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article imageHumanity: A Species Without Purpose

By bulshoy     Nov 15, 2006 in Lifestyle
It seems like every species on Earth has a niche to fill. What about humanity? What is our purpose?
During the first week of May, I was dismayed to find that the neighbour’s Doberman relieved itself on the sidewalk in front of my house. Now I hate dog feces as much as the next person, but since it is biodegradable, I prefer it to other types of litter. I decided to leave it there to see how long it would take the steaming pile to become a part of mother Earth once again. Within moments, flies had descended on the pile. These were followed by crawling insects. No doubt a variety of microscopic life also decided to get a free lunch off of this mess. As of today, what was once a steaming pile has been reduced to nothing more than a small amount of gray dirt. It took Mother Nature’s insect garbage men less than a month to take care of the mess.
Normally, I curse flies for being pests. Ditto for beetles, larvae and microscopic bacteria. For the month of May, however, I was able to watch as these annoying creatures did the job for which they were seemingly created. They, in turn, will be eaten by larger creatures, until the creature at the top of the chain dies, only to be eaten by our annoying friends again. In fact, every creature on Earth serves a similar purpose as a vital part of a food chain. Every creature, that is, except one.
How does humanity fit in to the complex system that is planet Earth? What part do we play in the grand scheme of things? Well, we reproduce. We’re very good at that. In the short amount of time that humanity has existed, we have spread to all four corners of the Earth. There are few places left that are untouched by people. Since we are at the very top of the food chain, there are no predators to keep us in check. It seems as if we kill each other a lot, but still we expand. We are even infringing on the territory of other creatures, pushing them into the increasingly small areas where we have not yet expanded to. Unless we try to control our fondness for reproducing, these other creatures will have nowhere else to go. Yes, people are very good at reproducing.
If that wasn’t bad enough, we also have another talent. We consume. Boy, do we consume. Humans tear up the Earth, mow down the trees, divert rivers and strain the life from the seas, all to feed our insatiable hunger for food and construction materials. What do we give back to the Earth? Bland concrete monoliths, shiny glass towers, and a never-ending flow of garbage. Mother Nature’s garbage men do not know how to deal with most of our waste, so it festers, either in the oceans or buried in the ground, where we don’t have to see it. Yes, we consume the Earth’s bounty faster than it can be replenished.
So, it seems as if every creature on Earth serves every other creature in some way, directly or indirectly. Every creature except humans. So what is the purpose of humanity? What role do we fill? Perhaps more importantly, how long can humanity survive without giving something back to the Earth? If we continue to expand and consume at this rate, there will be little left on Earth to give back to.
People like to think of themselves as the most advanced, intelligent species on Earth. But are we the most important? Not even close. If every human dropped dead tomorrow, the planet would likely let out a huge sigh of relief. We would not be missed at all. Next time you see annoying flies descending on dog leavings, remember how important they are, and how important we aren’t.
More about Climate, Warming, Ozone, Kyoto, Ecosystem
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