Film actor Harrison Ford said recently on Australian television: Nature will take care of itself — nature doesn’t need people, people need nature to survive. The planet will be OK, there just won’t be any damn people on it.
Whilst Ford might not be the fount of all knowledge, he does raise an interesting perspective about where our current civilisation fits into the history of the Earth, let alone mankind. The dinosaurs disappeared in the Cretaceous Period, some 65 million years ago, although some descendants like the saltwater crocodile (above) might have survived. Dinosaur fossils appear regularly in eroded layers of the Earth but they were just a blip in geological time. Man is an even smaller blip.
Even within human history our present era is still a blip. We may have over 7 billion people on the planet. We may think ourselves to be extraordinarily important, technologically advanced and with the ability to transform nature to our needs. But at least 60 million people are currently displaced, with nowhere left to flee. Our impact on the planet is putting all the ecosystems under strain.
At what point, do we face up to responsibilities as well as rights, as well as self-interest? Will we wait too long and become another layer in the history of the planet? Look back at just some of the mighty abandoned civilisations of their time, taken over by rainforest or desert. The Chaco, Angkor Wat, Kushan Empire, Aztecs, Great Zimbabwe, Incas and the old Amazon civilisations are just a few. Another layer in history? Check it yourself!