If you have ever read about our ancestors, you were probably taught that, at the end of the last Ice Age, the citizens of North America hunted the many species of megafauna (giant mammals) to extinction. After all, why not assume terrible humans are responsible for all that death?
As it turns out, evidence has been growing of a planet-altering catastrophe as the cause. Most likely an impact event centered over North America (which endured most of the extinctions), with indications of impact craters littered across the East Coast.
Why is this so fascinating? Because it reminded me of the tendency of some people to immediately blame humans for every terrible event to befall the planet. These are the same people, with their dour and glum outlook, whom have been predicting for decades, that we only have a decade or two before we destroy the planet, run out of energy, and starve to death.
Then the decades pass, and the apocalyptic scenarios do not.
This is because, in spite of the chaos and strife that always has been part of the human existence, the majority want to improve their life — and value life. They use the power imbued in the human mind to solve problems and move forward. A mind that learns from mistakes and problems, rather that writing off humanity and living in a state of chronic gloom. There are obstacles; we overcome them. There are doomsayers; we ignore them.
Here’s a truth: The only reason that even one person on the planet doesn’t have food isn’t because we cannot produce enough — we produce more than we can use and waste criminal amounts of it — it’s nearly always because government gets in the way. Third World countries steal the food; First World countries waste it, or pay farmers not to grow it.
While corrupt governments and individuals will always slow progress, and put forth roadblocks we must conquer, we must not let them appear to confirm the haters of humanity among us. They have also claimed that we are causing a Sixth Extinction of species on our world. Yes, there are people and countries which care little about conservation, but from a scientific perspective, the numbers are so contradictory and spurious (and more complex), that blaming humans at large for the impeding destruction of the biosphere is more than a bit unwarranted. In one of the great ironies of our time, the believers in the “power” of natural selection are also those who are in anguish of the results of that power. Though, it would seem, such power has been seriously overestimated.
Indeed, it is not science that these folks marshal, but their own philosophical beliefs. If they follow the logic of their beliefs, why worry? Why all the dark predictions? If one believes that all is reducible to chance, then let things be.
The truth is that they, like everyone else, whether they admit to it or not, something isn’t quite right with those beliefs. They don’t square well with reality. I’ve seen celebrity intellectuals spill many words on science and thought, but stumble on giving reasons on why we exist, why we should act “good” (or whatever that means), or why we should be civilized.
They choose to switch back and forth between awe of the wonders of the universe, and whether or not to call it quits on mankind. The rest of us, however, won’t give up on humanity, because we embrace the indisputable fact that the human mind is proof that we weren’t meant for a sad, depressing end, and as the only sentient beings known to exist, we can overcome those among us who seek to destroy their own race.