PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
pieterpompies
 
Comments: 80
Article views: 631
 
 
Latest Badges:


 
View all pieterpompies's badges.
 

Quo Vadis Homo sapiens

06 February 2013, 09:01

It is 2013 and we’ve come such a long way since our cave-dwelling days. Of the big apes, we are without doubt the most intelligent of the lot (not always the most sensible though). Of the genus Homo, us sapiens are the only surviving species. Where are we heading?

Modern science certainly has made progress in leaps and bounds (perhaps exponentially so) in the last century.

Major advances in medicine as well as engineering (better sanitation for one) have increased our life expectancy as well as our quality of life. Interestingly enough, the comparatively short life expectancies of a century or two ago are skewed by the disproportionately high infant and childhood mortality rates of those days. If you survived those hazardous early years, you could actually reach quite a respectable old age.

I want to focus on a conundrum that we are faced with: Due to science we are living longer, but at the same time this helps fuel the world’s ever increasing population. Our current population is now over 7 billion and counting…

In a laboratory, a bacterium can be cultured on a Petri dish and it will keep on multiplying until either its food-source (agar) runs out, or an appropriate antibiotic kills it. Not to compare us with bacteria (socially speaking), but there is some degree of an analogous truth to be found here. Earth can be objectively seen as a massive Petri dish for living fauna and flora. In the wild, species size is limited mainly by the availability of food and water. We are uniquely different in that we can control to some extent various factors: Family planning, manipulation and more efficient use of foodstuffs, prevention and treatment of diseases associated with overpopulation, forecasting and protection from natural disasters etc. Despite this “buffer”, there is little doubt that overpopulation will pose a major challenge for our well being as a species in the not too distant future.

Should we survive ourselves (nuclear wars and global warming) as well as major catastrophes such as massive asteroids, the only practical (and humane) solution would be to look for other earth-like planets to settle on. Many visionaries, notably the late Carl Sagan, have realized this fact long ago. With current technology, finding earth-like planets, let alone settling there, is still in its infancy. A more realistic alternative is terraforming of nearby planets or their moons. Mars seems to be the most likely candidate being a rocky planet and not too close to the sun. Other options are some of the moons of the outer gassy planets. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terraforming 

Perhaps we have already missed the boat, so to speak. Consider all the resources being poured into warfare worldwide. Think of all the money spent to increase our comfort of living. Now contrast these two examples with the decreased funding for space exploration in the USA and elsewhere.

In the sixties we were on a “space high” with the moon missions, but since then our desire and motivation to explore further have waned. On the scale of our solar system (let alone our galaxy), we have barely dipped our human toes into the ocean so to speak. We play happily on our iGadgets and other high tech toys, but we have not managed to put a human foot on another planet yet...

Is it not imperative that we as humans broaden our narrow vision and start appreciating the bigger picture with respect to our ultimate long-term survival? We are perhaps too concerned with the economy, political and social issues. Of course they are very important issues, but they are only temporal and are relatively minor concerns with respect to the bigger picture (of us).

It is ironic that earth, which we think we are the masters of, is totally oblivious to our survival. It has witnessed many a species come and go. It has certainly been through a lot of turmoil over the past 4.5 billion years and will robustly carry on for another 4 to 5 billion years until our sun expires.

Looking at our pale blue dot from a distance out in space, nothing will be noticed should we disappear, whether quickly as in a nuclear holocaust, or slowly via climatic changes.

How we should deal with our population growth is a separate (very contentious) topic and, in my opinion, might only delay the inevitable fact that earth will not be able to contain and sustain us indefinitely. The fact that we are getting so much better at manipulating our short-term survival, will paradoxically only help us to reach that perilous point faster. Unless we want "nature to take its course" with us, we need to wake up from our slumber. It is our predicament and only we can be the solution. To quote Carl Sagan, "there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere".

Most of us will not be bearing the brunt of this future dilemma, but surely our children and their children will have to shoulder it. Perhaps, in a very small way, we can all help by getting children exited about science and at least make them aware of the urgent need for further space exploration.

It is estimated that since life emerged, over 98% of (documented) species that ever crawled, flown, slithered, swam or walked this earth, are now extinct. We are unique as a species in that we are able to realize and contemplate this sobering fact. We are also able to identify factors endangering our survival. Why is it that we are not more pro-active about this very real future emergency?

I am immensely proud to be a human and of all our achievements. Will Homo sapiens end up being a very brief entry in the chronicles of earth and this universe?

It would be an immense tragedy (from our point of view)…

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.
 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
80 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Narian Chengiah Naidoo
A Civilized Society

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. said, "Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society." Those words carry value and meaning only if "civilized" is understood as being good, happy and beneficial to all citizens. Read more...

1 comments 84 views
Submitted by
Rodney Bevan
SA under Zuma

Jacob Zuma, along with a handful of cronies has single handedly almost destroyed the country, its people and its economy. Read more...

23 comments 1324 views
Submitted by
The Fox 5366
Illegal Miners: Voiceless Prostit...

There's been a lot said about legalising prostitution so that prostitutes can be protected, receive healthcare and not be victimised. Read more...

9 comments 322 views
Submitted by
siphokuhle dludla
The real South Africa today

Truth be told, South Africa is a country with palpable inequalities, which is a fact, it is a country where poverty continues to lacerate a huge number of our population particularly black people. Read more...

13 comments 623 views
Submitted by
Greypatriot
The ANC constitution does not off...

The official ANC constitution does not forbid or punish corruption. The term corruption is not listed or defined as a key term in the latest version of the official constitution of the ANC. Read more...

4 comments 351 views
Submitted by
LeboDang Macman
Why using race as a proxy doesnt ...

I am not an academic nor do I profess to be, so everything I write will be based purely on experience. Read more...

11 comments 514 views

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on your iPhone Get News24 headlines on your iPhone.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

Calais Website keywords automated by OpenCalais.

 
Digital Media & Marketing Association
 
© 2014 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.