I just started an online course about astrobiology and it made me think again about two things: the universe is amazing, it is unimaginably huge and we know so little, I mean, the chance to exist is – depending on conviction – so few and our lifetime that short, that it might bring up the question, why us? How did we deserve to exist and to experience this wonder? Which brings me to my second point: our planet is a miracle, why don’t we treat it like one?
Well, at the moment we don’t have any evidence for extraterrestrial life, that’s why many of us think we might be alone in the universe. Personally, I believe or better hope, that there are aliens somewhere in this infinity. Wouldn’t it be quite egocentric and a bit lonely to assume that we are the only living beings in a world that we don’t even really understand? We think the space is infinite – at least we suppose that it will expand to infinity and ends in several scenarios – which also means there are infinite ways for something to begin. Theories like the Drake Equation assume that life must have certain conditions to start, because life on earth started this way and there is the problem: we just can investigate something we have or know, like, the astrobiology tries to find out as much as possible about the earth and the development of life on our planet because this is the only object we know where life happened. Before we go out in the universe and search for extraterrestrial life, we need to understand how our existence started, basically for which factors we need to look out. Of course, we don’t know how other ways of life came to exist if it wasn’t in a similar way like us, because we wouldn’t be able to imagine it. Just like the Europeans didn’t think black swans could exist till they saw some for the first time in Australia. We can be certain that something exists, but we can’t be certain that something does not exist. So what does that mean for the worth of life?
As long as we don’t know about other civilisations, as long as we just know our own planet to host life, it is miraculous, some would say unique. But would it change in a galaxy-wide network of different civilisations? I don’t think so. It would offer even more possibilities to discover the functioning of our world and by this, we would learn more about the single events that were necessary for even the most primitive kind of life to come to existence. We would still know how short our lifetime is, compared with other objects in the universe and maybe (optimistically seen) it would lead to a community of earthling or something, so more people would see, that all life’s matter and that there are more important points than ‘who has the newest notebook’ or ‘who has the fanciest car’.
How comes we highly privileged citizens out of rich industrial nations tend to forget that there are so many people poor, sick, hungry, thirsty or traumatised? Every life is a miracle in the same amount, every life is important to protect and to support as much as possible by every other living being that notices and is able to do so.
How comes we tend to forget or actively ignore that our urge for more and more consume and for a steadily growing economy destroys our home, our planet, our basis for a healthy life? The material on one planet is limited, so why do we think the economy can grow wider for all time? At our point of time, we don’t know any extraterrestrial forms of life and we neither know how to get energy from our solar system or our galaxy nor how to settle on another planet. That’s why we should stop taking in such an extreme kind and start to give more back. It is a remarkable start that many people switch their minds and take care of nature in many different ways, but it still needs more. We (the wealthy industrial nations) should stop taking land from farmers in Latin America, Africa or any other place where it would be needed to feed the people living there, to harvest soy to feed animals we’re gonna eat. This soy could nourish people directly instead of animals that live just to be killed for food. Killing them bring less food than the plants would if they would be eaten directly. My point is, even by changing one thing – like the kind of diet – there is such a huge impact on solving worlds problems, e.g. if the most Europeans would eat plainly less meat or none at all, the fields in Europe would be enough to feed some animals (there are negative side effects of ditching animals completely from the food industry as well) and all the people in that area and the farmers can use the land they would get by that change for feeding their own family and citizens. By changing just one attitude and habit world famine and animal abuse could be reduced significantly. So, imagine the possibilities if everyone would actively think about things he/she could change for a better world!
Just a little insight into my thoughts this evening, hope to inspire you at least a bit.
PS: I’m gonna write in another blog entry about why humans are such idiots to ignore major problems in their world.
PPS: One thing I like most about the internet is the huge amount of possibilities to learn something. Online courses are a great opportunity to educate yourself without paying too much and still get topics taught by real professors, e.g. the course I mentioned at the beginning is arranged by the University of Edinburgh.