Unsettling thought

I enjoy wildlife, and I can’t imagine what life would be like without it.

But I value human life as being infinitely more precious. Without human life, there would be no one appreciating wildlife and taking steps to protect it. A circular argument, perhaps, but do you think there is a fox that wonders whether the rabbit it is about to pounce upon is the last of its species? Of course not. A polar bear would devour the last life in existence without a thought.

“The dawn wind in the High Sierra is not just a passage of cool air through forest conifers, but within the labyrinth of human consciousness becomes a stirring of some world-magic of most delicate persuasion.”

– Ansel Adams (The Meaning of the National Parks, 1950)

It is human consciousness that endows all life with the “stirring of some world-magic of most delicate persuasion.” Without our God-given consciousness, this world-magic would be meaningless. In the absence of human life, who cares? No one.

So I have difficulty relating to those who bemoan “an era when human population and cities are burgeoning” and wish there were fewer people. Which people do they mean?

If you ask which humans they would see done away with, it’s probably not them, their immediate company, or any specific person that they find objectionable, it’s just a hand-waved “them.” Those countless, meaningless others that reproduce — just too many for the earth to bear. It’s fine for them to welcome their new child into the world, or celebrate a grandchild; it’s just all those other people that are the problem.

This is relativist at best and nihilist at worst. The next step is eugenics, to get rid of those unneeded or unwanted humans who clutter up the world. Their unspoken thought is that the world would be better off without all “those people,” as long as they and their loved ones aren’t included.


So should you ever wind up in this sort of line, with that sort of person, and wonder who is next, it’s an unsettling thought to think that you would probably hear:

“Oh, him? Well, I really don’t know him that well…”

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4 Responses to Unsettling thought

  1. Well said! There’s that speech in The Matrix by Mr. Smith, who has captured Morpheus and has him sweating in his chair, tied. Human beings are a disease, a cancer to the planet. Have you seen it? [Link removed]

    Pertaining to your essay, I think to those who see the planet and object to Man’s footprint as the cause for the destruction of it, might agree with Mr. Smith. I do think of our over-populated world and wonder about the order of the natural world. I dare predict Mother Nature or some terrorist will submit a strand of disease that will stir up a pandemic. I’m not a nihilist, but I fear the future. I love nature, too, and am certainly not advocating eugenics. Thought provoking post, John.

  2. Jim Bovard says:

    Excellent riff, John! You are on the same wave length as Julian Simon, an economist I knew whose work on population directly attacked the notion of excess humans as a pox. Julian was a very cheerful fellow & his love of life & humanity influenced his view on humans as a bounty. [Link removed}

  3. inesephoto says:

    Only some areas are overpopulated. It is not about survival, but convenience – people stick to the places where it is convenient to live. There is enough space on the Earth, and people need less than they actually consume. The Nature won’t start killing us, yet, but some crazy people with money, power and ideas might.

  4. Pilgrim says:

    “Which people do they mean?” Good question.

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