AMDG

The power of humankind has become breathtaking.  Geologists recently claimed that we are entering a new planetary epoch called the Anthropocene. This reflects our impact on the planet, on its geology and its ecosystems, with climate change constituting a small part of this ‘human-shaping’ effect.  Beyond harnessing the power of the atom we have also discovered that we are affecting the planet in ways that we could not imagine. One of the more interesting ways of the new ‘Anthropocene’ is how we are affecting the fossil record, particularly with chicken bones. Of the 60 billion chicken that are bred and consumed a year, there are so many bones filling our landfills that it is possible we are laying interesting layers for future geologists to discover – when the planet has become vegan.  Manmade artifacts such as litter, engineering structures, old cars etc will be known as ‘technofossils’.

It seems that we are not restricted to shaping our own planet,  I have just been reading about ‘directed panspermia’.  This is the plan of seeding alien worlds with microorganisms from the earth.  We know that bacteria can survive for years in the chill of deep-space, shielded from solar radiation. So if the time-span of homo sapiens is limited on this planet some ‘visionaries’ have started looking for other homes.  The first step is to identify suitable planets, one’s that revolve around a similar size star, in the life-enabling ‘Goldilocks Zone‘ i.e. not too close and not too far away from the star it orbits.  Having identified the target planet we could then scatter photosynthesising bacteria and algae into its ‘atmosphere’…. thus preparing an atmosphere that could assist the colonisation of the planet.

Are we playing ‘God’?  Contaminating other planets in this way risks destroying life that may have evolved on the ‘host’ planet independently.  So we might be playing Shiva (the Hindu Goddess of Destruction).  There are ethical issues being debated about this form of galactic colonisation.  Nasa is pressing head with ‘The Starlight Project’ – whose focus is on how to ‘propel’ intergalactic travel.  The plans include a  Terrestrial Biome in Space which will observe how the interstellar environment and extreme acceleration affects micro-organisms as they are frozen and then thawed on arrival.  As the experiment may potentially contaminate exoplanets, NASA’s funding does not cover it.   On a more positive note – an argument can be made that this is humankind using its God-given intelligence to assume its invitation to become co-creators. Our greatest organ for survival is our brain which leads to our ability to adapt.  This could be an incredible use of our intelligence.   Others would say this is our original sinfulness, the pride of Lucifer, who reached too far and was cast out of heaven.  It may even call for a seventh chapter to Laudato Si.