Human Exceptionalism

Yearning for Human Extinction

So much anti-humanism being expressed by people who live at a time of the greatest prosperity in history and who are members of the first moral species in the known history of the universe. The latest example of self-loathing concludes a book review written for Nature (no link) by one Chris D. Thomas, a biology professor at the University of York in the UK. Reviewing a book about the threats to our ecosystem, Thomas yearns for the end of the human race:

The geological perspective of Terra is bizarrely reassuring. Humans will presumably be gone within a few million years, perhaps sooner. If the past that [Michael] Novacek [the book’s author] describes is a guide to the future, global ecosystem processes will be restored some tens of thousands to a million years after our demise, and new forms of life over the ensuing millions of years will exploit the denuded planet we leave behind. Thirty million years on, things will be back to normal, albeit a very different ‘normal’ from before. It is good to be optimistic. The problem is living here in the meantime.

But “Normal” is the merciless tooth and claw environment of survival of the fittest. “Normal” is a world in which no creatures can appreciate the beauty and grandeur of their pristine biosphere. “Normal” is a pointless and meaningless existence in which creatures are born, eat, copulate, defecate, and then are killed violently or die of disease without the possibility of care or palliation.

Thomas, like others who see humans as blights on the beautiful planet–whether they know it or not–are nature worshipers. But what makes the Tetons or a beautiful coral island so amazing is our unique ability to feel awe. It took 1 billion years for a species to emerge–us–that is conscious and capable of “caring about the planet.” Indeed, if we go belly-up as a species and “paradise” returns, what difference will it make if if there is nobody around to appreciate it?

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