It Would be Much Better if Humans Didn’t Exist
There is no species on earth that affects the environment as negatively as humans do, there is also no species on earth that consumes as much as humans do, and no species on earth that kills as much as humans do… We have destroyed our planet so much that we have now entered the Anthropocene period, which is viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.
You can think of this ‘Earth without humans’ scenario in one of two ways:
1. If humans suddenly died out/disappeared
2. If humans never existed in the first place
If number 1 were ever to happen, billions of beings would die, for example pets, livestock, animals in captivity, etc. But this is the most realistic scenario, and so that’s the one I shall concentrate on throughout this article.
What would happen if humans died out?
A YouTube video created from National Geographic footage, and ‘Life After People’ footage, shows the timescale of events that would happen if humans were ever to disappear.
· Several Hours: Lights would shut off all around the world.
· 48 Hours: Nuclear power plants would switch to safety mode, and solar panels would become useless due to dust.
· 2–3 Days: Many tunnels around the world will become flooded as the pumps that protect them from underground water will not work without human maintenance.
· 10 Days: Pets locked indoors will begin to die of dehydration and starvation, as well as billions of farm animals.
· Months: All cooling water in nuclear power stations will have evaporated, causing disasters worse than Chernobyl and Fukushima. Many animals will die from cancer, however, the planet will recover fast.
· 1 Year: Satellites will fall from the sky.
· 25 Years: Most of the world will be covered in vegetation. Places like Dubai and Las Vegas will be covered in sand.
· 300 Years: Metal constructions, like the Eiffel tower, will start to break.
· 10,000 Years: Only large remains of human existence will be stone structures, like the Wall of China, and Mount Rushmore.
· 50 Million Years: Plastic bottles and broken glass will be the last traces of our civilisation.
· 100 Million Years: There will be hardly any evidence left of human existence.
Why would it be better?
Reverting to what I said in the beginning, we are essentially an invasive species, that takes all the natural resources and gives nothing back. Our greed, ignorance, and superiority complex has damaged the Earth; and what is worse is that we are rapidly growing in population. The world population is estimated to grow to about 9.7 billion in 2050, and many scientists believe that the Earth has a maximum capacity of 9 billion to 10 billion people.
The oceans would replenish, the air would clear, previously endangered animals would thrive, the Great Barrier Reef would recover… Need I say more?
Scientist, and Environmentalist, James Lovelock, suggests that climate change may be a mechanism through which the planet eases its human burden.
The Human Ego
When doing research for the article I found plenty of forums discussing this same topic. There was a post that stood out to me as it represented everything that is wrong with the human ego, and it reads:
“The world would be no better off without humans. It would be immeasurably worse off without humans. There’s a statistic tossed around a lot that if all bees died out, in fifty years all life on Earth would die, but if humans died out, within fifty years all life on Earth would flourish. Who gives a shit?
We’re the only living beings who could possibly enjoy that flourishing world.
The concept of stopping to smell the roses is unique to us. We invented leisure. We invented luxury. Not all of us have it, but the fact that ‘not everyone has that kind of life’ is a big deal to use just shows how far we’ve come. No other animal has it at all, except maybe pets, who have it in a limited capacity, but only have it through our benevolence.”
I believe that this person embodies the ego of humans, and how we think that we’re better than the beings that we share our planet with. This person can truly see no point in the world without the existence of humans… And that is the problem.
Charles Darwin showed us that humans are like all other animals, however, there are groups alike to Humanists that claim that we are not. John Gray’s, “Straw Dogs”, attacks philosophical humanism, and although the novel is blamed for being pessimistic, it is ultimately truthful and attempts to bring humans down a peg or two.
The Counter Argument
Of course, there are many things that make humanity beautiful at times; its shown in the things that we create, and the love and kindness that we spread. Our ability to have hobbies, and talents, and spread positivity around the world is unique to our species and it is amazing. Although there are plenty of selfish, bad humans, there are also plenty of compassionate, caring humans. People are beginning to wake up about our terrible treatment of the Earth, and good things are happening everywhere. A few good things humans have done for the Earth in recent years include:
- The New Zealand Defence Force helped assist a man in rescuing approximately 30,000 bees from his home apiary after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck.
- French president Francois Hollande announced that France will shut down all coal-fired power plants no later than 2023. Canada will do the same by 2030.
- In August 2016 Scotland produced enough wind energy to power itself for a day.
Antinatalism is “a philosophical position that assigns a negative value to birth”, according to Wikipedia. Judging purely from what I’ve seen online, this is quite a radical group of people; there is a subreddit dedicated to this belief, and one particular forum thread caught my eye as it compares parents to rapists. The post reads:
“To a childbirther, a future child is no more than a piece of meat. Whether it be an extension of themselves, or something to exist for their pleasure, a legacy, the child is there just to fulfil a certain ‘lust’ for the parents. The child is never a full independent human being with a soul, just something to fill their base needs. That’s why it’s so easy for parents to inflict life, the rapist doesn’t see their object of desire as human in exactly the same way parents don’t. They’re just a thing.”
Discovering Antinatalism made me realise that I am not so strong in my beliefs against humanity. Although plenty of humans breed like rabbits, and bring children into the world without being able to support them — I wouldn’t necessarily compare them to rapists…
To put it very simply, yes, I still believe that the Earth and its ecosystems, resources and species would be much better off if humans ceased to exist. The planet doesn’t need us, we need the planet.
With thanks to Ellis Wiggins