Posts Tagged ‘Extra Terrestrial’

The End of the World

Mark Fraser is the host and executive producer of "Nature Walks with Mark Fraser"

If I had a dime for every time in my life that I heard the end of the world was coming, I would have a lot of dimes. Many people talk about end of days predictions and put them in to religious context that fit neatly into one belief or another. Now that may be convenient when trying to understand life on this planet from a religious point of view but I have to say in my opinion that doesn’t have anything at all to do with the future of our home world. There is no need to sell your house or live frivolously since you might feel that very soon “it won’t matter anyway” in fact, that would be a bad plan and lead you in the wrong direction. You see the world has been around for “billions” of years so long in fact that our species entire existence on this planet is a mere blink in the context of history. End of the world predictions make great headlines and get lots of attention from their sexy media hype and fear factor. All that emotional momentum  is great until the day “after” the supposed end when everyone who publicly believed that the end was actually arriving and ran around at the brink of insanity suddenly is left with that Y2K feeling of “whoops”.  H.G Wells knew all about the power of that belief and also how upset people get the next day.

I do not live life worrying about not being alive,  that doesn’t make any sense at all to me as I would much rather spend life paying attention to the wonder of being alive in the first place and cherish the time I do have.

From George Pal's "War of the Worlds" 1953

See when we incorrectly think “it doesn’t matter anyway” that false hopelessness creates an opportunity for excuses causing some to take the easy route in life. That in turn can actually incorrectly justify a behavior that is bad for the health of our home, the Earth. When you think it makes no difference then why recycle?  Why spend time worrying about preservation of wildlife habitat, etc. That kind of thinking is what needs to come to an end of days.  The Earth is a special place, truly a sacred gift. Just for a moment take a deep breath and appreciate you are floating in space in this mostly liquid bubble. There are millions of life forms on the planet right beside you that all do their part to represent the overall bounty of life on this planet which also “includes” us humans.

Once along the banks of a lake in the mud I found a great fossil, which upon review turned out to be a Trilobite. Now this species has been extinct for over 350 million years. So I am looking into a window in time, showing me a world of life long before we were worried about the end of a Mayan calendar. I suppose all things considered the end of days did come for the Trilobite – they went extinct after all; but that came at the end of a mass extinction when the Permian epoch came to a close. Many species were lost during that very difficult time and yet even then, life continued. Hundreds of millions of years later as humans showed up on the scene we certainly have made an impact on the planet.

Trilobite Fossil Image from South Dakota Museum

We are capable of such amazing and wondrous things and sadly are also capable of so much destruction. All things considered we are an amazing species in our own right. Sure we stumble and make mistakes some much larger then others but we are also capable of music and art, dancing and love. We can help other species when they are in harms way and possibly, one day even protect the entire planet from a comet or asteroid.  So for all our flaws we carry our own beauty to the planet we share.

So let’s get back to the “End of the World”. It does happen according to species like Mammoths that have gone the way of the Trilobite. They are gone now so to them their world really is over.

Some day, our own species will exist no more as well and we will actually go to the place that all those who came before us have gone.

I just don’t think it will happen on a specific predetermined day. I think we can certainly carve out our own niche for now and someday if we are in fact faced with the end of our own specific epoch of history then I would rather have “lived” as well as possible long before that time comes to fruition. The truth is we need to plan on being here for a very long time which means we “do” need to watch how we utilize our natural resources and monitor our impact on the planets health.   If we treat the world like the sacred gift that it really is and learn to truly respect the health and well being of all the other species we share this amazing planet with, then I believe our time here will be a happy time.  Let’s ” discuss saving our planet ” this way  instead of the so called “End of Days” lets think about the “beginning of a new day” when we celebrate life on the beautiful gift, “Mother Earth”.

Mark Fraser

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Evidence of Alien Life

Mark Fraser is the host and executive producer of "Nature Walks with Mark Fraser"

Today I woke to news reports of a NASA scientist stating he has found confirmation of life beyond Earth. That is going very well with my morning coffee.

Now let’s face it most of us new sooner or later we would finally hear about conclusive evidence of alien life. Ironic when you think about how not long ago that might have sent some running into the streets while religious scholars tried to explain away the implications.

Our current generation is just a wee bit more desensitized to new information.  Now since I make films and write specifically about the preservation of wildlife you might wonder what is the connection?  Being a naturalist simply means I spend my life in the admiration of the natural world.  I have always included space in that belief because our whole planet literally floats in the sea of space and when you start to look at the unimaginable size of the known universe it gets really tough to think that life wouldn’t be plentiful in the oceans of the cosmos.

The problem for us is a small one, literally. You see compared to all that, we are not even microscopic. I don’t just mean us, or even our planet for that matter, I mean our entire solar system is just a tiny spec.  Our life giving Sun is actually one single star floating in the Milky Way galaxy with somewhere between 100 and 400 billion “other” stars. It is even estimated there may be as many as 50 “billion” planets in our own galaxy and a real possibility that a huge number is residing in the so-called “habitable zone” distance to their own stars.

It’s so close and yet so very far?

The distance to our nearest neighbor star, “Proxima Centauri” is only 4.24 light years . Ok in miles, each light year is 5,865,696,000,000 miles (that is a really big number) so if you multiply that by 4.24, then you’ll know how many miles to the closest star. It gets super interesting when you think that the other approximately 400 billion stars in the Milky Way are all “much further” to us then Proxima Centauri and very much so in fact.

All that is just in our own galaxy of stars of course so everything else is further on entirely different scales. There are hundreds of billions of Galaxies, just as large as the Milky Way.  So like I said, we are tiny. Now when you again consider the Milky Way could have as many as 50 “billion” planets, and as many as 500 million habitable zone worlds, then the jaw really begins to drop to the floor.  Suddenly life beyond Earth is no longer possible it actually becomes “very” likely and even dare I say, plentiful?  Of course I no longer have to make the argument about extra terrestrial life. Thank you Dr. Richard B. Hoover an astrobiologist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. What does this incredible discovery mean?

I’m talking about the big picture, of our understanding of our own place in the universe? Well it means something we already knew, life is amazing, resilient and we are all lucky enough to be a part of a magic time in history where a scientist can openly share a ground breaking discovery and not be thrown in prison by religious fanatics.  It also means that we are of course not alone and that perhaps we should all pay a little more attention to the beautiful night time sky.

Will we ever communicate with an intelligent species?  I am not sure but I think so.  Since our own species is a part of the natural world I believe all the same rules apply.  Maybe one day we will hear a voice coming from the blackness of space across the great void like a frog singing across a quiet pond. When they first sing early in the season there are few, but quickly are joined by many others across the untold distance of their domain and eventually thousands of singing frogs join in for the beautiful nightly chorus.

Perhaps one day that’s what it will be like for us beginning with a faint call of a distant species looking to connect.  In time more and more until our songs unite our species across space and time.

Not yet though, this first discovery seems to be more about ancient fossilized bacteria blasted into space from some distant world and eventually raining down here on Earth with a meteor so we won’t be striking up a conversation any time soon.   It does mean though we are now entering a new time. From now on we can stop saying “if” and start asking “when”.

That’s exciting to someone like me.

One of the greatest joys of my life is finding a new species that I didn’t know about.

With the millions if not billions of forms of life on our own world just imagine what could be out there…

Maybe one day there will be a “Nature Walks in Space” episode… hey- you never know!

Mark Fraser

http://www.naturewalkswithmark.org

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