Has there ever been another species that actually willfully destroyed its own environment?
One thinks of termites, but they tend to trash our wooden dwellings, not the environment as a whole. Left to their own devices they create marvelous cities—some with air conditioning that doesn’t corrode the ozone layer! And other critters, aardvarks, numbats, echidnas and pangolins to name a few, dine on them.
Elephants maybe? Not really, they drastically alter their environment to be sure, creating an entirely new ecosystem in the process, as do beavers. Lots of other species prosper in the process.
Perhaps we need to look smaller, at microbes that weaken and destroy their hosts—silly buggers. But these clever little annoyances manage to move from host to host, so that example becomes marginalized. What a terrible thing it would be to discover the god by whom and in whose image we imagine ourselves created is really a rogue virus, some nasty strain of influenza or hiv!
Most carnivores, at least those we can see with our naked eye, tend not to exterminate their prey stock, going so far as to limit their own reproduction during droughts and other disasters likely to thin the herds of prey animals. Why can’t we follow their example?
Perhaps it is because we are self-aware, whatever the hell that means. It sounds like a euphemism for narcissistic and chronically unaware to me. Of course the opposable thumbs add to the carnage. As a friend of mine noted when I mentioned raccoons have them as well, “see how much trouble they cause.”
Religion has led us to the brink of, as another friend put it, my invisible friend is bigger than your invisible friend, so let’s not go there. On the plus side, it can be said, religion is occasionally an excuse for good behavior, but, sadly, not often enough. Pray for sanity.
Hopefully something will hunt us to extinction before we manage to ruin things for everybody else—unless, of course, there is something to this Mayan calendar prediction. In which case, what we are witnessing, if we are looking, is our fellow top-of-the-pecking-order primates in total panic mode, leaping about chattering senselessly, feeling the winds of change without the capacity to either analyze or amend their fate.
Let’s hope so. If not, what we are doing is completely inexcusable, utterly unforgivable, and quite possibly the stupidest willful act ever perpetrated by a biological entity upon this wildly beautiful dangerous place.