful with the ocean fish plentiful and delicious.
Their forefathers before them will remember a time when those same fields were meadows or woods; larger mammals would have been commonplace. The diversity and abundance of life around them would have been typical of them and would now look at our remaining countryside and see a sterile, lifeless place with nothing but our food to see.
Likewise, a Facebook-connected young person, viewing a 1800s farmstead, would probably think they were in the garden of Eden. The same occurs when you make the same comparison with people thousands not hundreds of years between them.
And there lies the problem. Each generation fails to see the impact it has had on the world around it.
The gradual and subtle changing of our environment to suit only our own needs has been slowly strangling our planets of its life-giving properties. The next generation of humans will see the collapse of marine ecosystems, the last of the vast forests and the burning of every drop of oil we can extract from the ground.