Tuesday, November 24, 2009

If, for argument’s sake, these prophesies are wrong, are we wrong to brood about the world’s end?

Quite the contrary. As we have just observed, Planet Earth lives in a shooting gallery, its interior is a species-killing bomb waiting to detonate and humanity itself is capable of species-wide annihilation, including self-annihilation. We have enough nuclear weapons to destroy ourselves many times over, and the genetically-engineered plague viruses could also end civilization as we know it. We can never spend too much time planning for catastrophe-prevention and consequence-management.

Robert Heinlein said that “earth is too small and fragile a basket for humanity to put all its eggs in.” Many scientists have argued that for humanity to survive the next millennium, we must spread our species into space—onto other planets.

If nothing else, the Mayan prophesy of 2012 should be viewed as a profoundly important wake-up call, the ultimate cautionary tale.


  1. Bob, I know you were a friend of Robert Heinlein's and his comment about all the eggs in one basket is right on today because of an article about NASA wanting to send a mission to near earth asteriods NEAs, to explore them, use them as jumping off points, and to figure out how to deal with ones that can strike earth with a lethal blow. But it's still all just talk, no money, no real program, just an idea that won't be made a reality, at least not for a decade or more even if it ever gets off the ground -- if you'll excuse the pun.

  2. It is really scary when you think about it. We are spaceship Earth, soaring through space, and just as the few spacecrafts we sent up are already dodging manmade debris, there is a whole solar system, a whole galaxy even, of threats—and we are a sitting duck.

  3. The issue about survival of Earth is the same as it is for each of us and every other life form on the planet: we are all going to die, when is the question. The planet has been hit many times with wide-spread annihilations of life, it is inevitable that it will happen again – and again, until some day the planet itself is a bare rock tumbling in space. What’s really strange is that while none of us would cross a street without eyes wide open, we close our eyes to the dangers our world faces. I think we do it because individually we are helpless to do anything about the dangers and we have leaders who are too narrow sighted to do the things they should do. Which leaves us flying through a shooting gallery with eyes wide shut.

  4. When you start adding up all of the threats, it takes more than fingers and toes, it takes a computer. The question is not what will affect us on 2012, but how many threats could hit us at the same time. Heinlein is right, we have all our eggs in one basket and something is liable to make an omelet out of them. I hope it won’t take a major disaster to have our political leaders wake up – our scientists, too, because like Paul Revere, they should be shouting the warning.