This was nothing short of a mind-blowing read that I cannot recommend too highly: https://www.theatlan...history/617793/
It's a long story, too long to quote, but then it details a ~40 million year stretch of Earth's history to provide some perspective on what we're looking at today and going forward.
While on the one hand it's yet another "sobering" article about how fucked we are (and we are soooooo fucked; how much more "sober" can we get??), on the other it was truly mind-blowing in terms of providing the most intuitive perspective of Deep Time with regards to Earth's climate and our evolution within it I've ever found.
We can only really comprehend very big, very small, very far, etc. by comparison. So I have an intuitive feel for how far "about 10 miles away" is, or how long 20 minutes takes to pass but grasping 20,000 years or 40 million years (or how far a "light year" is) is another thing altogether. This story extended my comprehension, or at least my perceived comprehension, of deep time considerably.
But wait there's more...
After reading that article and grokking what a 40 million-year long stretch of time entails as well as possible, take another step back and consider the fact that "40 million years" virtually qualifies as "the present" in terms of Geologic Time, as seen here: https://dinosaurpict...ncient-earth#35
That site shows 750 million years of geologic history, which is almost nineteen 40-million year blocks of time. We could have evolved from primitive mammals 19 times over in that span, and that's less than 1/4 of the age of this planet. Complex life forms only crawled or slithered or something on to land a mere billion years ago.
Now take one more step up in scale, where astronomical times and distances dwarf terrestrial ones.
All this stuff helps me tolerate my existence better since it gives me the perspective that we're arguably among the Universe's biggest Powerball Lottery winners. Simply BEING here is a victory against almost all odds. So is being able to learn this stuff about our world and Universe thanks to our being alive now instead of a thousand years ago when we only had vague guesses (or no conception at all) about the existence of things we now take for granted (galaxies, microbes, quantum phenomena, etc.).
Consider how lucky we've been for so long as far as catastrophes and climate are concerned; our lives take place entirely within a beaker that could easily be shattered by a space rock, fried by a nearby astronomical event, or rendered unlivable by natural processes (or our own myopic stupidity). Calling it a "razor's edge" would be an understatement.
And getting freaked out or bummed by the end of such a long stretch of easy living won't change anything so we might as well marvel at the fact that we exist at all, even if it's only been long enough to begin to develop self-awareness so that we can freak out about being self-aware for a few minutes until nature or our own hubris renders us extinct just like has already happened to 99.9% of all species that have ever existed (according to some estimates, though no other examples I know of involve hubris).
Thinking about Earth like a beaker we're conducting chemistry experiments in while we're living in it seems like it would call for a lot more prudence when it comes to the nature of our "experiments." Oh well, better luck next time I guess.
How about we all agree to meet back up in 30 or 40 million years and try to get it right next time?
We should probably arrange meet on a tall mountain in case the sea level is higher than expected (it will probably have gone up and down hundreds of feet multiple times by then so will be real hard to predict).
Edited by TVCasualty, 04 February 2021 - 11:14 AM.