‘Give the earth back to the animals. They deserve it infinitely more than we do.’ – Columbine Shooter
21 August 2018
At one point in our lives, we’ve all heard someone say, ‘the world would be better off without humans.’ Maybe you agreed with the sentiment; maybe you were the one who said it. Regardless, the idea appears to come from good intentions, which is probably why it has endured for so long. It’s an assumption rooted in the truth that humanity is having a detrimental impact on the planet.
Indeed, our unsustainable existence, as it is now, may be damaging the world in a way that puts all of our fellow lifeforms at risk.
But the solution to this issue will never be the reduction of human effort or our ability to thrive on this planet. Merely entertaining the idea is wrong on a moral and logical level. While the thought may just be a hypothetical, we must realise that it’s a deeply dangerous one which promotes a nihilistic outlook.
It is unproductive. It is anti-human. It is simply not right to ruminate on the extinction of mankind for the ‘good’ of the world. If we want to get any closer to solving the issues facing us and our home, we need to squash this perspective right now. Humans are the only species on this earth that could possibly put it in danger, but we’re also the only ones who could save it from a disaster.
I’m not even sure where to begin with an idea like, ‘the world would be a better place if humans didn’t exist.’ On a surface level, those who espouse it may seem sharp and even selfless, as if they’d be willing to give away their life and the lives of everyone they’ve ever loved in order to protect flora and fauna.
Now, I’d hate to get overly philosophical, but there is a fundamental problem with any thought exercise which requires you to perceive a world in which you don’t exist—a world which can’t be perceived. Every concept ever hypothesised has come from human brain power and perception.
How would the world be ‘better’ without humans if ‘better’ is a human ideal? Perhaps more natural is what these people want, but why exactly is that better? What is the point of an ‘untouched’ coral reef or forest if its subjective beauty can’t be realised?
What proponents of this idea want is absolute equality between all things and beings, where nothing reaches the top of the food chain so nothing can dominate or preserve what is beneath it. Now that’s unnatural, pretending the world is a harmonious and peaceful place, to begin with.
When people say something along the lines of, ‘humans are the only animal that raises life to kill it,’ they’re pretending that a lion wouldn’t do the same to a gazelle if it could. We’re predators, and the key difference between us and other animals is that we can. We’re the most evolved species on the planet, and as a collective, we consume the most. The only problem now is that we might be consuming unsustainably, too much and too fast.
At its core, environmentalism is not a selfless endeavour. It is the pursuit of a better and cleaner world in the way we envision it, which ultimately makes for a better home for us. What’s good for our long-term survival and viability just happens to be good for other species and lifeforms as well. That’s why we should continue to develop sustainable technologies and industries that can replace the old ones and give us more time to realise our potential on this earth.
Before we can do that though, we need to convince more citizens and legislators of the need for sound environmental protection. This won’t happen if we continue to speculate on the supposed greatness of a world without humans, because frankly, that’s a nutty and villainous idea pulled straight out of a comic-book movie.
We’re not ‘destroying the world’ as some people might have you believe. We’re destroying our ability to see a long-term future on it. That’s an issue which affects humanity, not just the animals and plants which occupy the earth alongside us. Environmentalism is more than just feeling pity for other beings, it’s about protecting our own ability to survive on a planet we have so far thrived on.
To say something so reductionist like, ‘the world would be better off without us’ is to ignore mankind’s own status as a treasured form of life.