As far as can be determined, our physical Universe is approximately 13.5 billion years old, and the planet Earth has been around for somewhere about 4.5 billion years. Both figures are a long time – long enough that from a human perspective they make no real practical sense, being too abstract and too hypothetical to be fully conceived of, in any form other than the purely mathematical.
By contrast, the human species has only existed for a mere 200,000 years or so, with ‘modern man’ coming into existence about 50,000 years ago. So, Mankind is a very new species of life here on Earth, and from the looks of it we are going to be a very short-lived one as well.
Man is, in all likelihood, fated to become what is known as an ‘interim species’.
And while that is perhaps better than becoming one of the untold millions of species that have ended up as complete dead-ends since Life first began on Earth, it is still not a very good thing to have happen to a species.(If you have doubts on that score, go ask the Dodo bird – which humans hunted to extinction in the late 1600’s – and which we will ultimately be just as dead as…)
Interim species are those that act as bridges to the future, with some part of their genetic makeup being passed on to a different – and hopefully more long-lived – species farther down the line.
Dead-end species exist for a set period of time, and then completely die out without contributing to the development of any future species. In evolutionary terms, they are considered to be complete failures, having been unable to survive in the weeding process of natural selection.
Which is not to say that dead-end species have no larger purpose, as all species contribute to the ecosystem they inhabit, and thereby make it possible for overall life to continue… which is something that Mankind has not fully come to comprehend, and that is now leading to our imminent demise.
Such ignorance will be one of the leading traits to our eventual downfall, with intrinsic stupidity as a close second.
“STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES”
Those words were part of the heritage that a fictional Forest Gump’s mother passed on to her slow-witted fictional son, but they will serve as well as anything as an epitaph for the entire real-life human species.
Shortly after the last ice age, about 12,000 years ago, homo sapiens sapiens exploded onto this planet and soon rose to the top of the food chain. After handily knocking off mastodons, dire wolves and saber-tooth tigers, we have continued to decimate not only all other competing predators, but the vast majority of other species inhabiting the earth as well.
All primates are group scavengers, and human beings are no different.
We work together to obtain food and other materials, and we do that better than any other species ever did before we came along. If that were the worst effect we brought about upon this planet, it would be bad enough, but it is not – we strip the earth of minerals through mining, decimate whole forests through clear-cutting, fires and “urban renewal”, and befoul the lands and waters around us with unrestrained toxic chemicals.
By some estimates, the rate of plant & animal extinction now taking place is a thousand times higher than it would be if people didn’t exist, with somewhere around 1,000 species going extinct per million people per year. And with the current population of humans exceeding 7.1 billion – and still rising – things do not bode well for the continuing biodiversity needed on earth to sustain the existing global ecosystem.
As many as 30 – 50% of all present species could be extinct by the middle of this century. That equates to 30% of all invertebrates, 30% of all amphibians, 21% of all reptiles, 31% of all birds, 21% of all fish, 50% of all primates, 20% of all mammals, and 68% of all plant life being wiped-out of existence by the year 2050.
While most animals readily teach their offspring not to shit in their own nests, human beings are too stupid to recognize the importance of a clean & healthy surrounding environment.
As a species, we have evolved beyond the point of having enough common sense to teach our children how to properly survive in the real world… for only an interim species could be stupid enough to leave its offspring alone in hot automobiles, with all the windows rolled up in the middle of summer. That sort of behavior indicates a species with a built-in death wish, not one with a strong will to keep on living.
And so, we continue to teach our children to treat Earth as an endless inexhaustible storehouse of consumer goods, ripe for the taking and meant to be plundered … and we continue to let the world’s industries and corporations ransack and rape the planet for private benefit and wealth… and we continue to let individual governments loot and waste all that is beneficial & good from humanity’s common inheritance… and we continue to tolerate world leaders and politicians who threaten global extinction through nuclear Armageddon … and those sorts of suicidal behaviors will most certainly bring about the death of us, for once and for all.
For mankind is not meant to be the ‘Crown of Creation’, after all… but only another in the long line of interim species that rise and fall, rise and fall – and arise again but to fall again, over and over, endlessly
for as long as this Earth may abide…