Humanity: from evolution to avoiding extinction

Scientists in general usually take the starting point of human history to be about 65 million years ago, with the appearance of the first primates. In any case, the last common ancestor between humans and chimpanzees existed around 6 or 7 million years ago.

Although the limits are not exact, since different types of hominids have been coexisting for a long time, the first species of the genus Homo appeared about 2.5 million years ago and gradually dispersed throughout Africa, Europe and Asia. In its first manifestations it was known as Homo habilis, it was robust, agile, walked upright and had developed the prehensile capacity of its hands. He knew how to use fire, but not produce it, he made some tools and protected himself in caves. He lived by collecting seeds, roots, fruits and occasionally ate meat.

The species that developed after this is called Homo erectus, 1.5 million years ago. He advanced to a new stage in tool making called Acheulean and learned to conserve fire. This species lasted ten times longer than modern humans have been on earth.

One or more subspecies of Homo erectus evolved into Homo sapiens neanderthalis (Neanderthal man), whose oldest remains are around 250 thousand years old. Neaderthal man suddenly disappeared, and his place was occupied by modern men, about (barely) 50 thousand years ago.

So we could say that at least for a few million years of constant evolution, except for the use of some rudimentary tools and the management of fire, human beings have had a behavior very similar to that of other animal species.

But in the last 35 to 50 thousand years, a short period of time in history, everything changed. This ability to create tools translated into the use of some of them as weapons, the use of fire also began to have new uses and then, little by little, we stopped being nomads, fruit gatherers and hunters, to build the first settlements. , in which agriculture played a predominant role.

It was probably at that stage that we began the path of mastering nature, not only using the resources that it made available to us naturally, but also modifying it for our benefit. Not only adapting, but adapting it.

The settlements grew, livestock farming was added to agriculture, and barter or exchange mutated into commerce. Historically there have been many different types of money, from pigs to seashells. However, the most widespread throughout history has undoubtedly been gold, until about 2700 years ago, the first coins began to be minted, also made of that metal and silver, and then the first banks appeared. Until then, the ambition for power surely existed in human beings, but a new ambition appeared, the economic one.

After several million years of “natural evolution”, it could be said that with minimal environmental impact, we began to divorce ourselves from nature. During these few thousand years before us, we have rapidly exerted more and more power, mastering it, adapting it to our needs, using it and modifying it. And especially since the beginning of the industrial revolution, we have gone from use to abuse.

The beginning of the extinction of Humanity

Less than three centuries have been enough to place humanity, like so many other species, at serious risk of extinction. The abuse that human beings are making of nature has been such that we have modified the climate of the entire planet. And that in just a few seconds in terms of the history of our species.

Economic ambition brought about the exacerbation of selfishness and individualism. These “new values” gave rise to the organization of society under economic systems, which have governed, for a few hundred years and until today, the destiny of every living being on the planet.

We are immersed, socially and culturally, in a way of life that is centered on possession, on private property, on money. A way of life that confronts nature, that degrades it by leaps and bounds and that is greatly reducing the chances of survival of the next generations.

We are running out of time to change course, we are about to crash and we will hardly be able to avoid it. There are no more options left than a radical change in our way of life, especially for 20 or 30% of the planet's population, which is consuming 80% of the resources.

The majority of people who belong to that 20 or 30% of which we speak are moderately aware that we are facing an environmental crisis that could be terminal. But just being aware of the problem is obviously not enough. And that is because on the one hand they can largely satisfy all their needs, which offers them a comfort that hardly anyone would decide to leave on their own. And on the other hand, our societies are constituted in such a way that there are very few concrete possibilities of living in a more harmonious way with nature, without this meaning exposing ourselves to risks of all kinds.

There are practically no options to try to keep ourselves protected under the alleged (and false) security that the system offers us. There are practically no plans from the governments of the world to modify this tendency to remain inert in the face of the coming disaster. They do not emerge from below, or they are not given enough space, nor economic or political support for truly revolutionary proposals and projects that generate a profound modification of current paradigms.

So, put between a rock and a hard place, sooner rather than later, we will have to choose. The time has passed for us to sit still, waiting for magical solutions. A new era must begin very soon, founded on the reconciliation of human beings with nature and a radical change in the values ​​that this system exacerbates, towards cooperation, solidarity, ethics and many others that we have postponed as a species.

A new era must prevail, if we really decide to avoid extinction.

By Ricardo Natalichio