Why Does Humanity Destroy Its Own Home?
There are several likely answers to this question, but one good answer is this: we don’t know what we are. Because of our lack of self-identity, we have become removed from the natural world. In doing so, we consign Nature to something at a lower level from ourselves, and that turns Nature into something easy to exploit and destroy because it seems remote to us, and therefore expendable. This is exactly what is happening today: the global devastation of species and ecosystems at an ever-increasing rate.
In my debut novel, Shadowshine: An Animal Adventure (Guernica World Editions 2019), I call the animal characters of the story the "forest-folk." They have an enduring message for their readers: humanity has an identity crisis in the face of Nature. Humans do not know what they are.
The forest-folk are spot-on in pointing out humanity's identity crisis. It seems obvious that tribalism and greed are also major contributors, and there is reasonable evidence that these two characteristics are hardwired into our genome.
As I’ve said before in my blog and at readings of my book, we must ask ourselves these questions: does our species really even have a genuinely stand-alone, high intellectual capacity in the first place? Would then such a species develop an advanced technology only to turn around and use it to destroy itself? Are we simply not properly fashioned by our evolutionary biology to control ourselves?
Cosmologists, including Carl Sagan, for years have contemplated the question as to whether or why not technologically advanced species on other worlds are common. Might self-destruction be the universal common endpoint for the evolution of a high intellectual capacity? Will Homo sapiens be among the missing soon? For the first time in Earth's 4.5-billion-year history, our world is facing a global mass extinction event caused by a single species—humans.
Biologist E. O. Wilson supposes it has taken around 10 million years for the Earth to catch up with its evolutionary biology and species diversity after each of its past five mass extinction events.
That is not such a long time considering the very long existence of Earth’s biological engine. I take comfort in understanding that if our species cannot control itself enough to prevent a mass extinction event at least, Planet Earth and its fantastic family of life will live on without us.
Still, I see some hope in mitigating the disaster on the horizon as the movement to combat climate change is growing worldwide. Rescuing biodiversity will help in the mitigation of the effects of global warming, and the reverse is true. Combating global warming will do much to mitigate the tragic loss of biodiversity. We might, or might not, be intellectually capable of heading off the coming disaster. Still, we must do it, and we must be able to see it through to be able to live with ourselves, or even be able to sustain our own existence.
Children, such as inspiring climate activist Greta Thunberg, see this glaring fact. They are wise enough to call out the politicians bowing for their own gains to corporate greed. Children like Greta are not stupid. They keep up with the science that is telling them that their world is in trouble and crumbling before their eyes, as they watch their elders wither into a helpless state of apathy and excuses as they stare into the face of a massive global emergency. As reported by Leanna First-Arai in Sierra magazine, students at a Nashville protest sang this chant:
Mama, Mama can't you hear
The children screaming here and there?
Mama, Mama can't you see?
This is an emergency
Children are marking a path for the rest of us to follow.
Biodiversity advocate, author and retired medical doctor Johnny Armstrong lives with his wife Karen and Opal (canine companion) in a Nature Conservancy protected old-growth forest and woodland outside of Ruston, Louisiana. He's been actively restoring a woodland grassland ecosystem for the past thirteen years.
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