Who says we're luckier than the dinosaurs?
Had "that thing" been a bit bigger, this article would have been absolutely unnecessary or downright non-existent, so please bear with my babbling. While meaning no disrespect to the victims in Russia, I'm here to praise our luck and heave a huge sigh of relief. No more, no less.After feeling grateful that the meteor wasn't larger, we can now start pondering what-ifs. As they say, there's always a bigger rock in space. The one that hit Russia last week will soon be forgotten, but we should keep in mind the cruelest fact of life: the real clear and present danger is beyond our control.
As we make plans, plan our romances or plot our revenges, all we really do is float precariously in space, hoping or praying that we don't collide with something big. The dinosaurs neither hoped nor prayed before they were wiped out some 65 million years ago. Not that praying or hoping would have mattered, though.
Don't hope and don't pray, then, some say. Why ruin the rest of your life worrying about something that you have no control over? Why let some random lump of space rock disrupt anything? Of course, if it had been larger, our world could have come to an end. But we still live.
The rock that is said to have killed the dinosaurs theoretically brought us - who otherwise wouldn't have stood a chance - here. So, maybe the term "devastation" might be a little inaccurate. Perhaps a cosmic news report about the event should have read: "Planet earth embarks upon a new beginning today after the reign of incumbent rulers, the dinosaurs, came to an end thanks to a large asteroid."
The dinosaurs had been roaming the earth for so long that it makes human domination of the planet to date feel like the blink of an eye. Their feeling of supremacy and ours must not be much different, however. They were the bosses, and so are we. Or we only think so. The "real boss" is probably traversing the sky at a very high speed with an untrustworthy navigation system.
Again, "untrustworthy" could be a wrong assumption. If the conclusion is that the world is a better place with us than with the dinosaurs, why should we say the asteroid that killed them had a lousy trajectory? Was it possible that a hidden hand gently guided the giant rock toward earth so that a new species, us, could replace those pre-historic beasts?
The hidden hand (or, if you will, "new beginning") theory is worrisome. If the dinosaurs' extinction ushered in humans, who's next in line? If asteroids, comets or meteors are related to supernatural powers, what chance do we have? We may attempt to blast them out of the sky, like in the movies, but a baby one has just sneaked easily past our defences, hasn't it?
That we are a bit better prepared than the dinosaurs - who surely didn't have stargazers among them - doesn't mean we might be luckier. Having the knowledge and technology to predict a gigantic collision can actually be a curse. While they could enjoy carnivorous or herbivorous parties until the very last moment, unaware of a mountain-sized object thundering down from the sky, we would feel like dead men walking for weeks, if not months, amid riots, martial law and other meaningless measures and upheavals.
There are people who have really suffered from the incident in Russia. Their views of the world must have changed drastically after undergoing such a soul-wrenching experience. Money might seem less important to some. Ideologies may have been shrugged off.
For the rest of us, we can only guess what it was like, to witness firsthand the kind of power that we have no control over whatsoever.
It seems this planet is dangerous enough without us chipping in. They say if we compressed the earth down to the size of an apple, the non-violent surface covering the still-volatile inside would be as thick as the fruit's skin. Then we have earthquakes that can be massive and unpredictable, and the threat of drastic climate change.
Did the dinosaurs know all this? To be able to pose this question is the privilege of mankind. But it seems like the only privilege, and is by no means an advantage. Knowing, in this case, is never an advantage, by the way.
When the future rulers of planet earth study how we coped, that could be their conclusion. We, of course, don't want to be analysed, and can only hope and pray it doesn't happen.