In relation to the earth, humans are parasites. This is not a metaphor or some pop culture reference to Agent Smith from the Matrix. Humanity’s relationship to nature and the biosphere is largely, if not, exclusively, parasitic. The model by which humanity organizes itself and its resources is one of uni-directional, linear, unending, consumption that is entirely at the expense of the Earth.
Hitherto, the earth has primarily been regarded as nothing more than a set of raw materials and resources to be plundered and pillaged. Self-interested, material, exploitation of anything and everything has developed as the primary human psychological orientation toward its entire existential environment. We are parasites, endlessly taking from our host planet and never attempting or achieving any amount of symbiosis or sustainability.
Within a matter of decades, and factoring in current trends of population growth, we will require multiple planets to maintain our current rates of consumption. Some scientists and theorists have speculated that by the year 2050 we may require twenty-seven earths to continue our current rates of consumption. In as little as forty years, the last remaining rainforests could be gone. According to a UN report provided by the International Resource Panel,
According to a UN report provided by the International Resource Panel, natural resource extraction for human use has tripled in the last forty years. Global biodiversity is depleting. Ocean acidification is decimating marine life. Net energy consumption is increasing. In other words, we are cancerously eating away at our planet in the spirit of ravenous, insatiable organisms, with no substantive regard for the impending ramifications of our reckless consumption.
We have a choice: we can either continue to entertain this preposterous and absurd paradigm of infinite growth and unchecked consumption, or we can embrace logic, dignity, intelligence, and morality and begin to regulate ourselves in a manner that does not make us comparable to ticks, leeches, head lice and scabies. Instead of charging full-speed-ahead with rampant exploitation and extraction, we could adopt a responsible and reasonable orientation toward our surroundings and behave in a manner that preserves that which supports our very existence.
Sustainability and ecological harmony are not Utopian abstractions consigned to a realm of romantic idealism; in fact, it is imperative that they no longer be regarded as such. Efficient production and non-wasteful deployment of resources must cease to be dismissed as idealistic and instead be the condition upon which these things continue. We must begin to manage our resources in a manner that shows respect for them, for ourselves, and for nature in general. If we truly believe ourselves to be any better than parasites, our behavior has yet to reflect this fact.
Perhaps it is time for humanity to finally make a substantive attempt at decency and respect. We must prove we are not cancerous organisms of whom the planet would be better off without. Perhaps it is time for decency, sustainability, and general welfare to take priority over profit, consumption, and self-interested behavior. If we have any sense of decency whatsoever we will take responsibility for our reckless behavior and correct it.
But this, of course, is only if we wish to distinguish ourselves from the likes of blood-sucking ticks, crabs, lice, etc…