The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in 1886 that "man is the animal not yet properly adapted to his environment"1. He's not the only one to make this comparison; the same point is made in the infamous speech in The Matrix by an Agent of the computer system that has enslaved humankind:
“I'd like to share a revelation I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with their surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, you move to an area and you multiply... and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. 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. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we - are the cure.”
Agent Smith in The Matrix (film)
Another bad guy of history took up the mantle in 1992 - this time it's the misanthropic founder and High Priest of the Church of Satan:
“The current Third World War: Human locusts overrunning the world, necessitating the thinning out of populations because the Rule of the Fool has, for the first time in history, threatened to destroy civilization and evolution. This must never happen again! Until space colonies accommodate the teeming, huddled masses, how will this war be resolved?”
Humanity is now the cause of the Earth's sixth mass extinction event due to our widespread destruction of the natural environments that house other species3,4,5,6. Since 1970 we have devastated freshwater habitats, causing a disastrous 83% reduction in population sizes5. We are presiding over "the worst loss of life on Earth since the demise of the dinosaurs"7. This is a problem that requires strong international co-ordination to fix, and yet, this decade, the spirit of international collaboration has been damaged by the rise of popularism8. Although 196 countries have done, the world's biggest consumer, the USA, has never signed the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity, and unfortunately, many of those that have signed up are not taking the issue seriously. It is of utmost importance that no matter what, we as a species stop our destruction of the natural world, primarily by ceasing the conversation of land for farming and housing.
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