The goal of a terrestrial consciousness is to survive briefly on a limited planet. the goals of post-planetary consciousness are to evolve and expand in time.
—Timothy Leary, “Musings On Human Metamorphosis”
I was originally going to write about the findings, implications, and potential ramifications inherent in this New York Times piece, “Are Your Sperm In Trouble?”—which quotes the troubling statistic that “about 90 percent” of the sperm “in a typical young man” are apparently unviable. But something interesting happened in the comment section of the post that I wanted to more immediately talk about.
Many people wrote that if the human race experiences a massive fertility crisis (or indeed dies out completely), it’s OK because we are, generally, “a cancer on the planet”:
Perhaps this is nature’s way if purging (to use a Favorite Trumpian technique) the world of the human race. We are superfluous to the world’s natural cycles. We are the cancer.
…not such a great loss for this planet. We are such obnoxious parasites.
The Earth and every species of plant and animal on it will breathe a collective sigh of relief when human beings are finally gone from the planet.
I have been hoping for decades that something would come along to render humans infertile by the billions to cure the terminal disease that afflicts this planet — human overpopulation.
So the human species may exit with a whimper and not a bang . . . the end of a dangerous self-annihilating species.
And on, and on and on and on…
I’m not clutching my pearls here: I myself have had similar thoughts over the years.
But my question is:
Is that it then? Are humans just scum? If we are not indeed on the road to extinction…should we be?
And you know who probably disagrees?
Probably a lot of rich and powerful individuals, at least in terms of them thinking about their own families. Take the Silicon Valley peeps who have their own “doomsday” escape plans. They’re ready to fight to stay alive.
So no matter how much we talk about how humans are a cancer upon the Earth, at least some people are going to keep on fighting to keep humanity going. They are doing/funding countless initiatives to do just that, in every possible way—albeit possibly benefitting only a small portion of humanity.
It’s just that we—these commenters on the NYT, occasionally myself, and perhaps even you—have given up.
This doesn’t work, you see?
Carrying around this hatred for the human race and wishing for it to be vaporized off the planet…it’s like members of a species advocating species-suicide. It’s like if more and more of the Woolly Mammoths were like: “fuck being Mammoths! I hope we die!”
There has to be a better way.
I have no easy answer here, and I’m just largely venting. And I know we’ve helped fuck up the planet.
But intelligent people constantly hoping for the death of the human race is obviously a sign that things are sort of fucked up right now, so…how do we start “unfucking up” things?
Because quite frankly, the more “naive” and unrealistic conclusion, I feel, is that humans are going to completely die out in this perfect “poetic justice” where Mother Nature goes “HA-HA” like Nelson from The Simpsons.
Now: humans might evolve into something very different to what we are used to; which might feel like an extinction. But that’s a totally different post topic.
Most likely, either in a planned (colonization, DNA “seeds” shot into space) or unplanned (just the detritus and bacteria and DNA specks we’ve sent out into the atmosphere and beyond) fashion, our destiny is the stars. And, especially with the colonization, it will probably involve some genetic engineering and “cyborg”-type aspects as well.
But are we going to just let the 1% shape this while we do our emo thing and lay down and fantasize about the extinction of the entire human race?
NO: we can’t do that. We need to be as actively involved in our future as possible. Because if we are not—this future will go on without us, in ways that might really really suck (for us).
As for the central point of the original NYT piece—that sperm counts are really low and chemicals might be to blame—science is pretty much getting to the point where they wouldn’t even need an intact sperm to make a child. But is that where we want to be? What is our quality of life? How do we want the future to look? Are we headed for A Brave New World scenario?
Again: why we need to be active, and involved. If we drop the reins in despair, there are plenty of people and entities happy to shape our future for us in a way that they see fit.