The development of mankind is full of paradoxes. It is especially obvious in how to treat nature. Is it passively conforming to nature? Or is it actively exploring and transforming nature? Arguments like this. It has never been calmed down in history, and today, the quarrel is even more fierce. why?
Today’s science and technology are developing so fast, artificial intelligence, artificial life, large-scale transformation of the earth, and other technologies that existed only in science fiction in the past, have gradually become feasible. However, these technologies are either uncontrollable and extremely risky to implement. For example, nuclear power plants send us cheap electricity, but nuclear leaks and nuclear waste bring potential dangers to people, not to mention that the existing nuclear weapons on the earth are enough to destroy mankind several times. Once nuclear weapons fall into terrorists and people who do not care about people’s life and death. In the hands of a rogue, the consequences are even more unimaginable. Either once it is implemented, the existing ethics of mankind will be impacted, such as cloning technology.
Faced with these problems, should we implement first and then govern, or should we think twice before implementing? Is it to adapt to the development of technology, change our ethics and morals, or let ethics and morals impede the development of technology? Mankind is far from reaching a consensus on these issues.
All this ultimately boils down to a question: “Should we continue to study?” Due to space limitations, this article only selects a few representative topics for discussion.
Should the earth be engineered?
In addition to being threatened by robots and man-made life, the personal safety of human beings is more often tested by extreme weather. There are more and more smog and sandstorms caused by air pollution, hotter summers and colder winters brought about by the greenhouse effect, as well as earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions, all of which cause people to suffer. Thus, scientists have the idea of ”engineering” the earth.
Engineered earth refers to the behavior of human beings to actively transform or manipulate the earth’s environment on a large scale to cope with or offset the effects of changes in atmospheric chemical composition, thereby protecting the current ecosystem.
Experts’ suggestions for engineering the earth can be described as brainstorming. For example, American entrepreneur Nathan Myrvold proposed the deployment of 1 million 100-meter-long plastic pipes to stir the sea and cool the earth. This proposal sounds crazy, but it has some truth. The ocean is a huge radiator with a bottom close to 0°C. Generally, under the action of wind, ocean currents will send lower-temperature lower seawater to the sea surface, absorbing more carbon dioxide and heat, while the upper seawater that previously absorbed carbon dioxide and heat It will sink to the bottom of the sea and repeat itself. Stirring the ocean can have a similar effect.
Other suggestions include placing giant mirrors in space to reflect sunlight; using a thick enough blanket to cover Greenland to prevent the melting of glaciers there; investing a large amount of iron into the ocean to promote the growth of algae and increase the absorption of carbon dioxide; There is also painting the roof white to reflect the sunlight more…
However, these projects have their own obvious drawbacks, such as high cost, pollution, and damage to the ecology.
However, there is one project that scientists think is more feasible-the stratospheric parasol project.
This project was inspired by the effect of a sunshade produced during a large-scale volcanic eruption. For example, in 1991, after a large amount of gas and volcanic ash ejected from Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines entered the stratosphere, an aerosol cloud gradually formed that enveloped the earth, reflecting a large amount of sunlight. During the period from 1992 to 1993, The sunlight reaching the surface of this area has been reduced by more than 10%. Based on this, the scientists’ idea is to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and then use the carbon dioxide to deploy an aerosol cloud-like stratospheric umbrella to reflect the sun’s heat back into space. At present, part of this idea has been in the field test stage.
But opponents believe that although this will be one of the fastest ways to curb global warming, it is also the most dangerous way. Once the project starts, global climate patterns will be greatly affected.
According to research, the volcanic eruption can reflect sunlight, but at the same time it leads to a decrease in rainfall, especially in tropical areas, thereby reducing crop yields and even causing drought. The eruption of Mount Pinatubo is also considered to be one of the “culprits” that caused the Mississippi River flood in the United States in 1993 and the drought of the African desert grasslands in the same year.
At the same time, in order to create aerosol clouds, it is necessary to spray a large amount of sulfate into the atmosphere, which will not only reduce the heat emitted by the sun to the ground, but may also cause the ozone layer to be destroyed. Moreover, these sun-shading materials arranged in the stratosphere will eventually fall to the ground. Once you do not continue to use parasols, the world will suffer huge consequences, and within a few years, the global temperature will rise rapidly.
In addition, people worry that such research will revive the weather weapons that can manipulate the climate in wars and aggressions. The so-called “weather weapon” refers to the use of modern technology to artificially create natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, torrential rains, mountain torrents, avalanches, heat, high temperatures, and aerosols to achieve military goals. At that time, the consequences for mankind may be catastrophic.
People who oppose the engineered earth believe that since the engineered earth has so many dangers and consequences, we should stop studying it. Therefore, it is imperative to focus on preventing the strengthening of the greenhouse effect. But in fact, if we want to save the planet from the effects of climate deterioration, we need to take immediate intensive action with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2070. However, in accordance with our dependence on fossil fuels, the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero has become increasingly unattainable.
Therefore, although the engineered earth may not be a world-class recipe, if one day we encounter a crisis of overheating, the research of these engineered earths may be of value, at least, it can urgently cool the earth.
What moral problems will colonizing aliens encounter?
With the deterioration of the earth’s environment and the rapid increase in population, sooner or later humans will have to colonize aliens. Therefore, it is better to prepare as soon as possible.
One of the representative figures with this idea is Tesla CEO Elon Musk. He is currently intensively preparing for the “Mars Colonization” project. He plans to gradually send 1 million people to Mars starting in 2024 and build a complete and sustainable civilization on Mars. Not only his company, other space agencies and private companies also have this plan.
When the technical challenges required to allow humans to settle permanently on Mars were overcome one by one, some people questioned: Is it really moral to let humans take over another planet?
This question is the same as other moral problems. The questions we need to consider are a series of questions: If there is life on another planet, do those life have the same rights as life on earth? What if those lives are just microbes? Or is there no life in that world? Human beings have the right to leave their footprints on a planet in a pristine state, and kill them at their feet before the civilization of that planet begins? If the colonization is successful, will humans destroy the next planet like the earth?
In fact, placing humans on another planet means that humans may completely eliminate all native creatures on this planet. Take Mars as an example. At present, the only possible life on Mars is bacteria. And how do humans treat the bacteria on the earth? We sprinkle pesticides, use antibiotics, and sterilize with soap every day…It is conceivable that humans will not be merciful to this only Martian life. Once the excitement period of finding microbes on Mars has passed, for the expansion of human civilization, people will find ways to eliminate those Martian microbes that are not good for humans, and it is natural to sacrifice them to establish human civilization on Mars.
Of course, the successful colonization of aliens also means that humans will have the responsibility to build aliens into a successful civilized society. Therefore, we must seriously examine the current way humans treat the earth. In fact, we have occupied and changed the earth, but we have not done so well in maintaining the earth. If the earth really deteriorates to the point where humans cannot survive and must leave, who can guarantee that humans will not repeat the same mistakes on the next planet? Only by formulating perfect social rules and ethics, can human beings live longer on the next planet.