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Can We Embrace Universe & Think Beyond Utilitarian Anthropocentrism?

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August 28, 2019 by Species Ecology

Can We Embrace Universe & Think Beyond Utilitarian Anthropocentrism?

Mohamed Ashraf

The Evolution of Universe in Cosmic Timeline : A Perspective Beyond Human & Economic Development! Image Courtesy : My Anonymous Friend who is Doing Graduate Study in Astrophysics!

At the onset this blog may appear off topic but try bear with me and soon you will realize it is not. The utilitarian approach which persists and continue to desecrate the ecological units from species to community, ecosystems to landscapes, continents to entire biosphere (earth aka ecosphere) now demand humans’ to make radical paradigm shift both in terms of actions and more importantly in terms of mindset. Not very many people hold non-anthropocentric or Marxist’s perceptions that are rooted into holistically appreciate the earth’s life support system from chemicals to gene, from photosynthesis to pollination from solar energy to ocean and anything in between. Earth is a self sustaining regulatory system and biologically sophisticated machine that came to evolve over the last 5 billion years or so. In cosmic timeline, this is no more than fraction of a seconds. The earth we now live did not came about from the mythological or stigmatized human affairs dating back no more than 3000 years of recorded human story. In other words, the earth system and its ecological processes that gave rise to rich diversity of species including Homo sapiens that we fashionably call ourself are not the by product of theological intervention per se rather simply an outward manifestation of millions of years of evolutionary processes dating back 4.5 billion years or so. Human values, belief system, identities etcetera pose little or no eco-philosophical meaning in broader context when it comes to earth as planetary ecosphere, neither these values help bridge the gap between science and public opinions. Broadly speaking, politics, economics, laws, and other liberal arts are utilitarian domain by and by and pivots around anthropocentric welfare where ethics and philosophy revolves around the ultimate vested interests of human and its segregated unfortunate society where capitalism and its excruciating devastation ensures endless economic growth in the name of so called human development and progress where majority of the people must float over pool of defecated slum houses across the continental landscapes and tiny proportion of people continue to reap the richer harvest by exploiting human labor, ecosystems, biodiversity and of course the earth itself. The metaphor resonates Mother Earth being violated by handful of powerful people who created a system what come to known as free market capitalism where trades, profit, gross domestic products, supply and demands are at its core and where earth and its species including humans are seen as commodities waiting to be exploit and destroyed in the surface. The system is so powerful that it controls human mind and there is no real escape from it. This blog is not about the curse of

Star Chart : Size of suns in our galaxy. Our Sun is 5th one from the left and the longevity of our sun is roughly 10 billion years in which it now has 5 billion years left. Image Courtesy: My anonymous friend who is doing graduate study in Astrophysics.

capitalism and its destructive power that has caused all the planetary and human problems, it is rather an awakening call to challenge human perception that can lead to ultimate paradigm shift. Returning to where I started, recorded history for human development is no more than 3000 years and it is true that over the last 100 years or so human came to think progress has been made to improve life and to reduce mortality rate : Thanks to medicine and associated scientific revolutions. Progress ofcourse is a relative term, human progress does not suffice ultimate progress and progress does not mean profit or capitalism. The distinction between human development, progress and economic developments are not as clear as it should be. For example one can argue decimating the native people from their lands and to bring infrastructure, technology, jobs and money are real progress but the truth is it is in fact ecocide where only capitalism benefits and rest suffers. This mindset and actions are prevalent across the globe and ferociously promote and popularize via television, news, media, journalism, broadcasts, fashions, politcis, advertisements and even through education systems. Human development and progress must not be bounded by capitalism, profit, land degradation, exploitations from biological diversity (e.g. fish stock, rainforest, water, air, soil as abiotic components of course) and human labor. The short term view to improve human life through market instruments via free trade and capitalism is pure utilitarian perception and fail to take considerations of earth as self sustaining biosphere within our solar system . It fails to see the planetary mechanism and its intricacies. Philosophically and astronomically, it fails to see beyond earth where our solar system is one of billion of solar systems in our galaxy Milky Way. Our solar system is simply a dot in our galaxy and there are billions of galaxies in our observable universe. How earth came to originated and continue to evolve against burgeoning insults from capitalism (please note I mentioned insults stemming from capitalism and not from population growth or humans in general) as a system per se remain back bench topic both in social and cultural rubrics in spite of scientific and cultural revolutions in human domains across the continents. In my opinion, the ultimate question is as a human race are we standalone species to think that nothing matters other than us? The ultimate science and the answer to my question rooted into astronomical underpinnings where we need to see us beyond human as economically progressive superior species. We need to consider cosmic timeline to find the answer of true development and its implications. We need to see beyond 5 billion years when our solar system wasn’t even born. We need to go further beyond to see what really happened 13.5 billion years ago when small dot started to expand which fashionably come to know as Big Bang (neatly illustrated in the image here) and the expansion of that what we now know as observable universe. We humans evolved from universe, borne out from hydrogen and helium gas to start with. Earth is only habitable planet that we came to know about but we see earth as resource to be exploited for human and economic progress. We fail to see how earth is actually came to live simply by a chance when massive gravitational collapse of dense cloud of interstellar gas gave birth to our sun which then manage to form solar system where earth found a place not by choice but by chance. In fact, pop out your head from your kitchen window in cold dry winter night and you will see one or two red stars. These are undergoing exactly what happened when our sun born roughly 5 billion years ago. In other words, if something like that can happen simply by chance, it sure can disappear in the blink of an eye. For majority of the people, five billion years from now when sun will swell and emits solar energy enough to incinerate the earth in few seconds seem little or no meaning considering the vast timeline but ultimately few thousand years of human history within the vast cosmic timeline really is insignificant. As a human we have the power to see earth beyond our narrow view and we can choose to challenge our perceptions and mindsets to lead life not as a global exploitative human citizen of planet earth but as responsible biological entity of observable universe dating back 13 billion years when it started to expand and continue to expand as we speak. Where is our ultimate position in this vast cosmic space? It surely is not within our little utilitarian and destructive anthropocentric life that goes back only few thousands years of recorded human history.

N.B. This post is dedicated to my life-long friend who taught me astronomy more than I ever known. My friend instill thoughts that catalyzed an intellectual growth and process that I never knew existed within me. I thank my friend who soon will become a fine astronomy professor. I also like to thank professor Sandra Faber of University of California, Santa Cruz, for her brilliant and scholarly essay entitled “Why Astronomy?”.

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