Life on Earth

Life on Earth is a beautiful, strange and quixotic thing.

We exist as a constant cycle of matter and energy: carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, and so on mixed and stirred by the power of the sun, the fire in volcanoes and plate tectonics, the currents of the ocean.

It is thought that Earth has 8.7 million species — of which exist trillions and trillions of individual creatures. There might be 7 billion people, but there are more bacteria in the soil of a garden. And we were all once these things — bacteria, algae, birds, fish, beasts. Our bodies are vessels made from what we eat, and eventually returned into the Earth when we die.

We have been living lives like this for billions of years, ever since the formation of our planet. The elements in our bodies were once cooked up in the hearts of stars, and then were blasted in supernovae across the universe. We were lucky; we washed up on the shores of Earth, a planet that has sustained life. Not all organic matter on Earth is alive; much of it is locked up in hydrocarbon stores beneath the Earth — dead, unthinking, unfeeling. Yet what about matter on Mars or in an asteroid? It sits; dull and dead, waiting for an opportunity, waiting for a spark.

Recent estimates suggest our galaxy might contain a billion planets. Who knows how many incubate life? Given the multitude of beautiful and strange lifeforms on our planet, the lifeforms of other worlds would likely take a wild variety of forms. Many forms of life on Earth appear alien to us humans:

We Earthlings know what life is. We know a good deal of how it works. We know that it feels good. And hopefully one day we will travel out into the universe, and bring the universe to life.

I started writing about economics because I didn’t want us to screw it up. I wanted us — as a modern and technological civilisation — to be as robust to the pressures of our environment as any other creature on the planet.

I don’t know if humans will be the species to leave this planet and travel out into the galaxy. But watching the incessant cycle of life, death and rebirth that nature and our Sun ensure makes me certain that even if our human sphere of technology, communication, ideas, commerce and industry were to go up in a puff of smoke tomorrow, life would continue some way, somehow.

In this little era, at the start of the 21st Century we are in a mixed place. While — for the first time in known history — we have a web of communication spanning the globe, while we have global languages, medical imaging, longer lifespans, international travel, towering skyscrapers, huge energy grids, and huge commercial markets, we are also highly fragile. As an interconnected and mobile species we are fragile to pandemics and illnesses. As a globalised species, dependent on energy and resources from many sources around the globe, we are fragile to wars, terrorism, energy crises, and black swans like Fukushima. As a highly efficient species that has created huge wealth in the past 100 years, we are fragile to unemployment. Worst of all, as a highly clever species we are fragile to our own hubris, and our own delusions that we know it all.

So if we screw up it all up, it doesn’t really matter. Earth is bigger, bolder and stronger than we are. Earth will take the remnants of our civilisation and transform them via the process of decay into something new. New creatures and ecosystems will emerge. The matter in our bodies will all be reused; as frogs, as fish, as trees, as birds, as bacteria, and as whatever might evolve next. We will live those lives, never knowing we were once humans. Humanity is but a fragile speck of golden dust hanging upon the crest of a wave. We are bigger than humanity.

33 thoughts on “Life on Earth

  1. Aziz you think like me!

    Life is like a batton relay. We pass on the code to the next generation. Bacteria to humans we all carry the code. If the sun fizzes out and we escape to another planet, carrying the code (An ark) we have achieved our purpose.

    Likewise if an asteroid hits our planet and dust floats through space, and bacteria or funghi seeds the next generation, it too has achieved its purpose.

    All life is precious. The meaning of life is not selfish happiness but fundamental to all is this DNA code. Pass it on!

    • You were my first ever subscriber Buddy! It’s almost been half a year. I never stuck at doing anything like this before. I am a flake, a dilettante. I am not the kind of guy who writes blogs. I am the kind of guy who scribbles my private thoughts on the back of a notepad in cafeterias while drinking espresso.

      Oh well.

      Ideas are mostly better shared than they are kept. After all, that’s what language is for.

      • Mate, I read a lot of things, and I have really enjoyed the thoughs and readers comments.

        I have RSI in my left wrist, so writing is painful, but when you are self employed and work from home, you have time to “Hang Out” with the “Neo Illuminati 2.0”

        If you ever do anything get these published in a hard cover, leather bound. Your children and their children will thank you.

        You could just do it yourself, or you could print a few paperbacks and pass around ramdomly.

  2. Little for me to disagree with in your musing. In addition to the creation of huge wealth in the last century, we have also created immense amounts of new knowledge, the key to the long-term survival of humanity. These two things operate in tandem: robust economic growth opens the door for robustness in creation of new knowledge and innovation.

    If we posit two forms of culture or society, static or dynamic, which do you think best fits the image of fragility to hubris and delusions of knowing it all. This is where I get very disconcerted by all the efforts of environmentalists who seem to think that we are incapable of developing solutions to the new problems created through exploitation of earth’s resources. If we drastically curtail our capacity for robustness in knowledge creation going forward, and this is almost entirely dependent on robust economic growth, then we reach the same terminal point as we do if fail to provide solutions to problems created by robust living.

    • @Thomas: True, while all the current scientific methods of exploring the world point to a rather materialistic view of the world, they can never answer the ultimate question: why is it all here? Why is there something instead of nothing? Stephen Hawking recently published some book in which he tried to explain away God (I’m noncommittal on this issue) by saying that everything results from gravity – but this is merely obfuscating the original question. One can now ask: why is there gravity instead of nothing (that is, if his theories are indeed correct – he has been known to change his mind quite often).

    • There’s nothing in my belief system that’s directly contradictory to ideas like spirit and God. None. I am more interested in the material world, but something must surely have initiated the universe.

      • I feel this statement makes the implicit assumption that these can be separated. That is: an initial (possibly spiritually-explainable) spark that triggered everything, after which there are only deterministic matter interactions. I’m not saying necessarily there should be a connection between what was behind the initial spark and what’s unfolding now, right here, under our eyes (and certainly there’s no scientific proof for this idea), but from an epistemologic point of view, the possibility for such a connection to exist should not be discounted.

        • Whatever caused this universe is not part of our universe. We know that because there is some pretty strong evidence that the universe had a start point, some 14.5 bya. That is the strongest empirical evidence we have got for the non-material (i.e. stuff that exists outside of our universe), once we accept that assumption it opens up a plethora of possibilities.

        • PS: Thought some more about this issue, and even if the initial spark triggered an entirely deterministic world (as in the balls on a billiard table), the world cannot be disentangled from the initial spark, because that initial spark had contained within it the entire unfolding of the (deterministic) universe. So to preserve a spiritual explanation for the deterministic world, one could say that we’re merely witnessing the unfolding of a “spiritual battle” that could have been very real on that “spiritual level” that predated the unfolding of the universe as we see it. That is, if the world is indeed deterministic as described above. Now I should probably go to sleep.

        • The Greek Philosophers must have been tormented!

          It can be quite possible that our life is separate to any spiritual conection, however if we “tune in” (Prayer, meditation) we may get the attention of the creator.

          Therefore the connection between the pre spark and the post spark is possibly existent.

          Where is Spiritwomen, I like to hear her thoughts on this matter!

        • Hi Buddy, my friend… you already KNOW how I think and believe, I told you ‘the story’ and it is all coming true…. but I also want to address the problem…RSI…. do you want my help with that?? I’m surprised you didn’t tell me about that pesky issue before… shame, shame on you…Yes.. I am here… I read the posts, but the time for discussing what lies ahead is moot… the ‘ahead’ is at hand, and each of us are responsible for the things of the heart. There is only ONE GOD, and He is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent… too bad the human brain has degenerated to the point of not being able to comprehend such a HUGE and loving Creator. Not many more minutes and everyone will believe… let me know, my friend about your wrist.. let me work a miracle for you… you deserve one about now..:}:}

          Did you hear about the explosion and sinking of the super nuke U.S. Carrier with a couple thousand men on board? They are deleting the link but I found one before they do….

          Reminds me of the Great God ….my best friend… He doesn’t give a fig what humans ‘think’… most often they don’t… He will do, as He did, to this tanker.. He doesn’t need nukes…. just the blink of His eye will do… Psalm 104: He looks at the mountain, and it smokes… He touches the earth and it trembles. My GOD… what a HUNK!!

        • Even more comments (hopefully not gibberish at this late hour) on the above:

          Some militant atheists sensing what I’m referring to above, cherry-picked (from physics) the theory of multiple universes. Whether the theory is correct or not, doesn’t matter. But what they were trying to say, was something like: “Oh well, look: there are many more universes where life doesn’t exist and are much more boring than ours; so nothing special about our universe!”. But this is merely a sleight of hand, because it doesn’t add more info to what we already knew. It’s like saying: 99.99% (work with me) of the universe is boring because it doesn’t have life, or 99.99% of Sahara is boring. And it also doesn’t answer that important question that Stephen Hawking thought he answered.

        • Describing external universes based on mathematical models, and then jumping to the conclusion that the abstract mathematics shows these universes are “boring” (a totally subjective label) seem rather stupid. We don’t know anything much about things outside our universe, no matter how many mathematical models we might construct to model what these things might look like. The only thing we know is that at one point our universe did not exist, and so something outside our universe must have caused it.

        • So you are saying this could be the result of some experiment.

          Metaphorically speaking: Daily in high school labs, universes could be created as we speak.

          Like looking into a mirror with a mirror.

          My mind hurts!

        • Rarely if ever will anyone abandon something they started that blossomed into something amazingly beautiful. I doubt God is any different.

        • If so he is a derelict and an absentee landlord, considering all the suffering in the world. I refuse to believe the author of such beauty possess such dull qualities.

          “Beauty will save the world.” -Dostoyevsky

        • Dostoyevsky is the author of earth then.. you’ve missed the whole point.. you are hopeless.. and if I were you, I would be afraid for calling HIM derelict …as far as being absentee… HE knows all the evil satan is committing on HIS planet and HE will be the Judge …. NOT YOU.

        • The only problem is, this earth belongs to satan…. for the pre-determined time that God has set. God has created many solar systems/planets that are pure and undefiled by evilness. A suggestion for future statements, thomas, if you dare, asked HIM what He plans to do. He will be happy to tell you.. and if you don’t dare, you will remain ignorant of Him and His ways. I am NOT afraid to KNOW Him, and He tells me everything.

        • If we propose that Humans were created by God (Alien Races) and were given a set of instructions to abide by, then it is plausable that God (Aliens) could cherry pick the righteous and “Relocate” them to a better world/heaven.

          Hmm Now I need to study my religious texts. Which religion is right?

        • As you well know, ‘religions’ are the opiate of the masses’… you won’t need to ‘study’ anything, Bud…. you don’t belong to HIM… you have no idea what He has planned for the mockers and scorners of this earth…but I promise… you WON’T like it.. wait and see… it won’t be very much longer.

  3. There is a God and creator, but we mere humans are just tools. We have no greater right to life than bacteria.

    If you look at all myths and creation stories, there

    1. Was a flood
    2. “Angels” came from the sky
    3. We were created.

    DNA-Gene splicing is our invention, so God has PhD and we are merely entering Kindergarten.

      • Don’t know Zecharia’s work, thanks for the link. I have a friend in Genetics, and I don’t know if true, but he said people have spliced monkey and human genes for a laugh, and the genes start to divide and the kill the experiment. Not sure if it is true, but thought provoking.

  4. Most of the commentators have already said what I wanted to say. For the record all matter and energy is not dead, it is alive and pulsing with life. After death we do not go to non existence, our bodies decay but our Soul lives on in a different dimension. The same dimension in which we enter when we dream. And depending on how we have behaved in this life you will either wake in a hell or a heaven.

    • Agreed. My undestanding of Hell or Heaven is the same. LSD trippers have described this in research. Time stretches for an eternity.

  5. P.S.

    Last post on this, but when the worlds population embraces these concepts, then we would be open to “visitations” from Angels.

    Right now, any visitations would cause panic.

    The 50’s would have been an intersting time to watch Alien cinema. Real horror stories🙂

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