As a species, humans make up less than 1% of the life on earth. And yet, our presence looms large over every corner of the planet and our actions impact heavily on every other life form. Our footprint is so massive that historians are considering renaming our time the ‘Age of Humans’, the anthropocene. Man as a species has been considerably successful especially since the last major ice age. We have become adept at mastering our environment and altering it as we see fit to suit our needs.
Sadly though, we have been poor and cruel masters. If the rest of the species on earth could give us their opinion, they would without a doubt recount horrific tales of slaughter, torture and destruction by us. If animals did have folklore, they would narrate of the golden age before the humans were everywhere. They would lament the curse of the upright apes who colonized the entire planet. Theirs would be a tale of woe, the story of their struggle to stay alive despite the countless threats to their existence posed by humankind.
Humans are egoistic and pretentious. We make up stories, myths and theories to convince ourselves that we are a special form of life and not just another manifestation of stardust like our fellow life forms here on earth. We make up imaginary beings in the sky to justify our actions. We create religions and philosophies that conveniently place us at the center of the universe to lie to ourselves how important we are.
It is ironic that an age which is arguably the most advanced in terms of human knowledge, technology and quality of life is also the most perilous for our fellow species. An eighth of the species on earth are at risk of extinction within the next one generation. If we are not actively killing them, we are simply making their habitat uninhabitable and less suitable for life. Our actions are careless. We continue to burn fossil fuels with the full knowledge that the carbon we are releasing contributes to making the earth hotter. We continue to manufacture, use and recklessly dispose off plastics knowing that they are a poison to the earth. We continue to encroach on and clear forests while knowing how desperately we need them to sequester the carbon and to control rain bearing winds. To an outside observer, it appears that we are on a global suicide mission, and we are determined that no species should outlive us.
It is time to change our relationship with nature and the environment. It is time that we stopped assuming we are the sole rightful inhabitants on earth with free reign to alter it as we fit. It is time we stopped valuing profits over life. It is time we take action to clean up our environment and do our best to reverse the damage our actions have caused the environment. We are not that different from the life we are destroying around us. We are just another manifestation of stardust, just like the worms and the birds. And when we destroy the earth, just like them, we will perish with it.