With recent events like the assassination of Iranian general Suleiman that brought the world close to the declaration of a new war, and the catastrophic wildfires in Australia or the snow in Saudi Arabia’s desert, a lot of people read this as signs that prophesize the imminent world’s end. But, how far are we to witness the world’s end?
I remember speaking with my late grandmother about the changes she witnessed during the 20th century: Mexican Revolution and Cristeros’ Persecution in México, and First and Second World War (not first hand), she always mentioned that at each conflict, every end of decade or massive change experienced in the world, there was people crossing oneself about the looming end of the world, yet somehow the world continued. “The world ends for those who die,” she used to say, and for her, the notion about the world ending in the turn of the millennium became true, dying in 1999.
Then, should we be worried about these signs?
When we study the planet Earth’s history, is nothing but chaotic, ranging from high vulcanism activity which almost wipeout all life, to ice ages and cosmic cataclysms which almost wipeout all life as well. So, for those believing the climate change is a hoax, it’s true that at the end life will thrive, but the severe changes we inflict to the environment as species are irreversibly transforming the ecosystem and speeding events like the next ice age. Human civilization prospered in this world in that tiny window of “cataclysmic peace,” in which Planet Earth entered in a period of calmness and balance, which from human perspective, this time has been so long, that we forget not always has been like this, and all of the sudden this might change for worse, either by the consequences of our acts, or just by simple cosmic randomness.
So, what is really at stake is human civilization as we know it. If we contaminate our water deposits at a rate higher than we are able to develop the technology to purify them; if we eradicate species quicker than we are able to reproduce them; if we contaminate the air we breathe before we are able to develop the technology to remove the metals and chemicals, basic human needs like feeding, breathing and hydration, will be difficult to perform with the easiness as today. Technology and human progress have indeed changed the way we live for good, reducing mortality rates, expanding life’s expectancy or simply increasing the comfort we experience in our everyday life, but even if we are unaware, there is an underlaying toll we paid or will be paid for everything we gain.
Every morning you use your Teflon-coated Tefal pan, please remember polytetrafluoroethene (Teflon) was developed by DuPont to be used for coat metal in contact of highly reactive uranium hexafluoride for Project Manhattan and was present in the atomic bombs dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In other words, without the invention of Teflon, the manufacturing of atomic bombs would be delayed for a good period of years, maybe sparing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians. But now, thanks to that technology breakthrough, you can fry your eggs for breakfast without sticking to the pan, even when in a not distant future, atomic bombs might put an end to human civilization.
That is level of irony in which we live our ordinary lives, enjoying technology to which we are unaware of the cost to humankind and the planet itself. It’s so simple now, to buy a new smart phone now and trash the two-year old one, ignoring the lengths the humanity had to go through to develop the technology and the intrinsic cost to the unbalance of our planet. We just use it, because it’s nice and comfortable. And because we are so far from experiencing the consequences, that we believe we are not directly connected to them.
The end of human civilization is not nigh, but what is certain is, that we, as species, we are engineering the means of our decline, and for future generations will be just a matter of figuring out if humankind will annihilate itself before the planet or the cosmos do it.
Maybe now it’s time for us to become humble and accept the fragility of the delicate balance which allows the existence of conscious life form on this planet, and honestly recognize that humanity as a whole has and will outlast all deities, so I would not entrust my destiny in the hands of dead Gods which could not even save themselves from oblivion.
Act, instead of praying. So, when the end of the world knocks at our doors, at the moment of our demise, we leave at peace, knowing that during our lifetime we contributed in making this world as a whole, a better place for fostering life.
M. Ch. Landa