Humans are capable of many things; love, compassion, ingenuity and much more. Unfortunately, one issue stands out above all the others. Humans are capable of destruction. We tend to leave a wake of destruction in our path, whether intentionally or by mistake. The question, though, is how long will the world put up with us?
Nature has proven one thing, the weak die, and the strong survive. So, what happens when we weed out all the weak?
The elephant seal was once a tranquil species. So much in fact, a person could walk among a colony of these seals without so much as a cautious look. And like many similar animals, we took advantage of this, killing these species on the spot for their blubber. The docile species they were, they did not fight back, and eventually mankind drove them to the brink of extinction.
A few of them survived, hidden away from humans. These few managed to repopulate the species but with very altered behavior. Elephant Seals are now a very aggressive species and will gore humans given the chance.
This is our fault, pure and simple. We took advantage of an animal and in response; it developed the tools to prevent their near annihilation from happening again. Unfortunately, even when we think we are doing right in this manner, we could very well be doing more harm.
The agricultural world has been at war with pests as long as it has been around. To counteract this threat we have developed a number of methods for ridding the fields of these pests everywhere from picking them by hand to using hazardous chemical compounds. The pests however are learning and adapting. Many of the species that we are fighting are becoming resistant to our methods, causing many of them to only harm species that were not intended as targets as crossfire. A prime example of this is DDT, a chemical that was sprayed excessively prior to the environmental revolution in the 70’s. Its targets were insects that were plaguing humans and our crops at the time. However, like many other pesticides, the intended species became resistant and the chemical began to affect other animals. In our crusade against the natural world, we have begun a biological arms race.
Nature’s backlash does not stop at the animal kingdom. Many of us have faced the threat of wildfires in the past week. While most of this area of San Diego was intended to burn regularly, our presence has made it worse.
The plants in this area have a waxy or oily coating on the leaves that make the plant very flammable. These plants are intended to burn as its role in the ecosystem. However, our constant fire prevention and a lack of controlled burns, have allowed these plants to become abundant enough to cause entire hillsides to act as time bombs just waiting to go off. Because of this, we get these extremely hazardous wildfires every few years that are much more of a threat than they would have originally been.
Our influence in the world around us is not always bad, but if we are not careful, it is very easy for our influence to slip in this direction. So how do we fix it? We fix it by knowing what we are doing before we actually do it. Limit and conserve the resources we get from animals, Test pesticides before releasing them into the world, and allow our ecosystems to work through their natural cycles. If we are going to live on this planet, we need be a part of it.