I have heard it said that humanity is like a cancer on the earth. We just rape the earth of its natural resources and in return create pollution and waste. Eventually the earth will die and ourselves along with it. I don’t see it this way.
The way I see it, the earth is like an egg, and like the chicken embryo consumes the egg to grow into a chicken, so humanity is consuming the earth in order to grow into something greater. The earth will eventually die. In time the sun will grow old and make the earth uninhabitable. If life is to survive, it must escape the earth in order to do it. But to escape the earth we must develop technology that allows this. Developing this technology takes a lot of resources, and so the egg is consumed.
Technology is not necessarily bad. We have indoor plumbing, the Internet, and an abundance of food and clean water (at least in the developed world). Things can get better over time. When I was a young child the air quality where I lived was very poor. Often my lungs would hurt when I played outside because of the smog. But now the air quality is much better. The pace of change is rapidly increasing, and it is my belief that this change is largely for the better. I was reading the other day how improvements in magnet technology are making the promise of energy from nuclear fusion closer to reality. This is very encouraging.
And yet as the egg is consumed, there are also challenges we must face. Perhaps the greatest of which is global warming. Undoubtedly this will cause great suffering among humanity. Yet, I feel if we stop now, we are doomed. We have crossed the Rubicon already. We must push forward in order to survive. We must use our technology to help us navigate the changing environment. In this way we may just learn more about how to manage climate on a global scale. This could lead to a better understanding of terraforming other planets.
Often the greatest difficulties become the catalyst for rapid change. Maybe the crisis we will face will lead us to even greater technological innovation. I hope so. In the mean time, we need to keep our eyes on the basic necessities: clean water, safe food, adequate shelter, and a clean environment. We can use technology to improve the plight of all the inhabitants of earth while at the same time advancing our lofty goals.
In the end we must escape from the earth, from the solar system, and perhaps even from the galaxy. If not us, then those that will come after us. This is what life is all about: survival, and expansion into new environments. We may even start to evolve into multiple species as we move into space. Life will find a way. It is nature in action, and I have great faith in humanity. In the mean time, we need to keep our house clean and its occupants healthy.