Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 205, Supplement 1, pp 57–58 | Cite as

We Live and We Die

  • J. T. Trevors
  • M. H. SaierJr.

At the most basic level we live and we die. For centuries humans have asked what is the meaning of life? Surely there must be more to life than living and dying. For humans, reproducing is part of living. Some humans have come to the realization that life is not necessary any place in the universe. This simply means that all life, including human life is therefore not necessary. The universe does very well without any living organisms. So what is the meaning of life?

For an immense number of humans the answer is based in their faith in a creator and eternal life. But what if this belief is wishful thinking? The meaning of life then takes on a different perspective if there is no eternal life. Maybe the answer is—we live and we die. Or possibly the answer is to help each other as humans to preserve our common, shared biosphere.

Humans are trapped in our part of the universe because the speed of light is so very slow. Since, we know we can not exceed the speed of light, this means to travel anywhere in our solar system, galaxy or adjacent galaxies is simply not feasible even at the speed of light. We can not travel fast, hence the distances covered are insignificant and humans grow old and die before we travel far. Offspring will need to continue the voyages and we may need to be placed in a coma during the voyages. These all present immense challenges. So maybe we live and we die on the Earth for the foreseeable future and life has no meaning other than survival of our species, which is dependant on numerous other species for sources of nutrition and the functioning of our biosphere. Perhaps a better description of the biosphere is a planetary ecosphere. Even this description does not fully emphasize the necessary interactions that make our ecosphere function.

We know that our ecosphere has been assaulted with too many humans, consuming too many resources and producing too much waste. Humans have arrived at our current global climate change situation with a bulging population of 6.5 billion humans and about 75 million new humans being added annually. When will it stop? Or do we keep reproducing and dying until the human population crashes and the ecosphere is so severely damaged that it is beyond rescue.

Non-human organisms live and die without any religious beliefs or any grand necessity of purpose. Why do humans think or rationalize they are different than all other species on the Earth? Are the actual answers—wishful thinking, denial that we are not a special species and irrational thinking. While humans are pondering this question, we need to preserve and improve our ecosphere so as not to pollute it with too many humans and too much waste. Global climate change is the result of massive human population pollution and the waste coupled with natural climate change events. In the midst of this we live and we die pondering the big question—What is the meaning of life? We may never know the answer to this question, but while we are seeking the answer(s) we should not destroy our common, shared ecosphere with total global pollution and too many humans. We must rescue our planet from ourselves.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental BiologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Biological SciencesUniversity of California at San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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