We have only one Earth. Was there ever a paradise on Earth? Did homo sapiens migrate out of Africa to find the Garden of Eden? Is capitalism destroying the planet, or can socialism save us and nature?
Almost everyone believes in Spaceship Earth. Some use the name Gaia. According to this notion, the Earth provides us all the resources necessary to sustain human life. It is up to us to either live sustainably or destroy the vessel upon which we depend.
What is wrong with the Spaceship Earth concept? In short, Earth is mostly not capable of sustaining life. Roughly 99.9 percent of all species that have ever existed on Earth are now extinct, some due to mass extinction events and some in so-called “background extinctions”. In reality, the Earth is almost entirely inhospitable.
If you were suddenly transported to the Great Rift Valley in its primeval state, you would probably die in a matter of hours. Likewise, most Amazonian populations throughout history would have quickly died in the Arctic. Most Arctic populations would have succumbed in the Amazon. Very few of us would survive for long if suddenly transported naked to a random time and place on Earth.
Knowledge is the variable most relevant to our potential flourishing. Without the requisite knowledge, humans will die virtually anywhere. With the requisite knowledge, encoded in brains, genes, computers, or other substrates, humans can survive virtually anywhere, on the Earth or elsewhere in space.
The knowledge in human brains are created by evolution and the variation is by conjecture, and the selection is by criticism and experiment. In the biosphere, the variation consists of mutations in genes. Natural selection favour the variations that most improve those variant genes to spread through the population.
Progress that is both rapid enough to be noticed and stable enough to continue over many generations has been achieved only once in the history of our species. It began at approximately the time of the scientific revolution, and is still under way. It has included improvements not only in scientific understanding, but also in technology, political institutions, moral values, art, and every aspect of human welfare.
David Deutsch observes that the word “sustain” generally refers to the absence or prevention of change. Environmentalists AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) would like to preserve our environment by ending capitalism. This solution is what all non-human animals have always done: leave the environment basically unaltered, and wait around to go extinct.
David Deutsch writes, “Static societies eventually fail because their characteristic inability to create knowledge rapidly must eventually turn some problem into a catastrophe.” AOCs believe that capitalism is the problem and sustainability is the solution. No, sustainability is the problem and capitalism is the solution.
Is CO2 a Problem? One of the cornerstones of primordial fascism is that there is no need for scientific progress, because the truth is already revealed. Another cornerstone is to follow the leader. But we must not try to avoid problems, we must acquire more knowledge so that we can solve the problems. Surely, new problems will come, either shortly or in the long run.
David Deutsch quotes: “All evils are caused by insufficient knowledge.” “If something is permitted by the laws of physics, then the only thing that can prevent it from being technologically possible is not knowing how.”
More David Deutsch quotes on a good reads homepage.
Neil deGrasse Tyson argues, it will be trivial to adapt to a wide range of Earth climates long before it is feasible to colonize the Moon or Mars. Any dependence we have on specific environmental conditions is the result of insufficient knowledge.
To think outside the box, is to think outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Yes, humans can survive virtually anywhere, on Earth or elsewhere in space. It just requires more wealth. Wealth is enough time and resources. We obtain resources using enough energy and new knowledge. We have acquired enough energy with knowledge of nuclear energy. The foundation is knowledge.
Both pictures from https://www.pexels.com/search/science/