Not unlike like our ancestors, when we don’t understand certain phenomena – those we don’t have answers to, we look to the stars in wonder and doubt. The current world socio-political climate makes one think how did we even get here? As families, as citizens and as the human species. Mankind has always tried to solve the biggest riddle posed to us… Why does life exist on this planet that we call home? Before we could look to the cosmos for answers, it is important we understand where it is that we are, Earth – our cosmic address, in relation to our galaxy and the millions of others that form the cosmic web. Even though a specialized knowledge area called science tries to explain this to us and while we understand the facts we do know, we have largely missed capturing the true meaning behind it all. Our quest for knowledge around the origin of life took us back in time to when giant reptiles called dinosaurs roamed this land nearly 240 m years ago.
In the same vein the study of fossils, excavation of archeological sites and dating of rocks helped us map back further in time. Did you know what the earliest known life forms on Earth were? The earliest direct evidence of life was seen in Australian rocks that are reported to have contained microorganisms like bacteria – these rocks are dated to be 3.4 billions year old – not too long after the Earth’s formation itself around 4.5 billion years ago.
But what makes life possible on earth? Water, Energy and Shifting tectonic plates.. Water allows for a soluble environment for DNA and protein to interact and aid in evolution of life forms – including our own evolution into humans. Energy from sunlight literally powers our planet through ecosystems and phenomena like photosynthesis in conjunction with the water cycle make our forests to be habitable self-sustaining systems. The shifts on our earth’s tectonic plates that form the earth’s skin or crust allow for land mass to have drifted into their current position that we call the Earth’s map. Did you know that that formation of thin strip of land mass 2.8 m years ago, known as the Isthmus of Panama, changed the flow of water currents on our planet forever? It caused the dry and arid climate we see in Africa today! If one were to look at the planet in a quick time-lapse through a calendar year with a view from outer space, like that of a stationary satellite, you will notice our ice caps melting into the ocean and freezing back over. Almost like the earth is breathing, like an organism, which it is! Not to forget that we did score some other bonus features like the earth’s magnetic field, the ozone and our perfect distance from our host star – the Sun.
We are proud of the advances humankind has made through sheer power of our brain’s ability to observe, draw conclusions and build on facts – scientific facts. Yet our knowledge bank is probably miniscule in comparison to what we don’t know. As we imagine interstellar travels and look to the stars for signs of life on other planets like Mars – we are forgetting that we are causing our own planet, our cosmic home, to choke. Each time the earth breathes, the ice cap layer that freezes back over has reduced and very rapidly so in a short time recently; all of which is directly corelated to self-serving human activity. I would liken our species to a virus that is using the planet, the host organism, for itself to thrive. Just like a dead host would cause a virus to cease from flourishing, so will we with the life conditions on our planet.
The dinosaurs had a meteor hurled at them causing a blanket of dust making it too cold for life to exist causing their extinction. What’s our excuse going to be? Are we going to be the reason for wiping ourselves off the Earth’s surface? Humans as a species don’t need to exist on this planet, although our ego tells us otherwise. Because many other life forms will make it through a post-apocalyptic world before we do. The earth will heat and cool like it always has since millennia. Yet, life will find a way to morph and exist in extreme heat, cold, dark and light, in the deepest of depths and the highest of heights. To circle back to the present times we live in, with all the man-made concepts and constructs like society, money, career, success, patriotism, race, gender, nationality etc. that segregate us – in the grand scheme of things – does that narrative really matter? Shouldn’t we humans unify as the smart species that we think ourselves to be and better handle the gift of life we have been given in this infinite spread of the cosmos?