It is OK for us humans to be here

There is an even more fundamental faith-based question underlying the whole climate issue. That is – “is it OK for the human race to exist on earth at all?”

The science of ecology tells us that every one of the millions of living species on earth, change the earth in some way. The way all those changes fit together results in the biosphere, whose effect on earth is a good one, as seen in the Gaia effect by which life modifies the earth system to the mutual advantage of both.

But the human species is different, is it not? We have covered one percent or so of the earth’s surface with our built structures. Farmland accounts for a larger percentage. We have altered the atmosphere and climate, and driven some species to extinction, like to dodo and Tasmanian wolf.

We humans are, surely, an exception? The living species that is bad, not good for the earth. Should we be here at all? Was biting into that apple of evolved intelligence and big brains, such a great sin and a great fall for the whole earth?

Well no. We are a species like any other – not gods or angels or demons. Just apes with oddly big heads. And believe it or not, the laws of ecology and Gaia by which we interact with the biosphere are the same as for any other living species. Our existence has not changed any law of nature. The fine structure constant of the electron is still about 1/137.

The human race is here to stay. We will likely remain a dominant species on the earth for millions, maybe hundreds of millions of years. Already other living species and whole ecosystems are adapting to our presence to mutual advantage – as life always does. Birds and bats will learn to dodge wind turbines. Whales will still communicate despite ships and offshore turbines. Some animals are losing fear of humans and even asking them for help occasionally.

Farmed animals like cows, sheep, even fish, and also pets and laboratory animals show the biosphere to be as good as ever at exploiting and filling new niche opportunities for life. This is not an abomination. These animals don’t need to be “liberated” from this commensal life they have found. 

It’s all actually OK. Believe it or not. It’s OK for us humans to be here.

5 responses to “It is OK for us humans to be here”

  1. Farmed animals have found a “commensal life?” Is that a joke? The vast majority are raised on industrial farms, lead miserable lives and are slaughtered purely for human use.

    commensal: (Biology) (of two different species of plant or animal) living in close association, such that one species benefits without harming the other

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    1. In evolutionary terms, farmed animals are extremely successful. It is the fate of almost all herbivores to be killed and eaten by one preditor or another. Preditors, on the other hand, tend to die of starvation.

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      1. I agree – our pets, farm and lab animals have done very well for themselves. Adapted to the Anthropocene.

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    2. David
      They live, in large numbers.
      That is the primary fact.
      As Joost Zweegers put it, “Life is all”.
      How they feel about their life – and your Beatrix Potter anthropomorphism of their feelings – is subjective and speculative and I’m surprised to see you going there.

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  2. “Better a live dog 🐕 than a dead lion 🦁 “

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