“I realized that you aren’t actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with its surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is?-A virus. You humans are a cancer of this planet.” Though these are just the dialogues from the character Agent Smith from the hit science fiction film The Matrix, they do make sense. Just as Agent Smith, the environment minister of the UK government of 2003, Michael Meacher, has similar opinions. In one of his lectures, he compared humans with viruses and said that human beings’ view of being the dominant specie of this planet is actually flawed because they fail to respect their environment and surroundings. Don’t you think this is true? Maybe, not yet…
This planet can survive without us, but we humans cannot survive without it which is why we talk about “saving the planet”. Saving the planet is actually a synonym for saving the human race, because the planet doesn’t need a saviour. It has existed before us and will continue to exist for a much longer time than we have. A time might come when this planet will become sick of us and wipe us off like dirt, and the process seems to have already begun. The planet is a living thing, and like every living thing it does know how to defend itself. The weapons our beloved planet Earth is using to protect itself are natural disasters.
Natural disasters are actually natural hazards, like storms and earthquakes, which when affect human activities turn into natural disasters. It causes financial loss to humans, and environment loss to the planet. An earthquake occurring in an uninhabited area will only be a hazard because nothing will be vulnerable to it, but when it strikes a human populated area it will result in destruction of buildings, it maybe lead to fires and the smoke resulting from them will damage the air, which will have an effect on the vegetation in the surrounding area, thus effecting the fauna which depends on the vegetation; it is like a chain reaction. Considering this, will it be plausible to conclude that if there were no humans there would have been no natural disasters? Humans are not the cause of the occurrences of natural disasters, because they will occur even if humans do not exist (as natural hazards though), but they have elevated the effect and damage the disasters leaves behind to the environment. As mentioned before, it all a chain reaction, and let me help finding where does this chain begin from. We shall take an example of a simple flood which kills and leaves many humans homeless.
Humans multiplied resulting in population increase. They needed to expand their area of living, so they encroached the woodlands and forests. This resulted in the deforestation, a loss of living things which intake carbon dioxide. When human development began in that area, through building roads, vehicles, industries, residential areas and commercial areas, the carbon dioxide level increased due to the emissions from motor vehicles and factories. As it increased, a layer of CO2 was formed in the air which trapped heat, resulting in global warming. Global warming caused the ice caps and glaciers to melt, thus causing the sea level to rise. Now when it rained, it caused the already high sea level to increase more, thus creating a hazard; flood. It was a disaster for the humans living on sea sides and islands, because the flood destroyed their homes, it could’ve been prevented and the loss would have been decreased if the humans hadn’t destroyed the mangrove vegetation which help decrease, if not prevent, the effect of floods. Now did this flood, a natural disaster, harm the environment? It was a disaster for humans, but for the environment it turned out to be quite beneficial because it fertilized the soil which will become the cause of growth of vegetation on that land. Now here we see that how simple multiplication of humans did caused their own part to be destroyed and suffer losses. It would not have been this way if we one link from this chain was different from it actually were, that is, if instead of developing factories and using motor vehicles we would have used more environment friendly things, but there wasn’t a choice.
Humans created global warming. It is because of their dumping of chemical waste into water which results in the death of under-water wildlife. When the same water evaporates, mixing with sulphur dioxide emitting from factories, it results in acid rain destroying vegetation and buildings, and if mixed with rivers and lakes it can kill aquatic and marine life. Therefore humans are not just the cause of the rise in natural disasters (which do not always harm the environment), they have also played a major role in damaging the environment, and are continuing to do so. At this point, Mr Meacher is also reported to have stated that though mass extinctions have been the result of asteroids or intense glaciations, this will be the first time in the history of the Earth that species themselves by their own activities are at risk of generating their own demise.
The environment is being harmed more by human activity than by natural disasters. Is this true? Yes! Is there anything we can do to halt it? Yes! Will it guarantee our existence o this planet forever? No, because who knows, maybe we’ll get hit by an asteroid again. But coming back to Agent Smith and Michael Meacher, we do seem to spread like viruses. We cannot slow down our multiplication instantaneously, but we can give back Mother Nature what we have taken from her. We may be human, but we’re still animals…not sure if classified as mammals or not, at least not by Smith.