Crimes Against the Environment Are Crimes Against Humanity

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It is an obvious but often downplayed fact that nature is all we human beings have. Without nature there would be no economy, no homes, no families, no jobs, no air to breathe, no water to drink, no food, no nothing. There would be no stock markets, no trading, no traveling, no companies, no businesses, no countries, no careers, no life, no future, no past, no present. Everything we have comes directly or indirectly from nature’s resources. The flashy TV screens on the NASDAQ building in New York City, the skyscrapers, highways, clothes, mobile phones, taxis, buses, computers, planes, cars, boats, robots, microchips, x-ray machines – all are products made from nature’s materials. Even the Internet exists only because of nature’s ingenious bounty.

Of course people are amazing too. We are the indisputable champions of the utilization of nature’s resources. That is true without any doubt. But it is also true that without nature, we wouldn’t be able to show off any of our skills. We would have no tools and no materials to build any of the remarkable things we have in this world. Nature is the sole source of our wealth and success. We maybe view ourselves as the masters of the universe, or at least the masters of our own planet, but we aren’t really that special compared to nature. True, we are very skillful, very resourceful, and very opportunistic. We can mass produce food and build 2,000-foot high-rises. Yeah. No problem. Easy. We can build airplanes and design submarines that dive into the great abyss. We even went to the moon to stick a flag there. We are without question something this world has never seen before. That much is clear. However, even if all that sounds amazing to us, that is still the easy part.

If you want to know what the hard part is, go into an empty room and try to create a chicken. Try to create a nice chunk of iron ore from nothing, from scratch. Try to make a tomato. Not grow a tomato, but create it from scratch without ever having seen one before. Come up with the idea of a tomato and turn your idea into reality. Or, design a whale, a shark, or a dragonfly. And don’t just copy their designs. Create the whole thing. Come up with the idea, blow life in it, make it operate and think independently. Plant survival instincts in it and make it reproduce. Nature did that. We don’t know how it did it, but it did it. No disrespect to human ingenuity, but our finest airplane is like a pathetic joke next to the capabilities of a Crimes against Humanity.

The sad and senseless part is that even if nature is all we got, we keep destroying and polluting it. We bite the hand that feeds us all with our insatiable fangs. We bite faster and harder than ever before. We keep on biting even if the hand is already bleeding badly. The latest minutes in the clock of humanity have been particularly terrifying in their destructiveness. The industrial revolution started just a couple of hundred years ago, and we are already neck-deep in trouble. We are already fighting for clean water supplies and worrying about disappearing fish stocks and ecosystems. We have driven a huge amount of animals to the verge of extinction. We have destroyed plant species we didn’t even have the chance to study. We have managed to do all this in a puny few hundred years. What can we do in a thousand years – in ten thousand years?

It is also sad that we seem to be willing to adapt to the darkness rather than putting up a serious fight to keep the sun shining. We like to push the bad future out of our minds and deal with it when it arrives. We maybe see the dark clouds approaching, but that isn’t enough to lift our butts off the sofa and do something about the situation. We would rather wait and see. When all the fish in the sea are gone, we will shrug and start eating something else. Tuna was great, but chicken will do. It will especially be OK for the ones who never had the chance to taste tuna.

We seem to justify all the destruction and pollution by thinking that we are only helping our fellow people to improve their lives. We have many strong arguments why nature should always yield to people’s needs. We argue that letting a forest be cut down to the last tree is acceptable because it provides benefits for the people who are burning the wood and farming the lands. We argue that leopards and tigers should be killed because they attack cattle, people’s livelihood. We argue that the outdated industrial factory that destroys our lakes and rivers is needed because it creates jobs. Strong arguments like that can be found everywhere and going against them may risk one coming across as a traitor, a human hater.

But could it be that destroying and disrespecting nature is in fact the worst thing we could do for the long-term wellbeing of humanity? Could it be that winning those strong arguments will just lead to short-lived gains for a relatively small group of people – for a few generations? Could it be that our seemingly right and humane decisions are in fact something that will one day prove to be more destructive Crimes against Humanity for the human race than anything we could have ever imagined? Could it be that we have to one day accept that some of the strongly applauded philanthropy was in fact just cruel misanthropy in a devious and deceiving disguise? Or, could it be that we will only stop shopping when we all drop dead?

Nature will not survive the destructive forces of humanity forever. Its incredible ability to correct human neglect has its limits. Permanent and irreparable damage to our world is inevitable if we choose not to change our behavior. When the species we love are gone forever and the delicate balance of nature broken, it is too late to point fingers. We don’t want to hear an apology when talk is all that is left. We don’t want to hear that the most expensive mistake of them all was to let the ocean die, the forest be cut down. We don’t want to see heads rolling and people being grilled by committees full of angry men and women in expensive suits when the beauty of our country is gone. We don’t want to see people punished and justice served. We want your beaches and forests back. But the deal is done. It is over. The people who allowed the destruction to continue will be gone one day, but our children’s ocean will still be dead, our dream for them crushed under the heavy weight of human greed and shortsightedness.

We have to stop the lunacy we have engaged ourselves in. We have to wake up and realize that by destroying our environment, we are destroying ourselves in the process. It is our responsibility as inhabitants of this great planet to care about its future and wellbeing. We need to stop concentrating our energy on just our own personal agendas and missions in life. We need to let go of the feeling of entitlement and abandon the seemingly inherent right to make a living at all costs. We need to see beyond our individual lifetimes, our children’s lifetimes. We need to learn to see the future even if we won’t be part of it. We can do that. We are not anchored to the present with our thoughts and ideas but have been given a precious gift to consciously see beyond our time here. We can see the future with a clarity that only human awareness can provide. Our vision isn’t limited to a hardwired drive to reproduce and secure a future for our offspring. That is a rare gift and something that is way too precious to waste.

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