I love reading about ideas. I come across new ones every almost day, but every now and then one sticks out as either quite remarkable or quite original. Such is this idea from Michael Mautner, Research Professor of Chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University, who claims seeding the universe with life is not just an option but is our moral obligation.
Lisa Zyga, the article’s author, beings with an interesting proposition:
Eventually, the day will come when life on Earth ends. Whether that’s tomorrow or five billion years from now, whether by nuclear war, climate change, or the Sun burning up its fuel, the last living cell on Earth will one day wither and die. But that doesn’t mean that all is lost. What if we had the chance to sow the seeds of terrestrial life throughout the universe, to settle young planets within developing solar systems many light-years away, and thus give our long evolutionary line the chance to continue indefinitely?
Well, what if? Mautner suggests that seeding the universe with our life is possible with current technology through a process called “directed panspermia”. The process involves depositing “an array of primitive organisms on potentially fertile planets and protoplanets throughout the universe.” Further, he says, “We have a moral obligation to plan for the propagation of life, and even the transfer of human life to other solar systems which can be transformed via microbial activity, thereby preparing these worlds to develop and sustain complex life.”
I wouldn’t go so far to say that humanity has a moral obligation to do as Mautner suggests. But, the Earth will eventually die out, and while the odds are that intelligent life exists somewhere else in the universe, there’s a chance it doesn’t. If we’re to keep life as we know it going in the universe, spreading primitive organisms across space seems like as good a strategy as any. The human race may never have the technology to leave the earth permanently and establish a civilization on another planet, but shouldn’t we plan for the possibility?
Writer Kathy Freston, a frequent contributor to AlterNet on the topic of the human diet, has posted a new article on this great alternative media site about the evolutionary arguments against carnivorous diets. If you don’t believe in evolution you should stop reading here. For the rest of you, please check out the article. A few summary points from the piece are:
- We only recently (historically speaking) began eating meat, and that the inclusion of meat in our diet came well after we became who we are today
- Early humans had diets very much like other great apes, which is to say a largely plant-based diet, drawing on foods we can pick with our hands
- Research suggests that meat-eating probably began by scavenging — eating the leftovers that carnivores had left behind. However, our bodies have never adapted to it. To this day, meat-eaters have a higher incidence of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other problems
- In fact, our hands are perfect for grabbing and picking fruits and vegetables. Similarly, like the intestines of other herbivores, ours are very long (carnivores have short intestines so they can quickly get rid of all that rotting flesh they eat)
- Most of us are “behavioral omnivores” — that is, we eat meat, so that defines us as omnivorous. But our evolution and physiology are herbivorous, and ample science proves that when we choose to eat meat, that causes problems, from decreased energy and a need for more sleep up to increased risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer
The link in the last bullet point will send you to another article by Freston on Huffington Post that speaks to the “protein myth” the meat industry propagates to manipulate people into believe meat is necessary in their diets.
I hope by being continually exposed to the truth on diets and how the human body actually works, people will reduce their consumption of meat. I’m not so naive to think that the world will become vegetarians overnight but a gradual reduction combined with continued education of our youth will make the world a healthier and more sustainable place.
I’ll be having a vegetarian dinner tonight. You should try the same.