Friday, 4 September 2009

What about us?

As I was reading an article about how the extinction of some species would be fatal for life on earth, I asked myself something: what is our role on earth? What would have happened if we had never existed?

Each and every animal, insect or parasite has its role on earth. A few examples:

- Bees: while collecting the nectar for honey, it drops some pollen on the ground and contributes to pollinating the plants. It is estimated that one third of the human food supply depends on insect pollination, most of which is accomplished by bees.

- Birds: they eat snakes, insects and also grains and fruits from trees which they "replant" later on. Moreover, the feathers that fall on the ground contain some minerals that the earth needs.

- Predators: they are in charge of regulating the animal population and maintaining the fragile balance that is in the ecosystem. Their main preys are the cervids.

- Cervids: they clean up the forests by eating the small trees and their roots, allowing more space for the other trees to grow (if there are too many trees, there won't be enough energy or resources for each of them to grow). Their excrements contribute to the earth's fertility and are essential for the trees. Nevertheless, if there are too many of them, the forests would be reduced to huge prairies. So don't feel bad when you see a wolf eating a deer on the Animal Channel.

- Vegetation: in other words, trees, plants, algae, etc. absorb the CO2 and convert it into oxygen during the photosynthesis.

...and so on. Every inhabitant on Earth has a specific role, like in a factory, and they do what they are supposed to do in order to preserve the natural habitat. Their instinct tells them everything they have to do and they hardly ever go wrong. Though I don't think that the cockroach (do click on this link, you won't regret it) is very useful on Earth...they could be ALL dead if it were up to me.

But what about us? What is our contribution to our environment? If you look closely, we are here with no specific role in this factory, no instincts to tell us what to do, no instincts to tell us how to do it and we are blessed with an over-powered brain. So we use our brains to invent things that will keep us busy. Societies, religions, economies, finance, tourism, leisure, etc. and the resources we are using to manufacture our superficial world are the earth's resources.

I think that in this factory called Earth which is perfectly well staffed, we have no role. We just watch the show happening, understand it, test it, challenge it, use it and then ruin it. We need to find our role in this factory without disrupting the entire mechanism, but we're failing right now.

I also read a book called The world without us by Alan Weisman, that envisions what would life on earth be if we had suddenly vanished from it. It's a great book, but the scenario is different from mine - in the book we existed as we are and then we disappear leaving our entire world behind (nuclear companies, oil drillers, etc.). But my question is what would have happened or changed if we hadn't existed in the first place?

We were placed here for a reason. We were born to achieve something, but what? It seems that we were put in this magnificent, breath taking place to contribute to it somehow, but we don't value this opportunity and we just ruin the whole thing for our own pleasure. So how about we spend more time and money discovering what our job on Earth is and start contributing. Let's find what is missing in what appears to be a perfectly balanced environment and use our brain to do something about it. And don't get me wrong, i know that human kind achieved so much in the past few thousand years, but it did things for its own survival without being part of the "maintaining the Earth alive" process.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe we are useful, but I can't see it because I am very disappointed in humans lately (and surprisingly over eco-friendly). Maybe we are here for no other reason than to enjoy the wonders of Earth (and use it as our playground). So what do you think? Do we have a job here? I know I'm not being very original with this question as this is the most existentialist question ever, but I really do wonder...

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