“I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet.”
It’s a disturbing image – and one that might be difficult to refute these days. Conventional wisdom suggests that we’ve entered a tipping point on the environment. Our culture of modern conveniences, technologies, and machines has knocked the natural order of the planet, well, into orbit.
Our sins are many from increases in industrial farming (requiring chemical fertilizers, ever-increasingly potent pesticides, and overuse of antibiotics on cattle and chickens) to an overabundance of smog-clogging automobiles causing air pollution and ozone depletion.
But a careful review of the mounting evidence seems to show that we aren’t heading for a major crisis – but that we’re already knee-deep in one. Just take a glimpse at the recent news headlines:
If these four examples don’t convince you that human activity is changing the environment then perhaps reports from the World Health Organization that global cancer rates may increase by as much as 50 percent by 2020 will.
Yet, the conversation on how to turn back – to save what we haven’t yet destroyed – continues to be a backburner issue, especially in the United States.
Perhaps one reason is our arrogance and unfounded confidence that the technologies that brought us to this precipice will ultimately save us. This is ironic since these technologies (automobiles, air conditioning, plastics, radiation, etc.) are what have led us here in the first place.
We have a tendency to embrace new technologies before we fully understand how they will affect us in the long term. Isn’t that why we painted our homes with lead paint and used asbestos to insulate our pipes? Recently, we’re learning that plastic water bottles – already owned by most American families – may increase the risk of cancer.
As Agent Smith might have observed, human beings think they can improve Mother Nature. We believe that we can do it better – despite a history of shoddy results.
That’s why we end in situations like this one: We force feed our cattle corn – when they evolved to eat grass. By forcing them to eat corn, the majority become sick, so we treat the corn with antibiotics to keep the cattle alive and healthy long enough to slaughter them. As a result, we dine on sick, drug-infused beef while overusing antibiotics to a point that they’re becoming less effective.
Or why we end up pouring tons of chemicals on our lawns – forcing grass to grow lush and green in environments unnatural to the species. Believe it or not, but Arizona isn’t supposed to have grass. It’s a desert.
It’s time for the environment to become a top and urgent priority in the
Read some of our other essays:How Leaf Blowers Are Causing Too Much Air Pollution