0.01%

0.01%. That’s the proportion humans represent in comparison with other living things on earth.

Just 0.01 %.  There are 7.6 billion people in this world, and we think that’s huge. But no.  We’re just a speck. We’re that small in the grand scale of things.

Plants and trees represent about 82%. Bacteria account for about 13%;  and animals – about 0.4%.

We’re so small and yet the destruction we have caused in this world is colossal.

Human activities— from manufacturing to transportation to entertainment— have caused massive harm to other living things that far outnumber us.  As few as we are, we have desecrated our planet that give shelter to vast number of other breathing creatures.

We have relentlessly cut and burned our trees. Global tree cover loss reached 29.7 million hectares in 2016, 51% higher than the previous year. This destruction of our forests means loss of food and natural habitat for animals. Thus, they die of starvation and exposure to the elements. We have extensively contaminated the air that 9 out of 10 people breathe in pollutants. Bodies of water are full of filth, choking fish and marine animals.

For our entertainment, monkeys and elephants are tortured to submission so that they would perform in circuses. Endangered animals are hunted and killed for glitzy fashion items, quack medicine and superstition.

How can such an insignificant species wreak havoc on the great majority?

Our pride and arrogance have rendered us blind to our insignificance. We think we’re the smartest and most important species — and that we can do as we please.

We have built supercomputers, bullet trains and rockets, but that doesn’t make us the best. Thousands of years of evolutionary process— and we still haven’t learned symbiosis.  Hundreds of years of civilization and education —yet, many are still ignorant and diseased. Countless places of worship already built — and we’re still hating and killing each other.

The puffer fish —with its pea-sized brain and which never attended an architecture class — can create a perfectly symmetrical structure on the ocean floor. The octopus has enough intelligence to liberate itself from a closed jar. Chimpanzees are capable of altruism and kindness. And dogs, as many can attest to,  are more loyal than human friends.  And we can go on and on with examples of the excellent quality of animals.

But some animals —like lions and sharks— devour other animals and humans with no guilt, we might say.  Pray, do tell. Which act of animal violence have humans not yet committed? Don’t we rip cattle and poultry for our meals as well? Don’t we kill others, both animals and humans, for sheer sadistic delight?  What cruelty animals can do, humans can do more.

No. Humans are not the superior species. We are only superior based on the egocentric standards we ourselves have set.

What should we do to repair the damage we have done?

We can begin by being consumers with conscience. We can reduce our wants, like clothes and gadgets, to minimize environmental impact. We can be mindful of the trash we discard. When we need to kill animals for food, we should inflict minimal pain.

And when we eat, we should consume every edible morsel on our plate. We should use every bit of that food to nourish ourselves and use our energy for the betterment of the world we live in. When we do that, the plant that was chopped for that side dish was not uprooted for nothing. And the animal that was slaughtered for the main course did not die in vain.

Marily Sasota Gayeta

References

https://www.who.int/health-topics/air-pollution#tab=tab_1

https://e360.yale.edu/features/conflicting-data-how-fast-is-the-worlds-losing-its-forests

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/21/human-race-just-001-of-all-life-but-has-destroyed-over-80-of-wild-mammals-study

https://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/38897/20180523/humans-make-up-only-0-01-percent-of-all-living-things-on-earth-while-plants-represent-82-percent.htm

https://www.wri.org/blog/2017/10/global-tree-cover-loss-rose-51-percent-2016

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