3. Selfish Species
Posted by Environmentalism 101| 18 Aug 2015 |
To be the first documented species in all of known history to be causing the mass extinction of other species, eliminates any reasonable doubt of our disastrous and destructive impact. To be awarded ‘Earth’s most destructive species’, especially noting that we only featured relatively recently on the evolutionary timeline is a noteworthy, albeit, depressing achievement. Whilst our destruction has been amplified by the birth of civilisation, industrialization, agriculture and our technological advancements, they are by no standards the direct cause of what drove us to pursue such a destructive path.
The primary aspect of what make us so destructive is our negligence towards other species, rooted in our self-focused nature. We see the world from a very self-oriented and human-oriented viewpoint, prioritising our personal needs and desires over other humans, followed by prioritising the needs and desires of humans over other species. Our self-focused nature compels us to structure beliefs that all other species and the Earth’s resources are expendable in serving the needs and desires of humans. We do not take into consideration that we are co-inhibitors of Planet Earth and self-impose our entitlement above all other species. The creation of ‘human rights’ that are paramount over that of all other species, illustrates how humans view themselves, couple this with our technological capabilities and it is understood how we can be so destructive and negligent to all other species. Our anthropocentrism stems from our self-focused nature and we are negligent because at our core we are a selfish species.
It is difficult to conceptualise and understand the nature of other species, but we can assume that all species view the environment for their benefit, seeking what fulfills their needs and desires as priority. These prioritised self-focused desires spur diversity as varying organisms carve out niches within the environment. The self-focused desires undertaken by all organisms are essential for survival and allude to the understanding that all life is inherently selfish.
Based on the selfish nature of all organisms, any species that would have risen to the intellectual prominence of humans would potentially be just as focused on satisfying its own needs, regardless of the expense to other species. If an elephant were able to amass the capabilities of a human, it too would see things from a very elephantist point of view and would manipulate the environment to suit and fulfill its needs and desires, both as an individual and for the elephant species.
The selfish nature we possess and share with all other species is what ultimately make us animals. We are a different physical expression of a common selfish nature present within all life. Despite being ordinary animals, we have amassed extraordinary capabilities that have allowed us to become so destructive. Regardless of our common shared selfish nature with all species, that does not dismiss or excuse our destructivity, instead it is a necessary reminder that we are animals bound by the same basic principles that promote the existence of all other species. To destroy the natural world that we depend on is neither intelligent nor progressive.
To invest solution seeking in governing systems, organisation initiatives, media campaigns, technological advancements or economical systems will bare no results, as they are all systems that are products of our selfish nature. By focusing on improving or altering these anthropocentric systems we will further enable better ways to be more negligent and more destructive. Our task is not to tweak existing anthropocentric systems that amplify our selfishness, instead we are to progress to a new direction, based on changing our core nature – selfishness.