If humans were wiped out from the face of this earth, will something happen? Let us just think for a while. There will perhaps be cleaner water in the rivers, fresher air, greener forests, happier rest of the animal species, better climate and no holes in ozone layer, no more extreme climates and lesser natural disasters. Humans are not going to be missed at all by any species on this planet. No species has done so much harm on this planet to cause self-extinction as much as humans have through mindless deforestation and profusely polluting industrialization.
It is estimated that this universe has been around for 13.8 billion years and for most of the universe’s history humans were not even there. Earth formed around 4.5 billion years ago. If we compress the life of our earth into one year; then 144 years will be one second. If we take a look at important milestones in the evolution of fellow planet mates on this one-year scale, some interesting perspectives emerge.
On Jan 1st the earth is born. On 25th Feb life first appears on earth. Plants use photosynthesis process on 28th March. On 16th August there are signs of multi-cellular organisms and on 17th Sept there is evidence of sexual reproduction. In late November the fungi, fish and insects are born, and amphibians and reptiles appear in early December. Mammals appear on 13th December, birds on 18th December and the dinosaurs go extinct on November 25th. The evidence of the first hominid walk is recorded at 11.30 am on Dec 31st, and the evolved homo sapiens appear at 11.36 pm the same day. The agricultural revolution occurs at 11.59 pm and the industrial revolution at 11.59.58 pm. The story of human progress as we know today, is but a tiny part of earth’s life equivalent to only 2 seconds in a year of its existence.
Humans are less than one percent of 30 million other species that ever lived since the emergence of life on earth. Interestingly they are perhaps the only species who could have created a better planet through their blessed intellect, sadly they did the exact opposite. There is no guarantee that any of the species will remain on earth forever. Many species have had to learn in the past; to evolve and adapt for their survival. All of them are subject to the laws of natural selection. The species that failed to evolve are extinct today.
The earth and its inhabitants are a repository of magnificent survival stories to learn from. Mankind has faced several natural disasters in the past in which several human lives and property was lost. These disasters were also small hints for man to correct his course of development; regrettably these messages were not understood. Covid 19 is just another warning of more serious nature; another message that humans cannot go on plundering and consuming the environment endlessly in a selfish way. It is a call for humanity to evolve to include environment’s care in its activities related to progress. It is a call to respect the existence of other species on this planet and their right to live. Mankind need to stop invasion of space belonging to other species on this planet. It is a very serious warning for human civilization to adapt and learn to live in sync with nature and if it doesn’t then it faces the danger of becoming extinct and this can happen in just one cosmic blink of an eye. It is hoped that this time the humanity will look inward when it is forced to isolate itself, think, reflect, learn, adapt and finally evolve. This may be our last chance.
Professor Arun Sehgal(Visiting Faculty for International Marketing and Global Business Expansion to ICT Mumbai, Leading Management Schools and The World Trade Center, Mumbai)