“Save the Earth” is a stupid slogan
On this Earth Day 2015, it behooves us all to redouble our efforts to promote environmentalism and combat global warming.
But let’s quit kidding ourselves that our goal is to “Save the Earth,” as the popular slogan goes. That’s not our goal. Rather, our goal is to keep this planet hospitable to us humans and to other plant and animal life. Earth doesn’t need saving. We do.
Earth was here long before humans were, and it likely will be here long after we’re gone.
There’s a passage in Michael Crichton’s novel “Jurassic Park” that says it all:
You think man can destroy the planet? What intoxicating vanity. Let me tell you about our planet. Earth is four-and-a-half-billion-years-old. There’s been life on it for nearly that long, 3.8 billion years.
Bacteria first; later the first multicellular life, then the first complex creatures in the sea, on the land. Then finally the great sweeping ages of animals, the amphibians, the dinosaurs, at last the mammals, each one enduring millions on millions of years, great dynasties of creatures rising, flourishing, dying away — all this against a background of continuous and violent upheaval.
Mountain ranges thrust up, eroded away, cometary impacts, volcano eruptions, oceans rising and falling, whole continents moving, an endless, constant, violent change, colliding, buckling to make mountains over millions of years.
Earth has survived everything in its time. It will certainly survive us. If all the nuclear weapons in the world went off at once and all the plants, all the animals died and the earth was sizzling hot for a hundred thousand years, life would survive, somewhere: under the soil, frozen in Arctic ice. Sooner or later, when the planet was no longer inhospitable, life would spread again. The evolutionary process would begin again. It might take a few billion years for life to regain its present variety.
Of course, it would be very different from what it is now, but the earth would survive our folly, only we would not.