Terra: do mistake repeaters deserve to live?

Every few days I get down all existential on me. This time, it was because of the upcoming animated movie, Terra, written & directed by fellow Greeks Evan Spiliotopoulos and Aristomenis Tsirbas. The movie is set to be released this May in the US theaters.

The story is as such: “A peaceful alien planet faces annihilation, as the homeless remainder of the human race sets its eyes on Terra.” So basically, these future humans are the bad guys, having gone through several planets already, by using their resources up. They are portrayed as a species that doesn’t learn from its mistakes, as they keep repeating them on every new beginning they do on a new planet that they find to colonize. So these last remnants of humans, find this peaceful alien race living in a planet that it’s “almost” compatible with what humans need, and with some light terraforming it can be used by them. But if they do that, the very intelligent but not very tech-savvy alien race will have to die, as they are not compatible with the changes.

So the big question posed by the movie is if the humans have the right to annihilate this peaceful alien race in order to use up that planet too, and save their species once more. Here’s what I think. The answer is two-fold:

1. Speaking as a Darwinian cheerleader, it’s the right of every species to survive, no matter the cost or the ethical questions posed.
2. Speaking as a cynicist though (Diogenes being my favorite of all ancient philosophers), the humans deserve to die. They didn’t learn from their mistakes over and over again, so they should disappear from the galaxy’s face and leave it to those who do have respect for their surroundings.

Maybe the right answer is to let the humans die, but save their history, art, and DNA in a sort of a galactic museum. This way their existence will always be remembered, and their achievements will be respected, but they won’t be around to wreck havoc anymore.

Kind of like the dinosaurs. They had their time. Huh.


Joseph wrote on April 11th, 2009 at 10:54 PM PST:

I think the assertion that the humans didn’t learn from their mistakes is false. They did learn and found a solution, move to another planet. This is a workable solution. It’s only the “Oh my god the ice is melting” idiots that think it’s not. The main question is should they kill off another life form to survive? I think Darwin said it best, survival of the fittest. But maybe we could build zoos to put the other race in so that we could go and see them when we go on a picnic. Or perhaps eat them for food. Please don’t think I’m joking. This is Darwin in action. 99 percent of all the animals that have been on the face of the earth are extinct. And the overwhelming majority of them were gone long before man showed up with his clovis point spears.

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Eugenia wrote on April 11th, 2009 at 11:14 PM PST:

>They did learn and found a solution, move to another planet.

Only, the galaxy has so many semi-compatible planets. While there are billions of planets, possibly just a few thousand are workable for the human needs.

So what do you do when you have used up all these compatible planets? You move to the next galaxy? What if you can’t (like the barrier on the Pacific islands)?

Wouldn’t it be simpler to just LEARN to live in a way that doesn’t use up the planets instead?

And besides, what if the whole point of having intelligence and a big brain is to use it, instead of still behaving like an animal and be the pest of the galaxy where everyone else hates you — just to adhere to Darwin’s law of the fittest?

I think at some point you will have to look past Darwin, look at the mirror, smell the shit you left around you, and commit harakiri. That would be honorable and the respectable thing to do for the other species. It will be a statement towards “I am not a jungle animal”.

Not to mention that if you behave like an ass for a few thousand years, eventually the other intelligent species will bond together to get rid of you. You might still call it the “Darwin effect” either way, only that it won’t work as well for you this time.

Jacob Munoz wrote on April 15th, 2009 at 8:56 AM PST:

I know it’s just a fictional story, but I propose the idea that humans wouldn’t get this far, at least not without some degree of learning. We’re an incredibly lazy species (something we’re coming to terms with recently) and constant re-locating isn’t a very favorable move if you look through our history. Humans dig in, settle down, and plan to remain where we are for the foreseeable future. Uprooting all our homes and infrastructure isn’t an economically viable option for very long and requires a great deal of unity and cooperation in the decision-making process to do so.

So, yes I agree – in this story the humans deserve to die. And we probably will wipe ourselves out before we become interplanetary predators. But we still have instinctual fondness for lush foliage and fauna that may be our most important trait – or at least the only trait that’s keeping us from committing collective suicide.

A few decades ago, people didn’t care at all about the environment because untouched nature was still plentiful enough for us to ignore the damage we were doing. Now with climate change and oceans of trash, we’re finding that the beauty of nature isn’t eternal and requires great care not to damage. The coming environmental catastrophes we’re about to face may be the real evolutionary step necessary to ensure that we do not become the ‘bad guys’ in Terra…

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