Saturday, 24 May 2008

Daily Telegraph: Earth would be very happy without humans

[...] Perhaps from an asteroid, perhaps from human incompetence, short-sightedness, or malice, chances are that our species will die out or evolve into something we wouldn't recognise. That's what happens to other animals, and we're not that special. I find this prospect unexpectedly relaxing. Numerous anthropocentric religions would have us believe that mankind is the apotheosis of all creation - that the whole point of the universe is us. That without people there is no reason for all those pinpoints in the night sky. This teleology is not simply dubious and myopically self-serving, but depressing.

I'd hate for the purpose of the universe to hinge on my shuffle for the morning paper and my putter about the kitchen stirring up an omelette. I wouldn't even want the purpose of the universe to hinge on the Statue of Liberty and the Sistine Chapel. I like people, or some of them. Why, some of my best friends are people.

Nevertheless, the vision at the end of the documentary of burgeoning forests bounding with bears is strangely uplifting. If we want to stick around, we'll have to keep from defecating where we eat. But if we make a mess of matters and disappear, another form of life will take our place - creatures beautiful, not so self-destructive, or simply weird. That's cheerful news, really. For iPhones, quad bike parks, Gordon Ramsay, and Jacqui Smith not necessarily to represent the pinnacle of all creation comes as a relief. Read more
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