Global Change Seminar
"It's Your Move!"
Segment #2: Is our Planet In Trouble?
Part I: Historical Perspective
Reflect for a moment. We want stability in our lives, yet we get bored with the same old, same old. We tend to assume that the things we like should remain unchanged for ever, and the things we don't like should get fixed ASAP. We know with our intellect that we will die, yet we spend most of our time living as if we're immortal. We think of our life span as a long time and, for the most part, base our behavior on the assumption that things won't change for the worse during it. And, now, it seems clear that the future of every species on earth is dependent on and affected by the actions of each individual member of the human species.
Time and scale are concepts people have difficulty with. Scientists have discovered that time and space are simply different dimensions of the same thing, spacetime. It is hard for most of us to wrap our minds around very large or very small numbers, not to mention the concept of spacetime. These ideas are at the very edge of the human ability to grasp in a meaningful way (it rarely occurs to us that our cognitive capacity has limitations) but are basic for an understanding of our place and our situation.
Please do (click on the link) the Doubling exercise next before proceeding with the rest of this page.
Now, to further put one's self into a larger context, consider some facts about human origins as shown below. To the best of our knowledge, these are as well established as science has so far made them.
People tend to see things in relation to their own life span and their own size scale. It is hard to realize how myopic and limited human perception is. Perhaps by reflecting on the vastness of time and space, and the minuteness of its components, one can improve one's perspective about one's own individual, and all of humanity's, place in the grand scheme of things.
- How many of these facts do you know?
- How often do you think about them?
- Do you know many people who think about their life in the context of all life on the planet?
- What strikes you most about what you just read?
Next: Urgent Global Problems