EARTHFUTURE.COM by Guy Dauncey
I have a two-part question I’m asking people these days. The first part is: “Do you think humans will be around in 500 years?”
Almost everyone stops to think. No one has an immediate answer and that alone says a lot for our state of mind. Most then say “no.”
This speaks terribly to our self-confidence as a culture, with the nay-sayers thinking like members of a losing baseball team who believe their glory days are over. How can we be expected to tackle our many challenges with this attitude? How can we be successful in restoring our Earth and making the transition to a world powered by sustainable energy? How can we succeed in protecting and restoring the beleaguered marine life in Earth’s oceans if we cannot visualize that success and hold it firmly in our minds until it is complete?
In the summer of 1940, Hitler occupied most of Europe and Britain stood alone against a sea of Nazi uniforms. All seemed hopeless. Yet if a British man or woman had been asked, “Do you think Hitler will win this war?” the answer would have been a resolute “No bleeding way!”
On a physical level, all that Churchill offered the British was “blood, toil, tears and sweat,” but he also offered something else: “Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terrors. Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival. Let that be realized. No survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge, the impulse of the ages, that mankind shall move forward toward his goal.”
Why then, today, when we face an equally massive menace, do we doubt? Why do we look forlornly into our latté grandés and accept that humans will soon be extinct?
Cynicism is a luxury we cannot afford. It is a choice to blame some other amorphous force or factor, rather than pulling our will power out the cupboard and getting to work. It is a miserable surrender to the indulgence of pretending to be powerless. It is a self-fulfilling prescription for misery, depression and failure, since we become what we dream, what we visualize for ourselves. This is equally true for ourselves and for the planet.
For those who answer “Yes,” I ask a second question: “Do you think humans will be around in a million years?” That really gets them thinking. So far, no one has replied with a straight “Yes.” Some say “No,” while others say, “Well, not in our present form.”
Let me put this into context. Our human ancestors have walked this planet for three million years. Our primate ancestors, with whom we share 98 to 99 percent of our genes, have lived in Earth’s forests for 55 million years. The fact that you are alive today is living proof that every single one of your ancestors had successful sex, right back to the first bacteria, 3.8 billion years ago. You are the amazing inhabitant of an unbroken chain of being that has lasted for a quarter of all time since the origins of our Universe. Your body, mind and soul encapsulate every advantage that the process of evolution has allowed them to gather.
Yes, it is also true that 99 percent of all species that have existed at some point in the past have become extinct, so maybe there is rational justification for biological cynicism. From my observations of life, however, I doubt that any of those myriad creatures went gently into the night. The urge to live, to breathe once more the glorious scent of day, is far too strong.
Clearly, there is risk. That was also true in 1940. But once we learn to live sustainably, cooperatively and lovingly, I see no reason why we humans should not be around in a million years, inhabiting bodies genetically identical to those we have today. As for our souls, our evolving consciousness and our spirit, that may be a whole other story.
Guy Dauncey is founder of The Solutions Project, publisher of EcoNews and president of the BC Sustainable Energy Association www.bcsea.org. Visit www.earthfuture.com