Human extinction. If it occurred, would it matter?
This is not some depressed remark I am making. It is my way of questioning the mandate of a think tank like the Lifeboat Foundation, whose books I have been reviewing but the reviews have yet to be published.
We have some influential figures, writers and even Stephen Hawking justifying space colonization (as if it needed justifying) by saying it is a way to prevent human extinction. The idea is that if a catastrophe destroyed humans on Earth, other communities will continue to live on, based on the Moon, Mars, space stations, etc. Thereby we would prevent human extinction.
Fine. The only problem is, they don’t explain why anyone should bother, and it is contrary to existing political norms. The prevailing liberal, centrist, libertarian and even socialist philosophies in the west today mainly focus on the rights, pleasures, and just treatment of individuals. Where they are concerned, it doesn’t actually matter if no humans exist a couple of centuries from now, as long as people didn’t die painfully. The only concern, if you consider current politics and philosophy, would be about dispensing medicines and painkillers to existing people during a global disaster rather than actually ensuring fertility and the existence of future generations. Simply put, almost no-one would care about preventing extinction. Governments certainly wouldn’t. All their concern would be about administering short-term fixes to the agonies and problems of various individuals.
Surely, this needs to be addressed. Why is the species worth saving? Isn’t it all about saving individual people and caring for them? The political case simply hasn’t been made. It’s a gap on all our bookshelves. Personally, I believe global injustice is worse than extinction.