No civilization will last forever

While watching BBC’s Earth: The Power of the Planet I was pleasantly surprised I wasn't confronted with the typical nature show patronizing speech on how our actions have caused global warming (or cooling? Lets say climate change) and how very bad we are in using (fossil) energy. Instead of all this, the TV series presenter ended with a very insightful speech which I feel captures the whole ‘we should all save the planet’ debate into what it really is all about:

Our planet is really tough and there is nothing to suggest that it is going to change anytime soon in the long run. Earth can cope with anything we can throw at it.

We could clear all the jungles, but a jungle can regrow over a few thousand years. We could burn all earths’ fossil fuels, flooding the atmosphere with carbon dioxide. But even then, it will take the planet only a million years or so for the atmosphere to recover.

Even the animals we are wiping out will eventually be replaced by others equally rich in diversity. As a relentless work of evolution continues, it’s only a question of time. The earth will be just fine.

It’s not to say rapid changes we force on earth don’t matter, that is because humans operate on a different time scale. We have evolved to life in a world as it is now.
So in changing this world, we are altering the environment that has allowed the human race to thrive. We could be creating conditions that threaten that long term survival of our civilization.

So all this stuff about saving planet earth, well that is not the problem. Planet earth doesn't need saving - earth is a great survivor - it’s not the planet we should be worrying about, it’s us.

(transcribed: Dr Iain Stewart )

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