Insight, foresight, moresight…

Paul Raven @ 11-03-2011

… the clock on the wall reads a quarter past midnight.

The world won’t wait for us to sort our civilisational shit out; even if you don’t believe that we’ve made the planet a less safe place for ourselves through our own actions, today’s events are a reminder that we have always lived on the sufferance of circumstance, and that bad things aren’t reserved for bad people, or even simply people we don’t care about.

The Earth is a sphere, folks. There’s only so far you can run, or so far you push everyone else away. One tiny lifeboat in an infinite ocean. Meanwhile, there’s a million and one ways we could be wiped out of existence with little or no warning, by nothing more than the blind unknowing caprice of a random universe. In the face of that risk, what are we doing? We’re working out ways of making ever greater profits out of those less fortunate than ourselves, arguing over who spilled the petrol rather than mopping it up, fiddling while the kids run around in the haylofts of Rome playing with matches.

Some days I really feel like we deserve to go extinct. Evolution should select pretty strongly against civilisational myopia, if I understand it correctly.

But look again and see all the amazing things we’ve achieved, in a span of time so tiny by comparison to the lifespan of our own solar system (let alone the universe) that it’s almost unmeasurable. Look at all the risks we’ve already invented our way past, all the demons we’ve already conquered. There’s very few threats facing us that we couldn’t defeat easily with a bit of collective will and determination, and the few that aren’t amenable to that sort of fixing can be significantly reduced by getting our act together sufficiently that we’re no longer dependent on the fragile life-support cradle that nurtured us this far.

Make no mistake: the greatest solvable extant threat to a human future is humanity itself. Divided we stand, united we fall.

It doesn’t have to be like this, it really doesn’t. Perhaps that makes me a foolish optimist, an idealistic dreamer, a naive child scared of the “grown up” world. Well, so be it. It’s either that or give up entirely… and as tempting as that is on an almost daily basis, I’m not ready to quit just yet.