Shivanshu K. Srivastava
Renowned Scientist Stephen Hawking has recently warned the world that the mankind has only a century left to colonise another celestial body in order to survive the species. Unlike the 2012 doomsday prophecy, this time it’s not merely an eschatological prophecy by a seer, but a scientific prediction by the world’s most eminent Physicist and Cosmologist living today, hence it can’t be taken too casually.
The question that first comes to my mind is neither “can we escape” nor “how to escape”, but “why to escape”? From an atheistic viewpoint, there is nothing as such afterlife. This can be inferred as that there is no meaning of life. Once all processes of our body cease to function, all that we were until that very moment – all our memories, thoughts and hopes (the past, present and future) annihilates.What would we get even if we succeed to prevent the extinction of the human race? Absolutely nothing. On the other hand, from a theistic viewpoint, the ultimate saviour of humanity is Lord Jesus, Krishna or Allah, whomsoever we pin our faiths upon. When the saviour is there, then why to even think about the future of the Earth? Maybe the Lord has got some plan for us.
It is needless to mention that in the next 100 years none of us reading this article would be alive. Even if we plan to establish massive factories with the aim to produce spaceships on an extremely large scale, we would be knowing it well enough that none of us would be able to experience the adventures of a cosmic peregrination when the real time arrives. All the efforts we may put into will be in the interest of the succeeding generation. The utmost thing we could achieve would be our names being remembered and hopefully, our statues fixed on an extraterritorial soil. But again, everything is useless after one’s death. The lucky ones who would be able to relocate to a new planetary habitation would actually be not-so-lucky, as they will have to struggle real hard to sustain on a completely barren land. They will lead a life much inferior to the early men, who at least had plenty of trees, animals and rivers to bank upon. The rest of all those myriad unlucky beings would be lost in fossils. Dying on the earth will seem to be a better option than living on anywhere else. Thus, assuming Hawking to be right, the perishing of humans from the Earth is imminent, no matter whether we leave the mother planet or not.
Let’s now explore the condition of Earth in absence of the homo sapiens. It may be noted that besides the natural calamities, humans are the only species causing havoc not just to the other beings but also to themselves too. From the ozone layer depletion in the stratosphere to the loss of trees on Earth, and from the pollution of river water to the reduction of fishes in the oceans; man has infected almost every patch of this world. A species merely around two lakh years old has tyrannised the whole earth and is now planning to rule the solar system and beyond.
There is no denying the fact that the credit of each and every modern development and progression goes to humans, but it is also an indisputable fact that reckless ‘development’ has proven to be fatuous. If you destroy thriving woodlands to establish a so-called smart city, it won’t be a ‘development.’ Development and conservation should go hand in hand.
The first thing that will happen by all means is that the world would go back in the period before the War of Currents.There will be light only during the day. Electricity would soon lose all its significance. At nights, nothing would challenge the darkness, except for the moonlight and rare wildfires. Light pollution, being reversible, will be the first pollution to end. All the birds confined in cages, all fowls trapped in crammed coops, all cattle tied to pillars and all the animals kept in every zoo would starve to death within a week. The buildings and every piece of architecture would demolish and the bridges and dams would collapse. This will further add up the crisis for the animals. However, the animals would then start living a life of freedom. Prey versus Predator game would continue, albeit in proper limits. Huge industries and factory farms will never be established to catch, breed, kill and supply living beings. Nevertheless, it is not so that the animals will get immediate liberty from the most benevolent and most dangerous species ever on earth, that is, the humans. After a month, the coolants in the nuclear power plants would stop functioning, leading to ionising radiation. The consequences are self-explanatory. After this man-made funereal destruction, the earth would take its own time to revive stability for all its inhabitants. I can recall what Albert Einstein had said about the potential threat of the nuclear weapons, that “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” Months later, the artificial satellites would start falling from the orbits and spacecrafts will be pulled by the gravity of nearest planets due to unavailability of instructions. This will cause occasional destruction on the spot of Earth where it falls upon. Thus, until the creations of man is fully demolished by the forces of nature, it would continue giving “aftershocks” on the Earth.
Gradually, all results of human labour including all creations and destruction would be confiscated by nature. The plant life would again flourish. The crust would be engulfed by a natural cover of flora. This shows that plants and animals don’t really depend on us for anything, but on the contrary, we humans are directly or indirectly dependent upon both flora and fauna for our survival. Millions of years thenceforth, if the evolution theory is true, then a new species with an intelligence comparable with the humans will evolve to manipulate the land and other beings, again raising the slogan “might is right.” Nature will find its way and so will the life on Earth.
(The writer is a B.A. LL.B. (Hons.)
student in the Lucknow University).