Humans cause ecological harm to Earth

We live in a time when the individual has true power: The voice of even one person can be enough to change the world. It seems this power is intoxicating. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see people campaigning for this or that cause.

One such group, environmentalists, has come to prominence in recent decades. These “”environmentalists”” work under the belief that humans are ruining the delicate balance of nature that allows life to flourish on Earth. We are consuming our resources too fast and polluting too much. It is their belief that only by cutting back on industry and technological development, only by returning to nature, will we be able to survive the damage that we have done. One of their favorite slogans is “”Save the Earth.””

This simply does not apply. We are no more capable of destroying our planet than an ant is capable of pulling down a mountain.

Life is not a fragile thing that needs protection. Even in the sunless ocean depths, the sulfurous ash of volcanoes, and the frigid ice of the poles, it survives, and indeed flourishes. We can nuke every inch of the Earth, and still, life will survive. One day, maybe a billion years from that point, life will once more walk the Earth.

But it will not be us. We may be unable to destroy the Earth, but we are now quite capable of destroying ourselves. The Earth is in no need of saving, but we are. Perhaps the environmentalists should change their war cry to “”Save the humans.”” It is more accurate, and certainly more likely to grab attention.

I am sure few will disagree with me when I say that keeping the human species alive is a good thing. Unfortunately, most environmentalists are not merely intent on preserving human life when they speak of saving the planet. They have a specific means of accomplishing this, and there are few alternatives acceptable to them.

What they seek is to bring Earth closer to the time before human civilization spread across the globe, when forests covered the land and all varieties of species roamed the planet.

Quite often, actions toward that end do not promote human welfare. For example, despite the fact that nuclear power does not pump pollutants into the air, the environmentalist movement has opposed it at every turn. The oft-cited reason for opposing nuclear power is the questionable safety of the power plants, yet even without mounds of scientific evidence proving otherwise, statistical information alone shows nuclear plants are far safer than, say, driving. There are over 100 nuclear power plants in the United States, the youngest being over 20 years old. Yet in the 40 years since nuclear power became available, there has been one accident in the United States, and it was not even serious enough to cause loss of life.

Similarly, political opposition shut down the space program, which could have once moved heavy industry off Earth. Today, space shuttle technology is over 30 years old and hideously expensive, yet the government is unable to gain the support to develop more efficient means of propulsion.

Environmentalists even object to genetically engineered crops, despite their potential to feed millions of starving people and to put to rest worries of worldwide famine (another popular environmentalist bogeyman). The reason: fears that genetically modified plants might replace natural varieties.

Most environmentalists believe in species preservation, and in protecting any and all species from extinction. While I personally agree with this ideal, I do not agree with the motivation behind it. There seems to be an underlying assumption that humans are the sole cause of extinctions, whereas species have been dying out billions of years before humans ever came along. In fact, we were not even around for the massive extinctions that have occurred periodically in Earth’s past.

I do not accept the concept of nature’s balance. I do not accept the implicit belief that nature nourishes life, that if we could just demolish all the works of man, the world would become a garden paradise.

Perhaps this air of benevolence is not too surprising considering most of us only see nature through beachside vacations and idyllic camping trips, the sites of which have long been tamed by human hands. We have forgotten rotting teeth, verminous hair, the terror of being hunted by beasts and the taste of rancid meat. Nature plays no favorites.

From geologic records we know that there is no such thing as a natural equilibrium. Over the millennia, the average global temperature has gone up and down numerous times, long before we came along with our cars, factories and farting cows.

There is nothing to stop an asteroid from crashing into the earth and killing us as it possibly did to the dinosaurs. It does not even take a killer asteroid to extinguish us — the fossil record shows a number of mass extinctions, and most of them were caused by nothing more spectacular than natural climate change. Species become extinct all the time, but we do not have any reason why we might be excluded from this rule.

We do not know of any such reason because there is none. If we are to avoid the fate of the dodo bird, then we must create that reason ourselves.

The only tool we have to work with is science. If we return to the trees, then we will be like other species, etching out a brief existence before becoming just another fossil memory.

But if we move forward, if we do not shackle ourselves with rootless doubts, if we do not blow ourselves up or eat up our entire food supply, we will become something more.

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