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The Fifth Great Ape
One of the great revelations of the age of space exploration
is the image of the earth, finite and lonely, somehow vulnerable
bearing the entire human species through the oceans of space and time.
Here we are on a planet which is about five thousand million years old,
the sun around which it goes is not much older
it is part of a galaxy which is perhaps ten or twelve thousand million years old
which is one of perhaps hundreds of thousands of millions of other galaxies...
Humans have been on this planet for something like a million years
and for the vast bulk of that time things changed extremely slowly.
The population increased very slowly,
our technology increased and improved by very slow steps
and just recently we had a huge increase.
It's what's called an exponential,
it's flat for a long time and then... boom!
it's an increase in population,
increase in technology, increase in pollution
increase in our powers to disturb the environment
to change the planetary environment
but we're the same old human beings as we were a thousand years ago
or a hundred thousand years ago,
not much has changed with us
and so it's very hard for us to catch on
that there's a new situation, and we have to adapt to it.
On the other hand, that's one thing we humans are good at...
adapting, figuring out
We're smart. That's our principal advantage over all the other species
I mean we're not faster, stronger, better diggers,
we don't fly all by ourselves.
What we do is figure out and build because of our hands.
The ancient myth makers knew
we're children equally of the earth and the sky
in our tenure on this planet we've accumulated dangerous evolutionary baggage...
propensities for aggression and ritual,
submission to leaders, hostility to outsiders
all of which puts our survival in some doubt.
But we've also acquired compassion for others,
love for our children,
a desire to learn from history and experience
and a great soaring passionate intelligence.
The clear tools for our continued survival and prosperity.
Our ability, to understand things instantly
so called common sense
derives from a certain range of size and speed and duration
that are appropriate for human existence.
We know about things from a tenth of a millimetre
to a few kilometres
from a fraction of a second to a lifetime
and so on.
So when we are dealing with matters of quantum physics
where particles are the size of 10^-13th centimetres
or in cosmology where we are talking about
ten billion light years or more,
it is very reasonable that our intuition
is not adequate to the task.
Fundamental changes in society are sometimes labelled impractical or contrary to human nature,
as if there were only one human nature
but fundamental changes can clearly be made
we're surrounded by them
in the last two centuries abject slavery,
which was with us for thousands of years,
has almost entirely been eliminated
in a stirring worldwide revolution.
Women, systematically mistreated for millennia
are gradually gaining the political and economic power
traditionally denied to them.
and some wars of aggression have recently been stopped
or curtailed, because of a revulsion
felt by the people in the aggressor nations.
If a five or six year old asks why the moon is round or why grass is green
the usual adult answer, at least in my experience
is to discourage the child.
say 'what shape did you expect the moon to be, square?'
or 'what colour did you expect the grass to be, blue?'
instead of saying that 'those are interesting questions, lets try to find out the answer'
or maybe nobody knows the answer
and when you grow up you'll be able to discover the answer.
It would be very healthy for the human species if there were
less discouragement and more scientists.
It's not that pseudo-science and superstition
and new age so-called beliefs and fundamentalist zealotary are something new
they've been with us for as long as we've been human
but we live in an age based on science and technology
with formidable technological powers
science and technology are propelling us forward at accelerating rates
that's right and if we don't understand it
and by we I mean the general public
if it's something that 'Ohh I'm not good at that, I don't know anything about it'
then who's making all the decisions about science and technology
that are going to determine what kind of future our children live in
just some members of congress?
but there's no more than a handful of members with any background in science at all
and this combustible mixture of ignorance and power
sooner or later is going to going to blow up in our faces.
I mean who's running the science and technology in a democracy
if people don't know anything about it?
Science is more than body of knowledge it's a way of thinking
a way of sceptically interrogating the Universe
with a fine understanding of human fallibility
if we are not able to ask sceptical questions
to interrogate those who tell us that something is true,
to be sceptical of those in authority,
then we're up for grabs for the next charlatan
political or religious that comes ambling along
it's a thing that Jefferson lay great stress on
there wasn't enough said that to enshrine some rights
in the constitution, or the bill of rights
the people have to be educated
and they have to practice their scepticism in their education
otherwise we don't run the government
the government runs us.
The global balance of terror
pioneered by the United States and the Soviet Union
holds hostage all the citizens of the earth.
Each side persistently probes the limits of the other's tolerance
like the Cuban missile crisis,
the testing of anti-satellite weapons in the
Vietnam and Afghanistan wars,
the hostile military establishments are locked in some
ghastly mutual embrace.
Each needs the other
but the balance of terror is a delicate balance
with very little margin for miscalculation.
and the world impoverishes itself by spending a trillion dollars a year
on preparations for war
and by employing perhaps half the scientists and high technologists on the planet
in military endeavours
We have let all sorts of social programs languish
as we have permitted the amount of poverty in children to increase
before the end of this century more than half the kids in America may be below the poverty line.
What kind of a future do we build for the country if we raise all these kids
as disadvantaged, as unable to cope with the society,
as resentful for the injustice served up to them...
This is stupid.
and then what happened with the resources is they went into increasing budgets for arms
isn't that where the money went?
That, and making rich people richer.
The money all gets re-invested,
if you've got money you put it in the bank
the bank lends it out to people
to people to buy homes and cars
But not poor people, but not poor people.
well that's a good..
It tends to stay up at that highly stratified, very...
so more people employed with capital formation...
I believe that the government has a responsibility to
care for the people.
I'm not talking about dole,
I'm talking about making people self-reliant
with people able to take care of themselves
there are countries which are perfectly able to do that,
the United States is an extremely rich country
it's perfectly able to do that.
It chooses not to.
It chooses to have homeless people.
This country has vast wealth,
just look at something like Star Wars [The Laser anti-missile defence system]
they've already spent $20 billion on it
if these guys are permitted to go ahead they will spend a Trillion dollars on Star Wars...
Think of what that money could be used for.
To educate, to help,
to bring people up to a sense of self-confidence.
We are using money for the wrong stuff.
So, that's another calibration of how serious the
stakes are these days, how high the stakes are
putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere
promises, if that's the right word...
a global catastrophe.
In the particularly field that I'm involved with
the exploration of planets
there we have opened up a universe of wonders
we have looked close up at dozens of new worlds
worlds that we never saw before
when you study these other worlds you learn about this one
it's a very important fact
by comparing our world with other worlds you can see a lot of things that can go wrong
Venus for example has this immense greenhouse effect
the surface temperature is hot enough to melt tin or lead.
Anybody who says the greenhouse effect is just some fantasy...
all you have to do is look at Venus
very important object lesson.
You put gases like Carbon Dioxide or CFCs
other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere
over this country...
They don't stay over that country,
those molecules don't have passports,
they don't know about national sovereignty,
that's something they've never heard of.
The atmospheric circulation spreads those gases all over the planet
and so what one country does affects all the other countries.
That's serious stuff.
The depletion of the ozone layer lets more ultraviolet light from the sun down
to the surface of the earth.
Skin cancer is a serious consequence
but there's a more serious aspect of it is...
that the ultraviolet light attacks the little one-celled plants that are at the base of the food chain
those are the guys that the next guys eat
and the next guys eat and the next guys, next guys
and way at the top of the ecological pyramid there's us.
we're ultimately eating the one-celled plants that have been processed through lots of intermediate
plants and animals
and it's, it's clear that very thin atmosphere, it's so sensitive to the depredations of human beings
you look at that and you say 'hey that's only one little world'
We don't have anywhere else to go.
No other planet in the solar system is a suitable home for human beings,
it's this world or nothing.
That's a very powerful perception
and, so again
we're messing around the global environment
in a very serious, very stupid way
and we just have to get our technology ahead
it's not enough to say that corporations can
do whatever they want as long as they make a profit,
not if they're putting at risk people all over the world.
They can't.
There has to be a new way of approaching this
and we can't say that one nation can do what it wants within its borders
because as I've said before, what you do in one countries borders
has consequences all over the planet.
The solution to these kinds of problems has to be that everybody on earth works together.
and so I think there's a
certainly a chance of us getting out of this mess
but not by business as usual,
not by the idea that we shouldn't plan ahead,
not by the idea that anybody can do whatever the hell they want
and it doesn't affect the environment...
So, there has to be a new way of looking at the future
and that is that we are all humans and that we are the same species
on one fragile little planet.
We are all in this together,
and we have to work together.
That's kind of the silver lining of these crises,
they are forcing us to become a planetary species.
Which aspects of our nature will prevail is uncertain
particularly when our visions and prospects are bound
to one small part of the small planet earth.
But up there in the cosmos an inescapable perspective awaits
national boundaries are not evident when we view the earth from space
fanatic ethnic or religious or national identifications
are a little difficult to support when we see our planet as a
fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light
against the bastion and citadel of the stars.
The old appeals to racial, sexual and religious chauvinism,
and to rabid, nationalist fervour are beginning not to work.
A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism
and recognises that an organism at war with itself is doomed.
We are one planet.
How would we explain all this to a dispassionate extra-terrestrial observer?
What account would we give of our stewardship of the planet Earth?
We have have heard the rationales offered by the super-powers,
we know who speaks for the nations,
but who speaks for the human species?
Who speaks for Earth?
From an extra-terrestrial perspective our global civilisation is clearly on the edge of failure
in the most important task it faces,
preserving the lives and well-being of its citizens
and the future habitability of the planet.
Here we face a critical branch point in history.
What we do the world right now will propagate down through the centuries
and powerfully affect the destiny of our descendants.
It is well within our power to destroy our civilisation and perhaps our species as well
if we capitulate to superstition or greed or stupidity
we can plunge our world into a darkness,
deeper than a time between the collapse of classical civilisation and the Italian renaissance,
but we are also capable of using our compassion
and our intelligence, our technology and our wealth
to make an abundant and meaningful life for every inhabitant of this planet,
to enhance enormously our understanding of the Universe,
and to carry us to the stars.
[End]
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卡爾薩根講時代精神(原創) (Carl Sagan Speaks Zeitgeist (Original))

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王惟惟 發佈於 2018 年 11 月 29 日
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