THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION
By Richard Davis
It is helpful to step back every once in awhile and try to look at the big picture. What we see when we look at the human species and the planet is not pretty.
Living organisms are programmed for survival. But the great paradox is that so many human activities are geared toward destruction. One of the most glaring example has to do with climate change.
There have always been naturalists and conservationists among us. I would consider them people who understand that our behavior has an effect on all other living matter around us. Their voices have been small and not very loud over the ages, yet they possess the knowledge that all of us need to help preserve the natural world that we live in. Humans have never given science the respect it is due and that attitude is proving destructive to everything we interact with.
In the 21st century it is not enough for there to be naturalists pointing the way because humans have become so arrogant and selfish that the only way they will move to change their behavior is if it effects their pocketbook or their selfish way of life.
Then along come people like Greta Thunberg who know that the only way people will listen to those who want to preserve the planet is to become in-your-face activists and use the worldwide media to get the message out.
Humans will never change their behavior because it is the right thing to do. We even have a significant part of the population that thinks we are not creating climate change and that we must continue to use more fossil fuels, drill for oil wherever we want and continue to do all of the stupid things we do to destroy the planet.
Humans should be at the top of the list of all of the species on the planet that should become extinct. Instead we are causing the extinction of many other species because we destroy habitats so that we can build more houses and more places to buy things and more places to build things that we don’t need for survival.
We may not be the strongest or the most fit species but we are surviving because of the sheer force of arrogance. No other species lives that way and I think it is just a matter of time before the species is no longer able to sustain itself on bad behavior. It is not clear how long that time frame might be. Will it be decades or millennia? Those of us alive today will probably not know the answer to that question.
Then there is the issue of disease among humans. A religious person might believe that smallpox, influenza as well as COVID are ways that God is trying to thin out our numbers when we do bad things to each other. My interpretation is more secular.
Diseases arise when there is a weakness in the human fabric. Although we are programmed for survival, there are always forces around us that want to make our survival less possible. The battle is always on and our ability to fight off disease is what helps preserve our species.
Plagues and pandemics have always been with us. Although we have become better at fighting disease, there are evolving diseases that continue to stay a few steps ahead of us. We only look at disease as an enemy to destroy and we fail to take a bigger lesson from invasion by bacteria and viruses.
We find ways to head off the march of disease by developing drugs and vaccines to save our lives. We do very little to reflect on the bad behavior that may be contributing to the forces that destroy the planet and our species. It may only be a matter of time before loss is greater than gain. It may be that we have already reached that point but our arrogance and short-sightedness are not allowing us to see the truth.
A belated thanks
I was really glad to see this article appear. In fact, had Richard not written it, I was going to! Not that it’s a cheerful topic, but it’s been much on my mind recently, the fate of nature and “the environment” which we share on this planet. The article’s conclusion, that we like magic bullet fixes but we don’t like looking into why these calamities — from new diseases to extreme weather — are happening in the first place, is spot on. Of course, to look into the reasons would require behavioral changes, and none of us including me, sadly, particularly want to make those changes if it means inconvenience to ourselves.
A big one for us is driving less, but then we need something at a store and off we go. It would take a lot of coordination to keep us from driving almost every day of the week, and then, we can’t afford an electric car, so here we are, contributing to the problem while at the same time complaining and worrying about it.
I do think that one important thing for all of us is to begin to regard nature as important, maybe even essention (the food chain and all). The mass extinction that is going on now is really alarming and depressing. Maybe it was part of nature’s plan that mankind destroy nature so we can remake it in our own image — with technology! But somehow I think that nature will have some surprises for us along the way, even if that is “her” intention. Which as you can tell, I highly doubt.
Thanks again for a timely piece.