This discussion is about what impact humans have on earth, positive as well as negative. If given a chance to start from the beginning, what things shouldn't be introduced thus providing earth and humans (its inhabitants) a longer life?
The frame of this question is interesting, Earth versus Humans. We are not in competition with the Earth; to embark on such a thought is suicidal. We need Mother Earth, but mother doesn't need us.
The supposition that we have done things to the Earth that "shorten life" is too narrow a view. Although many have died throughout time due to human made disasters (ie., Japan's nuclear plant meltdown last March as a small example) and there has been severe environmental degradation in places, the population continues to increase. Just the reverse is true - -we have done things that lengthen and expand life, for the majority of humanity. When damage has occurred, we have implemented new methods that minimize or eliminate future damage.
True, if environmental degradation goes to the extreme, we could wipe ourselves out; but I hope wisdom will prevail.
When I was younger, I wished I could have done my life over again, only with the knowledge and wisdom I have now. But, there is no possible way to go back and even if I could, how could I or would I change anything that's already happened?
Our history, as well as the earth's is already written and cannot be changed. All we can do is learn from past mistakes and not make them again. And, who's to say what was a mistake? At the time such events were happening there were probably those who didn't think it was! Maybe we're doing things right now that our descendents are going to criticize hundreds of years in the future!
If we have the power to recognize that something we're doing is harmful to us or our planet, and alter our course to stop or prevent it then we are progressing. If not, we sincerely hope that what we're doing won't do irreversible damage that future generations are going to have to deal with!
I like #2's idea. If it were possible to start over, we wouldn't necessarily eliminate anything from being developed but we would be very up front from the outset about the long term ramifications of the development and very proactive in determining limits on the use of the technology or methods of compensating for its effects. If internal combustion engines had been developed using a different type of fuel or with more efficient exhaust systems; if coal-burning power plants were developed with highly effective methods of capturing and recycling waste gases - would we be able to change the outcomes?
There have been some improvements made to earth by humans, to play devil's advocate. Yes, we are generally very destructive. But we made the land more productive with irrigation, just as one example.
The rape of the land--including the eradication of forests, the destructive harvesting of minerals and metals, and the pollution of waters--would be a good start in preserving our earth.
I suppose that you could argue that the internal combustion engine should not have been introduced since that seems to be a huge contributor to global warming (the biggest environmental problem in my opinion). But I think the better thing to say is that we want to make it known at the beginning that this technology would cause problems. If we had, work could have started sooner and more intensively on coming up with alternatives.
@marbar57 if you actually are offered a choice to start over, then what would you do?
sorry, i meant'what could possibly BE the basis of life on earth?'
what could possibly the basis of life on earth?