The recent hurricane causing havoc in New Jersey, New York and the rest of the East Coast of the US generated significant media interest, and also ignited discussions about human responsibility, direct or indirect involvement in natural catastrophes and weather pattern changes. The relatively recently released film Prometheus also tries to find answers to questions on the relationship in between humanity and the natural environment. Is it possible to draw conclusions, parallels between the two?
The Movie: Prometheus
In the film Prometheus a group of scientists, bankrolled by a dying billionaire trying to find answers to eternity, trace the origins of prototype humanoids to a faraway planet, which was identified from thousands of years old cave wall paintings from many different cultures. The scientists suspect that these prototype humanoids “engineered” the present humanity, and are anxious to meet them to get answers to questions like “What is the purpose of life?” “How can we make life better?” and so on.
As they arrive to the suspected location they truly find a base where the prototype humanoids are stationed, but they find that almost all died with signs of a horrible and violent death. They also find huge quantities of a biological weapons, used to colonize planets by wiping them clean first and then terraforming on them later. But what comes to light is that the biological weapon as a result of accident was released on themselves causing their violent demise. There are also signs that before their unexpected end the prototype humanoids were ready to head for the Earth again, planning to wipe it clean and start again. Indeed as soon as the research team revived the last live humanoid in hibernation, he immediately activated his spaceship to start his flight towards Earth with his fateful mission, but the self sacrificing heroics of the research team stopped him before he could leave. The last remaining human researcher, with a partially damaged android, then started on an adventure of finding the original planet of the prototype humanoids in order to find the still missing answers…
One possible message from the movie is that the prototype humanoids, by their aggressive action of colonization, i.e. by clearing out past life-forms and then repopulating them with their own DNA, found their own violent demise as their own biological weapon of mass destruction exterminated them.
The Hurricane: Sandy
The recent devastating storm cutting a trail into the East Coast of the US is the latest presentation of an unusual and intensifying weather phenomenon, together with other natural catastrophes like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Of course whenever human responsibility is mentioned related to these natural changes, immediately there is counter-claim that much worse and more frequent such changes happened before, or that the changes are cyclical, and within the emotional debates the point is lost.
But looking at the way of life, and the general attitude humanity has been functioning with for most of its history, especially what happened in the last decades, and placing it in the context of the general living ecosystem, it is clear that humans are acting outside of the laws and principles of the vast system.
The general human attitude, the purpose and driving force of any research and exploration, is about how people can exploit the natural environment, how they can reshape it to suit their own needs. At the same time the “needs” of humanity have changed as a life of surplus and luxury has become a culturally valued norm.
Unlike other species on this planet, people are each other’s predators, exploiting, using each other for self gain, the behavior of which led to the extermination of entire cultures throughout human history… the behavior of which continues today.
The above two problems have led humanity to a crossroad: a peak point has been crossed. Today’s continued development according to past paradigms has become self destructive. This destructiveness presents itself as the increasing personal, social, economic and ecological problems taking place the world over. Today, humanity has reached the state where even without natural catastrophes, imbalances such as mass scale famine, water shortages, scarcity of natural and energy resources or even world-wide conflicts can threaten the survival of the human species.
Where Does Prometheus Meet Sandy?
The present humanity does not have the luxury of colonizing other planets as the movie Prometheus shows with regard to the prototype humanoids. But as the movie suggests, even colonizing other planets, exploiting more and more galaxies, would not save a humanity that leaves its attitudes, interrelationships and paradigms unchanged. A cancer kills the whole system and itself at the end, regardless of the size and strength of the body. In an ecosystem thriving for balance, a humanity thriving in overproduction and overconsumption is a guarantee for a violent ending.
Humanity even today possesses all the necessary information necessary for the awareness of its problem: the self centered, subjective, greedy inherent human nature driving humanity into a near dead-end. If people are wise, the present, relatively moderate crisis and natural catastrophes will be enough to initiate a self examination and a resulting self adjustment necessary for the adaptation to the natural system. If not, then Prometheus’ tale about the prototype humanoids exterminating themselves might be a prophecy that humans will realize.
Image: “Prometheus” by Lyon & Pan from Flickr