The Earth doesn’t need saving. What can hurt the Earth? The Sun can. In a few billion years, the Sun will destroy the Earth. We can start worrying about that in a million years or so. A huge asteroid, say 1000 miles in diameter, could destroy the Earth. Not much we can do about that, so there’s no reason to worry about it.
What about saving life on Earth? Life has existed on Earth for well over 3 billion years. It has survived ice ages, large asteroids, diseases, and everything else that’s been thrown at it – for 3 thousand million years. At present, life exists on land, under the land, in the oceans, and in the air. Life on Earth is not likely to die off until the Sun does it in.
Certainly, some species will go extinct, and some new ones will crop up. This is as it always has been. Over 99% of the species that ever existed are now extinct. This is how nature works. Don’t feel bad: no species cares if they go extinct, except for humans.
So “saving the Earth” mostly means “saving humans”. Well, there’s good news about humans. There are human communities on every continent except for Antarctica. And we’re smart. We find solutions to problems that occur. We can adapt to many environments. Thus, it is difficult to see how a large portion of humanity can be killed off.
Disease? No. Many countries have modern sanitation and clean water and good medical care. Diseases that may have killed a large portion of humanity in the past can no longer do so.
Nuclear war? Only the United States and Russia have thousands of nuclear weapons. What president of the US or Russia would start a large-scale nuclear war? A small-scale nuclear war, say between India and Pakistan, would kill millions, but would not be a threat to humanity.
Global warming? The Earth is warming at the rate of about 2C per century. And by 2100, we’ll mostly have energy generated from sources that do not emit greenhouse gasses, so that will be the end of humanity’s contribution to global warming. Global warming may be disruptive in some areas, but it won’t pose a significant threat to humanity.
Overpopulation? The current population is just over 7 billion. But the rate of growth is slowing, and human population is expected to top out just after mid-century at 9 to 10 billion people. Right now, we could provide enough food for that many people. Technological advances will make food, water, and other resources inexpensively available to all.
So that’s it. Humanity is not under threat. We do not need to save the Earth.
Yet many people are suffering and dying who don’t have to be. And this breaks the heart of all people of good will. What can be done about this? What is the major cause of this?
At its essence, it is the lack of freedom that results in needless suffering and dying.
In the developed world, there is relatively little needless suffering and dying.
But in the developing world, millions are dying and suffering each year from:
- Pollution (mostly from coal-burning power plants)
- Lack of sanitation and potable water
- Terrorism (in Syria alone, millions are affected by terrorism)
- Lack of modern health care
- Lack of crime control
Why are these things happening? The governments in the developing world do not protect their citizens’ freedom to live and believe as they wish. In fact, they mostly violate it.
In many predominantly Muslim countries, you can be arrested or killed for having the wrong belief system. And if you are a person who was a Muslim and converted to another religion, that person can, by Sharia Law, be killed.
In most African countries, the governments are so corrupt that the ruling class keeps most of the wealth to themselves. And they don’t protect property rights, making it difficult for the majority to accumulate wealth.
When governments don’t protect their citizens’ freedoms, especially their economic freedom, their people will not become prosperous. Without prosperity, getting a good education is difficult. And having a good sanitation system is difficult. And being able to afford pollution controls. And conservation measures are difficult.
Without freedom, there is no prosperity. And without prosperity, many of the things we need to lead happy and productive lives are not affordable.
Prosperity is the key to a better world for all. And the single, best thing we can do to assist humanity in becoming prosperous is to promote individual freedom, especially free markets and free trade.
Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas. The views expressed herein are those of the author. He writes about mathematics, computer science, physics, the reconciliation between science and spirituality, and the application of Natural Law to our various systems such as education, government and economics. You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.