Man’s future on the planet

The planet is threatened by the greenhouse effect and we have to do something about it.» This is a well-worn cliche we have often heard, and perhaps just as often said ourselves. But how can it be translated into actions or even scientific predictions? Average temperatures are continuing to rise steadily, leading to a melting of the icecaps, a rise in sea levels, and consequently the disappearance of large land masses. It also entails both drought on the one hand and flooding on the other, as well as an intensification of the climatic phenomena we refer to as «extreme.» In other words, it means there will be massive changes to everything we have known, to everything on which we have based our economy, our development and our quality of life. When the temperature rises, nature adapts in order to survive. Animals migrate in order to find food, fish move to waters with better conditions, some plants become extinct, others benefit by the new conditions, propagate in greater numbers and spread out further across the planet. If some individuals do not manage to survive this process of natural selection, others will, including new ones that will emerge. But how good are we humans at adapting? Even if scientists manage to make glass spheres to save us from the worst, how much will it cost, who will pay for it and is that the kind of life we want? How much time do we have, anyway? Nature is not in a hurry, it has been through other devastating changes – even if not caused by one single species – and has managed to rebuild the chain of life and move on in a different way. The 70-, 80- or even 100-year life span of humans is a mere fraction of a second compared to the millions of years of life on this planet. But for us, the only creatures with an awareness of self, those few years are important, they are what we struggle for, for our own generation, perhaps also for the next one. Protecting the planet is of course a moral issue. However, if human beings did not live on Earth, if in some science-fiction scenario we could move from one planet to another at will, who would really care about the future of this globe? In Bali, it is not the future of the planet they are talking about, it is the future of the human race on the planet.