When discussing climate change and the environment in general, a common type of argument I hear is “it won’t really affect humans so much.” Whether we’re talking about the effects on rainfall, sea levels, seasonal disturbance, or running out of oil, there are always those who claim that by virtue of their geographical position, economic status, or lifestyle, they personally will escape the brunt of the devastation that climate change can cause.
Some proclaim that they don’t care since they will be long dead by the time any such effects are in a position to harm them, and you know what – they’re right. There is an excellent chance of most people currently living not being affected by climate change. As Bjorn Lomborg so eloquently puts it, Bangladesh would probably have become rich enough after a hundred years to escape the problems caused by rising sea levels. This he argues, is enough reason not to sink money into environmental protection efforts.
Discussions on the environment at a global level almost exclusively deal with the effects on humans. Whether such and such country’s economic progress will be affected. Whether or not the threat to this particular coastal city is real. Whether or not we will have enough oil. Overuse of natural resources is an issue only so far as it affects human lifestyle.
However, I feel that most of these people are missing a crucial fact. Even assuming that you don’t feel regret for ruining the planet per se, aren’t we ignoring the large number of non-human living creatures on the planet? How many multicellular living creatures are there on earth anyway? With how many conscious creatures do we share the earth? To put things in perspective, let’s just take insects. There are a hundred million insects for each human on earth! Assuming there are no other species, what percentage of the conscious life do we make up? Answer: 0.000001%
Not that the insects really have much to worry about. They’ll survive long after humans have gone even in the event of a nuclear holocaust (kind of relieving isn’t it?) But what about all the other species whose lives are affected by our activities? The amount of suffering we cause them is incalculable. Yet we never think of them because they don’t suffer in front of us. Well, I want to bring some of it forward. Into our faces. This is what we do:
Image Credit: Save_The_ Planet
These are just isolated examples. There are so many more. Ask yourself. Even if our policies were to have no impact on humans whatsoever, do we still have the right to cause so much suffering by our actions? I’m not exactly a bleeding heart animal lover – it’s just a question of what is fair and what’s not. If these animals had votes, we wouldn’t be so casual about them would we? What exactly gives us the right to mess up resources that we share with an overwhelmingly large majority of other conscious creatures?
Having met some of the people that I have, I know that they will continue to not give a shit about anything that doesn’t bite them on the nose. But hopefully there are others out there to whom this has given some food for thought.