It has often been said that, if the human species fails to make a go of it here on the Earth, some other species will take over the running. In the sense of developing intelligence this is not correct. We have or soon will have, exhausted the necessary physical prerequisites so far as this planet is concerned. With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ores gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned. The same will be true of other planetary systems. On each of them there will be one chance, and one chance only. — Sir Fred Hoyle, Of Men and Galaxies, 1964


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4 thoughts on “Quote

  • June 26, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    If we just destroyed ourselves without taking others with us, there would be plenty of intelligent creatures who could become “top dog”.
    Dolphins, or porpoises (whichever is the correct terminology) who are possibly equal in intelligence to us (probably smarter) could/would do a much better job than we have. I doubt that they would use whales, fish, or sharks as slaves or dream ways to pollute the land, air or water as we have.

    Or elephants. These very intelligent beings, if suddenly top dogs on the planet, would probably not suddenly assume all the human qualities of greed, malice, etc.

    When one thinks about it, the trek from primitive to high-level technology isn’t a “climb” at all. It’s a deterioration.

  • June 27, 2008 at 12:56 am


    I agree that there may be intelligent life after collapse in the oceans. However, as Admin has pointed out, we have destroyed much of the ocean ecosystem. If the human footprint on the planet is reduced (through collapse or peak oil), the oceans might still survive.

    I also agree that technology isn’t a climb. But at the same time, I’m not sure technology is a deterioration, either. Technology is a at best a tool, and unfortunately, humans have not used that tool well. Most certainly, the modern-day post Civil War weapons industry is a textbook example.

  • June 27, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Technology seems good on the surface.

    Medical devices save lives, medical testing saves lives, transport technology allows things and beings to move in almost any direction, at almost any speed, and the list goes on. I have “benefitted” from technology just as others have. But looking at the picture, it appears to me that the downsides of every single technological “advancement” far outweigh the so-called advantages.

    One example is all the wonder drugs that keep humans alive, many propped up and unaware of their own existence, languishing like vegetables in nursing homes, all because we pretend to care about our loved ones, and also because the big pharma is hellbent on medicating every living and breathing anmal on the planet.

    Then there’s that thousands-of-miles-long swath of plastic in the Pacific Ocean — a great example of the wonders of technology.
    But you know what? Most people couldn’t care less–if they cannot see it, then it must not exist.

    Then think about the fact that EVERY single human (and probably animals) on the planet has a particular body burden of hazardous organic chemicals stored in his/her fat. Thank technology, and give them an extra thank you for the fact that each new generation has a larger body burden than the generation before.

    Thank technology for the fact that every single stationary body of water in the state of Missouri (and probably all other states) has an advisory on eating large-mouth bass and certain other fish due to mercury content. Plus many of the streams are so lead-polluted they, too, have the same advisory on limiting consumption of fish. Pregnant women have been advised to NEVER partake of Great Lakes fish. Thank technology for all of this.

    Rather than prattle on about the wonders of technology, I’ll say that while I use it as do others, I believe we could live much fuller, healthier lives without it, and in the not-too-distant future we might very well find out if this is true.

  • July 1, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Side note: Go see the new Pixar film “Wall-E”. Lots of great social commentary barely concealed on this very matter.

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