To begin at the end, humankind has made a vocation of evicting other species.
Three separate times over the past month has biologist Jonas Salk been mentioned in talks I've watched online. One was made by author and environmentalist Derrick Jensen, another made by author and international adviser on education Ken Robinson, and the third by author and environmentalist Lierre Keith. Salk's quote reads: If all insects on Earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from Earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish."
Lierre Keith is highly critical of of agriculture, stating in her book, The Vegetarian Myth: "The truth is that agriculture is the most destructive thing humans have done to the planet, and more of the same won’t save us. The truth is that agriculture requires the wholesale destruction of entire ecosystems. The truth is also that life isn’t possible without death, that no matter what you eat, someone has to die to feed you." So why is agriculture destructive? Because, as she points out, in order to cultivate human-centric crops, we need to clear the land-base down to dirt, and completely fabricate the biosystem in our favor. What this does is marginalize everything that was once there, either killing it due to malnourishment, killing it due to competition, killing it due to improper climate, or simply reducing its numbers (endangering them). Creating agriculture inadvertently caused an evolutionary shift in plants and animals, because the food we harvested for ourselves was also food for bugs and soil microbes, causing a shifting and stretching of natural organic habitats. Just like we never needed toilet paper before inventing toilets, we never needed pesticides before inventing agriculture.
Conservationists theorize that since the dinosaurs, more plant and animal species have been driven to extinction faster than new species can evolve, thanks to destruction of natural habitats, hunting, spread of disease, spread of alien predators, and climate change. Granted, it's difficult to isolate hard evidence showing exact rate of extinction across existent species,' however observable variables like habitat loss/destruction (via dams, malls, cities, oil refineries), climate change, and overall expansion of the human race support the case that plants and animals are being evicted and disappearing because they have no viable place to emigrate.
I watched an interesting Ted talk last night by Rose George named Inside the Shipping Industry, stating that although shipping giant Maersk is much less known than tech giant Microsoft, they have similar revenues. This simply boils down to the shipping industry getting away with maltreating its workers and the environment on a much wider level. As such, they're allowed to use very poor quality fuel--just slightly better quality than asphalt--because it's cheap and there's no humans around to complain about the pitch-black exhaust. Further, the underwater sounds produced by transnational shipping vessels project as far as whale mating songs--complicating the process--but that's allowed because there's no humans around to complain about the noise. Rose calls it "audible pollution," and she's on-point. Marine life is being stressed by manmade titans of the ocean, and that's not limited to whales. Evicting whales is as difficult as evicting coyotes; how far from their natural habitat can you move them, until they die off?
Whether it's Jensen, George, Salk, Robinson, or any other person willing to put humans on par with the rest of nature, nature is constantly demonstrating how and when civilization pushes too far. But there's no way to see that evidence if we only view the world through what we produce, rather than what we consume. We consume salmon habitats when we dam rivers, we consume bear habitats when we build mines, and we consume underwater habitats through trolling the ocean with lumbering, smoke-breathing giants. Salk's statement was chilling; nature would certain flourish shortly after our extinction because no longer would the Great Evictor be around.
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