With great power comes great responsibility
As pointed out in Mr. Ryan’s editorial, recent scientific discoveries, and generally speaking the exponential advances of science and technology, provide a much broader perspective on Earth’s place in the vast continuum of the universe. Although scientists could very well discover a habitable planet similar to our own in the decades to come, odds are slim that humans will be able to settle on such a planet; and from a technological point of view, we are light years away from even possibly considering colonizing another distant planet (after we’ve destroyed our own).
To those of you who enjoyed the editorial and who wish to further explore the topics raised by Mr. Ryan, I recommend Edward O. Wilson’s 2014 book The Meaning of Human Existence. In his most recent work, the biologist uses the current lens of scientific discovery, theory and knowledge to explore some of the most profound questions humanity faces: Where do we come from? What is our role? How did we come to be? Is there life outside of this planet? By situating humanity on the continuum of life on Earth and of our planet on the cosmic scale, Wilson provides a clearer picture of how to tackle these questions.
By concluding his editorial with an ethical stance on our collective responsibility to preserve our planet, Mr. Ryan touches upon one of the key points made by Wilson, namely, that the fast-paced progress of science and technology will confront us with many important ethical questions. In short, the author suggests that we are now at a point in time where we must reach back to the Enlightenment’s old dream of reconciling science and the humanities.