Last night, I was at a lecture by Kris van Koppen. While the topic of population growth and ecology was nice in essence, his view on things really bothered me. At some point, he said, for example, that he did not know of anyone having died of a loss of genetic diversity. Well, I know of whole species that have gone extinct for that exact reason. It’s really not all about us, you know.
I get it, it is easy to relate everything we do to ourselves. It is scary when something is directly threatening our own lifestyles. Of course, there is no shame in that. Everyone wants to live healthy and happy. Everyone wants the best for their family. But there is more than that.
We should not forget that we are not alone on this planet. The earth was not made for our sake. There are so many other animals and plants and one-celled organisms. They too have a right to live here. Sure, sometimes a species goes extinct. That is only natural and healthy. But letting species die because of our doing, we can’t let that happen. And if it does, by accident, happen to a few species, at least we should feel guilty about it and do our very best to prevent any such thing happening in the future.
Right now, we are causing a huge wave of extinction on earth. Every year, almost a thousand species die. That is not a normal number. It is because of our actions. And although we are taking some measures to preserve biodiversity, it is not yet enough. We have to realise what we are doing, all of us. Not just the big companies and policy-makers. Every single person should feel they are part of one big living world, that includes animals and plants, as well as other humans. If we have that understanding, then we can make a change. Then we can demand policies, protection schemes.
If we use so much of the earth’s resources, we should take our responsibility for the rest too. We have to stop thinking only about ourselves, and start feeling part of the bigger system.
Only then will be able to truly thrive as human civilisation.