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Catastrophes and Human Evolution
Observations and interpretations on the future of Man - Abstract

it's probably just a fluke we made it this far, but we will soon have the capability to survive anything short of a nearby supernova or gamma ray burst
by Worth F. Crouch (Talako)
Hope - January. 25, 2001
The development of space flight and nuclear explosive technology seem to verify the argument that there is an upward spiral of intellectual evolution on Earth. Although some other terrestrial animals exhibit a degree of intelligence only human beings can build machines capable of interplanetary flight, and have invented nuclear weaponry that can be designed to temporarily protect the Earth from catastrophic cosmic bombardments. Moreover, since October 1996 technological societies have learned how symbiotic life is by utilizing the enclosed laboratory Biosphere 2, operated by Columbia University outside Tucson Arizona. While living in the Biosphere it was discovered that humans can not exist long in an isolated environment without many of Earth's living organisms, or for that matter nonliving variable factors to sustain them in an ecosystem.

Moreover, in order to avoid extinction from minor cosmic catastrophes mankind can use actualized scientific knowledge to protect its' world by sending rockets with nuclear warheads to intercept incoming comets or asteroids. However, animal and plant populations must eventually be dispersed to other planets, or space habitats, that have been terraformed, to avoid major cosmic catastrophes that will cause extinction. As has been demonstrated in Biosphere 2, hospitality of these new environments to the different population genetics of Earth's living things is a necessity to accomplish the long time symbiotic survival of human beings. If populations are not significantly dispersed and our planet is bombarded by giant cosmic particles, like those of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 that fragmented and slammed into Jupiter in July 1994, the chance of a successful defense of the Earth would be minuscule and life would probably be obliterated. According to the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Stephen F. Austin State University's Web Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 FAQ, "The real show-stopper was fragment G which struck Jupiter with an estimated energy equivalent to 6,000,000 megatons of TNT (about 600 times the estimated arsenal of the world)." However, when it is remembered that fragment G was only one of 21 displaced pieces of the original comet and a similar comet could rifle into the Earth, that picture is the real show-stopper. After viewing the result of some of the impacts through my own home telescope it was clear to me that life's tenure on this planet is not secure.

Reinforcing this, the the Martian meteorite (ALH84001) seems to have been blasted off that planet by an asteroid impact about 16 million years ago. This event must have been a major catastrophe, probably significant enough to extinguish martian life if it existed, and the existence of martian life is not out of the question. Rod-shaped structures found on the meteorite have been interpreted as tiny fossilized bacteria by some.

Moreover, Simon Clemett of Lockheed Martin at NASA's Johnson Space Center reported on the presence of magnetite in meteorite ALH84001. "About 25 percent of the magnetite crystals found inside globules of carbonate rock in the Allan Hills 84001 meteorite from Antarctica seem to resemble crystals grown by an Earthling bacteria known as MV-1. Since the crystals were formed before the meteorite was blasted free of Mars in a giant collision, only Martian bacteria could have made them-if they are biologically made crystals at all, that is." Clemett presented work by a team led by his colleague Kathie Thomas-Keprta at the August 30, 2000 Meteoritical Society meeting in Chicago.

Furthermore, NASA has found indications of climatic change and the signs that previously Mars had liquid water and a warmer, thicker atmosphere. On December 4, 2000 a NASA HQ/JPL release stated, "In what ultimately may be their most significant discovery yet, Mars scientists say high-resolution pictures showing layers of sedimentary rock paint a portrait of an ancient Mars that long ago may have featured numerous lakes and shallow seas." This evidence further indicates that on Mars there once might have evolved simple forms of life that were blown into space and possible extinction by a giant asteroid/Mars cosmic collision and it is safe to conclude that a similar event could occur on Earth. About 50 Apollo asteroids intersect the Earth's orbit and unknown numbers of comets are continually being propelled slightly away from their predictable paths by the jet action of their escaping gases. Consequently, since it has not been determined how many asteroids are in the Apollo Belt and because comet paths are not exact it seems just a matter of time and a mathematically chaotic chance before the Earth will be impacted by an asteroid or comet capable of catastrophic devastation.

Important mechanisms insuring the continuation of life's existence are adaptation, dispersion, and reproduction. Coupled with these mechanisms is life's prime motive, which is survival. Mankind's survival motive compels him to defend Earth from cosmic catastrophe unless the threat is overwhelming. If the threat is overwhelming mankind can disperse its kindred symbiotic life forms to live in or on habitats off the Earth. When this is done, humankind will have increased its chances of surviving a catastrophic cosmic collision, because people can then colonize the designed hospitable environment populated with living things that complement human existence. Consequently, since mankind has intellectually and socially evolved so as to acquire the ability to protect the Earth from minor cosmic catastrophes, and can expedite the dispersal of life to other planets if needed, these are uniquely fundamental survival roles in animal/human evolutionary development. In fact only humans have ever occupied the biological niche that is the playing of these roles and it seems evident that evolution has put mankind in the position to be planetary lifesavers.

The life on any planet will probably become extinct over time, if for no other reason than the death of the planet's sun. Therefore, unless interplanetary travel is used to disperse living things from this world, life from it will probably dead-end. The only evident design capable of assuring multiple and highly evolved species survival, through time and cosmic catastrophe, is the evolution of intelligent beings working in various specialized teams and functioning as a creative unit. It also seems evident that the beings must have at least the capability of developing a nuclear defense and interplanetary flight; thus they can occupy a unique biological niche and act as planetary lifesavers.

Consequently, intelligent beings capable of interplanetary flight and nuclear technology have evolved by way of natural selection, and as a result of life's prime motive, which is survival. It therefore seems evident that intelligent beings capable of space flight and nuclear explosive technology may not have evolved on this world, or possibly others, to just survive as a planet bound species. Instead it is probable that people have evolved to occupy the niche that could perpetuate the survival of evolved life by way of planetary protection and interplanetary dispersion. If this is not the case, then the human race is destined for a planet-bound extinction, either by its own doing or through some other disaster as has been the case for all of Earth's previous dominant species. Eventually, another species more capable than Homo sapiens will have an opportunity to develop, and the protection and dispersal of life from this world may take place. If not, life will probably dead-end on this planet as it might have on Mars.

As Darwin prophetically remarked in his last paragraph of Descent of Man, "Man may be excused for feeling some pride at having risen, though not through his own exertions, to the very summit of the organic scale; and the fact of his having thus risen, instead of having been aboriginally placed there, may give him hope for a still higher destiny in the distant future."

In the late 1970's evidence to support the theory that a comet caused catastrophic destruction of the environment leading to the extinction of the dinosaurs was discovered by Luis and Walter Alvarez. Working with a team of scientists from the University of California they were making a study of the rocks around the K-T boundary in Gubbio, Italy. In particular, they were looking at a layer of clay at the boundary point that contained an unusual spike of the rare comet-enriched element, iridium. This spike revealed that the levels of iridium contained in the clay were roughly 30 times normal. Later, comet-enriched material from the impact's explosion was found distributed all over the world. With radiometric dating it was also found that the time of the comet's impact and the dinosaur extinction 65 million years ago occurred almost simultaneously. Evidence then suggests that the superbly successful dinosaurs became extinguished in a fiery cosmic catastrophe, because they did not have the intelligence to either protect the Earth or disperse life to other planets. Consequently, the evolution of intelligent space traveling nuclear explosive capable beings is life's cosmic catastrophe survival strategy. As Darwin hoped, this strategy seems to be Mans, "higher destiny" and is essential for the survival of evolved species from this planet. In the broadest context imaginable, mankind must go forth and multiply.

  • Click For Part Two

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