Do Humans Matter?

24 Oct

Depends on your perspective..

The History of Earth As A Clock

Source: UW-Geoscience

100 Responses to “Do Humans Matter?”

  1. Tanner Christensen October 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    Looking at the clock, what happens to humans next (in the next hundreds of thousands of years) can help answer the question more than anything. Great representation of the timeline though, very fun.

    • Ron Tadle October 31, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

      Next to humans? Robot Era.

    • Ouri Akkab November 2, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

      Look up the Singularity, and Ray Kurzweil if you want some crazy ideas on how the future could turn out.

      • CDit November 14, 2011 at 3:28 am #

        Agreed – a fascinating book and documentary.

      • Kate December 4, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

        Slightly scary too! It made me feel like it’s inevitable.

        • Anders January 9, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

          Oh, but it kinda is inevitable. The way we learn new technologies and the selfish mind of humans… There’s no doubt that we will soon destroy our own race. Sure, it’s possible to prevent it, but look at how badly the global crises are handled. We really don’t care about our future as long as we get some money and maybe even fame.

          • dwindle January 26, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

            you watch too much tv.

          • Nemon April 9, 2012 at 2:21 am #

            Actually is inevitable….not because of the human behaviour or because our limitless crave for power and acknowledge……it is inevitable, because of the natural and universal law of impermanence….nothing is permanent nothing in the universe is for ever…..not the humans or the earth o the universe itself… what really matters is what are we going to do with the time that has been given to us….thats the real question…

          • Sarthak March 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

            There is a simple solution to all these. Subordinate Western Ideals to Eastern Ideals or in more neutral terms technology to moral living. Technology built with Western hands, full of naked ambition & intent to dominate, has naturally taken the devilish course. Whatever we are is product of our thoughts. If we can change our minds we surely can avoid the sorry fate you are referring to.

          • anthony May 14, 2013 at 12:11 am #

            Is it inevitable? Who are you to assert the inevitability of any possibility of how the future is going to turn out. None of us have any firsthand experience with the events of the future.

    • Ben January 10, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

      Given the 200 million years between the beginning of dinosaurs and humans (1 hr on the clock), I don’t think the a few hundred thousand years is going to change the timeline’s appearance much.

      • Owled February 5, 2012 at 5:45 am #

        1 hr = 200 million years? Thought the Big Bang was 13700000000 year ago.
        You mean 570833333 years by any chance?

        • Tmouth February 21, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

          The earth is around 4.54 billion years old which makes an hour on this timeline equate to 190 million years. The big bang is irrelevant.

    • D. Jod July 22, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

      Do Humans matter? Well, did Dinosaurs matter? Do Jellyfish matter? We do not matter more or less than ANY other creature to have lived on Earth. We are all steps, we are all rungs on a ladder. Whether we die or evolve, we are simply a few brief clicks on a cosmic stopwatch.
      We are not the first species who would hunt or kill other species to extinction, we ARE, however, the first to have the capability to feel bad about it or to prevent it. In fact, the idea of conservation is an extremely recent idea; from the 19th century to the dawn of our existence, the thought of protecting the survival of another species was incomprehensible. Killing is part of the nature of ALL animal life on earth. COMPASSION is a concept only available to Humans. Be that as it may, we are still only flesh and blood. We are still only terrestrial. We are a part of Earth, as much as any ancient or future life form, and equally important AND unimportant.
      All of the ruin we have caused in our tiny blip of a nanosecond of Universal history could be erased in an even smaller blip by Earth’s natural resources. Cities are easily leveled by erosion, plant overgrowth and a lack of Human maintenance. The atmosphere will heal itself or adjust accordingly, and life will adapt and evolve until ANOTHER species attains Sapien level sentience, by which point all traces of our civilizations will again be pebbles and dust.

      • Elizabeth August 3, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

        Well said.

      • will August 10, 2012 at 12:00 am #

        It could be argued that compassion is a mammalian (bird?) concept since many mammals live in social groups.

      • gggraan September 26, 2012 at 9:38 am #

        have you ever owned a dog?

      • Sam July 31, 2013 at 2:38 am #

        Do humans matter? Do dinosaurs?

        Hmmm – did dinosaurs create such havoc as to change their environment SO radically that it became impossible for some species to exist and then threaten the entire biosphere with destruction?

        I don’t think they did.

        I think when an organism occurs that can devastate ALL life on Earth, you could say that species mattered.

        It also says that species should be eradicated and for Nature to start over with an experiment into intelligence and sentience.

  2. Tom October 28, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    Man, life was a serious procrastinator.

    • Boo Radley January 15, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

      Non-linear development.

    • David March 26, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

      No. Life is a magical unfolding and complexification of the Universe. Procrastination is a human mental construct reflective of its infancy in the industrial revolution. Procrastination does not exist in nature.

      • Mike May 10, 2012 at 1:21 am #

        looks like you have no sense of humor or sarcasm… DERP

      • offplanet August 16, 2012 at 10:02 am #

        So, humans aren’t natural?

  3. La-Vaughn October 28, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

    Great chart =D. It really shows another perspective on the importance (or lack thereof) of humans. One thing that would improve an already good graphic would be a scale (such as 1 minute = xxx years). This way, viewers could think about and appreciate the significant amount of time that each took to develop…and also the relative novelty of that which we call humans.

    • ocadd July 1, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

      Lack thereof? If you follow the progression, as mentioned here, it is an exponential growth. Not just in population but in complexity. Meaning that Humans being at the top are the most complex and have the greatest power to change. We are literally on the verge of being able to manipulate or even start a new clock around 04.00. Give it another hundred years and that will be child’s play. The only thing importance has to do with a timeline is the fact that before humans, evolution had to work through chemistry and then to biology. Now it’s working based on self-understanding models.

  4. Gryphonisle October 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    Do humans matter? We arrived that late in the scheme of things and we’ve done this amount of damage? Yikes!

    • pajdvdydiwbdjdjchghfhdisjak February 28, 2012 at 2:18 am #

      I’ve read something somewhere or seen a video and some guy said it, that the human kingdom is most closely related to that of the fungi kingdom… So maybe this has something to do with th fact of what you pointed out.

    • Tommi June 26, 2012 at 6:17 am #

      I have a feeling that humanity equals a virus infection. We’re programmed to multiply and use up the resources of our host, until we inevitably kill it.

  5. Brandon October 31, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

    The age of the earth is approximately 4.54 billion years, so your scale is:

    1 second = 52,546 years

    • Slick October 31, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

      Humans have not been on Earth for over four million years.

      • brad November 1, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

        he said earth not humans.

        • me November 3, 2011 at 8:56 am #

          according to the chart, humans have been around for 77 seconds which would equate to 4 million 46 thousand and 42 years based on these numbers.

          • butt December 8, 2011 at 2:34 am #

            Depends on your definition of human. The genus homo has been around for quite a while

          • BTN December 10, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

            Look at it again. According to the chart humans have been around for less than two seconds.

          • Boo Radley January 15, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

            @BTN Less than 2 minutes.
            @Slick Quite right
            Wikipedia – Homo is the genus that includes modern humans and species closely related to them. The genus is estimated to be about 2.3 to 2.4 million years old.

  6. Andrew November 1, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    Scientific progress is moving at such a breakneck pace, that if we don’t destroy ourselves, we’ll be capable of truly awesome things beyond our current comprehension.

    • Bob Loosemore January 2, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

      I doubt that progress will ever move beyond our present ability to comprehend, but much knowledge is even now beyond the ability of most, perhaps ALL individuals to comprehend in the sense of the present meaning of comprehend. Is the knowledge of the mathematics involved in explaining how atoms or galaxies actually work the same as comprehending how they work?

  7. Oz November 1, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    @Slick: No, but between four to eight million years ago was the last common ancestor between humans and the rest of the great apes. If you want to talk about anatomically modern humans, that’s 200000 years, which would be just under 4 seconds on this clock.

  8. Bozo November 2, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

    I love the diagram – it puts a perspective on a timescale so hard to conceive of for individuals who, by this reckoning, live, love and die in a matter of milliseconds.

    I do think it conveys a slightly false impression to have the present be represented by midnight, though. Wouldn’t it be more realistic (or optimistic), to extend the scale to the eventual death of the planet. If we take this to be around the time the Sun has finished burning its fuel, we’ve still got a good 5bn years ahead of us.

    Without a shred of evidence with which to back this up, I instinctively feel that humanity is still on the start of its journey, not nearing the end of the day.

    • Doc November 8, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

      Agreed! Look what algae started, with just four hours. Redraw the clock to 10bn years and set goals.

      • ben March 28, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

        Oil will be gone very soon, food after that, then fresh water. Our planet is going to be useless to the human race if we continue at (let alone the quantum acceleration of the last sixty years, imagine that result (ie. today) continuing for sixty more years) the ludicrously unsustainable rate and to treat ourselves the way we have for as long as we have, and blindly and aggressively as we have. It does not add up; I have therefore come to the conclusion that without dramatic intervention (wiping out a good 50% at least with war or virus and managing population growth and the way we treat the environment) we will just be building our own inescapable tomb into which we all cram and feud and die. I do not believe humanity is intelligent enough to pull that off… which is fine, because there are those who take comfort in the fact that they will die and won’t need to worry, and they will keep doing so until they can’t. Maybe we sucked the power from the clock’s batteries, the tick has tocked and instead of a new day dawning (or night as the clock would have it,) time stands still for humanity, with the awesome battery power in our present hands we can collectively die off under its pressure or use it to propel humanity to the stars where we could be riding space aliens at midnight.

        • kris211 May 10, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

          earth is only a starting point

    • Zack November 8, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

      Hear hear!

    • Harlan November 29, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

      Yeah, the chart as it is is OK, but we aren’t at almost midnight, folks. We are just beginning (unless you are naive enough to have tasted of the global warming Kool-Aid, the nuclear brew, or the population explosion soda). Have a little faith in human spirit and our ability to solve the problems we’ve created. The fat lady hasn’t even been born!

      • Anders January 9, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

        I like the subjective comment in an objective conversation…
        Though, technologically speaking we have just started to accelerate our technological knowledge, we are on the brink of the armegeddon, which we will caused ourselves.
        I would bet you that Humans won’t get anywhere near the 5bn years it will take our sun to empty its fuel… And if we do, we would probably own half the our galaxy atleast by then. Matters little as it’s an empty bet, though.

  9. blahblahblah November 3, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

    the earth is more like 13.73 Billion years old for the record…probably still not quite right, but closer then those 5B estimates…

    • Zack November 8, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

      That’s the estimate for the age of the Universe, not the age of the Earth.

  10. blahblahblah November 3, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

    oops…i meant the universe not earth..

  11. Sin November 5, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    Telescopic evolution

    • Gaz November 8, 2011 at 7:33 am #

      Surely it’s a 12 hour clock

      • Harlan November 29, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

        Good point, Gaz!

  12. straw-straw November 8, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    so little time here, so many problem’s

  13. Zack November 8, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

    Dig the chart although similar things exist (Carl Sagan’s calendar for instance). Though the visual aid has strong implications, I can reply to the question, “do humans matter?” with an emphatic “Hell yes” for myriad reasons. For one thing, the concept of importance is largely a part of perspective. And since we are all humans I think I can safely say that we matter (at least to other humans).

    While I do appreciate the conciseness and poignancy of this type of graphic I feel as though it’s a bit of a cheat. Consider all that we know of the past and how little that we know of the future.

    Also, If one were to create a graphic based on the timescale of galactic evolution, one could just as easily ask, “Does the Earth matter?”.

    • Denton November 23, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

      Does it? I mean we don’t really do anything beneficial for the rest of the galaxy or universe. Some other planets out there might actually be making space a better place.

      • Jason November 29, 2011 at 3:20 pm #


  14. bish bosh November 11, 2011 at 11:29 pm #


    • Oniönhead September 4, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

      Up the irons!

  15. Donne Milano December 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    Great idea for a post.Thank you!

  16. Mark Drapeau December 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    The missing dimension in this graph is the “importance” of say, Trilobites vs. Humans. Arguably, humans have had a greater impact, and have the potential to have a greater impact. So while humans haven’t been around long, we have (say) mined resources from under the groud, affected our atmosphere, and bred at a high rate. So the graph doesn’t really answer well the question posed in the title.

  17. Change Parker December 31, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    I guess I am bothered by the concept of the 24 hours. When does it become the next day? That is the question: assuming some, if not all humans, are still around, what will humans be like then

  18. edward p December 31, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

    This gives a false sense of time because you place humans towards what we’d see as ‘the end.’ You have no way of knowing how much longer earth will be around. 10 years? 80? 5000? 10 million? 50 million?

    If there is an astronomical amount of time left, everything on this clock could be compressed into the first 1/2 second on this clock.

    Its a silly graphic.

    • Solismundi February 7, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

      Actually it’s not really meant to give a sense of time. It is meant to show how little time we have spent on Earth as a species. It is in no way predictive, and I don’t see why that connection was made.

  19. Peter Walworth January 2, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    A really neat and informative diagram – but why is it in a silty 12 hour clock, even though it states 24 hour clock?

  20. Steve January 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    The clock visual metaphor is ridiculous. Was this put together by a Mayan?

    As for the implication that things don’t matter if they occur at the last second, tell yourself that breaking doesn’t matter the next time you almost run a red light.

  21. Vishal Soni January 3, 2012 at 2:41 am #

    In this regards, humans have a capacity to develop their own Earth(s) on other planets, and do it at much faster rate than this one. And this is because of one distinct factor they have……Intelligence.
    The curiosity of humans have resulted into many astonishing outputs (this diagram for instance), and this makes them the entity that matters the most in this entire timeline.

    • louis January 26, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

      “The curiosity of humans have resulted” tense agreement.

  22. Jane January 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    And imagine that! All of that was prepared by God just for our arrival! Wow, does He love us!

    • Mrmiddle May 7, 2012 at 8:10 am #

      Such a deluded statement. Are you joking?

  23. Pete G. January 4, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    Scientists overwhelmingly believe that human action is a major cause of global warming. They also believe that, unless slowed or reversed, this warming will have catastrophic results by the end of the millennium. If you don’t believe that science, why do you believe the science represented by the chart?

  24. Greg vP January 6, 2012 at 2:34 am #

    “Taken collectively, we humans and our animals are more than twice as heavy as all other vertebrates on the planet combined. In fact, humans alone are 8 times as heavy as all the wild vertebrates on land.”

    “A mass extinction is a world-changing event. In order to qualify, 75 percent of species must be eliminated within a “short” period (between a few hundred thousand years to a few million years).

    This has only happened five times in history, and according to researchers at the University of California, Berkley, it’s happening a sixth time. This time, they claim humans are to blame.”

    Humans matter.

  25. ThylacineSport January 17, 2012 at 12:29 am #

    Love the chart although I don’t think the question makes much as sense as asked. Matters to whom is what I’d like to know. We certainly matter to each other and I’m not sure anything ‘matters’ on a cosmological scale.

  26. Shekar Kala January 25, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    Human perspective is limited to the available knowledge and is bound to change. Subject to this limitation we are most evolved ones from the time life has got originated in earth and hence we do matter as much as any living things matter and it matters that we think and reflect and still try to unfold mysteries of the universe.

  27. Mtnmama January 30, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    Montessori schools use this clock (google Montessori Clock of Eras) in their classrooms to help 6-9 year olds conceptualize the time-line before humans and after. A clock is used because it is a familiar measurement of time that children can understand. It is not representing the future as black…that is represents the Haydean (sp) era before there was life – when the planet was still volatile.

  28. Moola March 3, 2012 at 9:20 am #

    and we are just here a little more than one second, kinda puts things into prospective.

  29. Luke March 5, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    obviously, sex matters. It has been happening since 9:00, Earth time.

  30. Alvaro Tieman March 9, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    Economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement. Economic wounds should be healed through the action of the cells of the economic body – the producers and consumers themselves.
    The incestuous relationship between government and big business thrives at nighttime.

  31. Dean March 16, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

    what the hell does time lapse have to do with an already human-percieved notion of importance?

  32. thinker April 20, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

    Matter? As in have meaning? As in humans are causing global warming/ So what? We probably are–why does that matter? It will destroy the earth–why does that matter? It will destroy many species–why does that matter? Look if you all are like many of us and see nature or evolution or what ever you all want to call it as THE way it is–then be consistent and accept that none it matters and we all are just doing whatever we are doing because we can’t really do anything else. As soon as you all start whining about changing things you all go against the idea that evolution is THE way it is. So just go with the flow! When it is over, (for you, for me, for all of us)–it is over.

    • Nick May 8, 2012 at 10:24 am #

      Hey, Thinker – Try doing a little bit more THINKING. Humans have more control over their lives then you believe. ‘We are just doing whatever we are doing because we can’t really do anything else’ Excuse me, but are you in grade 2? We have CHOSEN over the past few hundred years to exploit the Earth’s resources at an almost incomprehensible rate. We drive species to extinction every DAY. That’s just not right. This has been a choice, not simply what we have had to do to survive. The human population has grown so much that the earth simply cannot contain it, with the ways in which we choose to use and abuse the Earth’s ecological systems. WE are destroying the planet that created us, and hopefully, once we have killed ourselves and the rest of the species on our planet, humans never evolve again.

      Just going with the flow is the worst thing we could do. You are a product of society, and should get educated like 5 billion other morons currently driving the Earth to the brink.

  33. Luciana April 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    This is very similar to the Mayan Calendar “the long run cycle” fascinating!

  34. Abbi May 1, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    Its amazing the damage we have done in just over a minute.

  35. Divinity June 23, 2012 at 7:34 am #

    And just around the corner awaits the game change of life. When the clock of truth strikes 12.00 and the alternating layers of reality and time merge.

    Humans have lived like ants in a glass ant farm, blissfully unaware of what is outside the confines of their sheltered and limited world. Even when truth was revealed from outside, millennia ago (as depicted in ancient texts and art) people managed to miss the point of that and twist it into various religions.

    The final card to shift human consciousness to completely change and see the BIGGER picture of what life is and means….is new contact from an outside source, confirmed and not denied by the corrupt cabal we’ve had to endure for so long.

    When we do away with petty fame, money, power, war, edited and misinterpreted history, old had fossil fuels etc etc….then we will see the bigger picture rather than focusing on an inane thumbnail of of concept.

    Reality is in many layers and this is not the only dimension where intelligence exists. When a hole is made through the layers of reality you will peak through and see the truth behind the curtain of life as you know it.

    The singularity is most importantly, the combining and enlightenment of human consciousness. That is about to happen.

    • gale martin July 7, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      According to most scientists, humans have been asking the same question for 5000 years “is this all there is?”

  36. JACKDON July 27, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    When I was a child I told my mother that it didn’t matter what I did or thought because I was just one person(and nobody liked me anyway).Don’t remember what was troubling me but I saw the problem as an impossible defeat. My mother looked me in the eye and said something that I have never forgotten.”Some people look at an empty bucket as impossible to fill,however, if it’s important to you,than you must fill it yourself”. “What does that have to do with anything?” I squealed through tears. She replied,”Remember,it only takes one drop at a time to fill that bucket and sometimes,you must be the drop”.BIGOTRY,RELIGIOUS FANATICS,POLLUTION,WARS,FAMINE,CHILD ABUSE

  37. Jason August 5, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

    Very cool. Good job!

  38. Gleno August 11, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    If you really wanted to make this accurate, you’d draw 7 days, with creation taking place on the first six and the seventh being a period of rest.

  39. Will MacLeod September 25, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    Matter is a good word in this case meaning to have standing in a sense that is a purely human generated idea…all perceived of course is in a human sensibility…do whales ponder the meaning of life??..human not sensitive to whale sensibilities nor gorilla nor skink…we matter as humans to other humans and their sensibilities..we matter in our insensible behavior..we may cease to exist..then nothing will matter because to matter humans need to exist…what is is a mess…NO MATTER

  40. Faja January 18, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    You should make a scale to make the description much more accurate for us.

  41. Michael Bradham December 9, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    Humans do matter. Humans move land around that changes the weather, dig up dead stuff and burn it into the atmosphere. I think meditation can lead to realizations similar to these. Heres to 20 Days Meditation for New Year:

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