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Whatever thread of evolution brought us to where we are, it gave us a consciousness that appears to be developed to the highest degree among all species. We are aware of deep past, present and far future.

No other species appears to have this, at least not at our perceived level.

That level of awareness gives us a choice:

1…. Are we a superhuman species created by a god, immutable in our current form, not subject to laws of physics or evolutionary forces at all?

or 2, are we a just a big brained primate who learned by chance how to control fire, and thus dominate our (finite) environment while deluding ourselves that it is infinite?

Ridiculing option 1 is ok — but remember billions believe that, in one way or another. They are certain that their future of infinite bliss is pre ordained if only they follow the correct religious path. 46% of Americans believe that the Earth is less than 10000 years old, and so by definition is humankind. Which might explain bouts of madness come election time. Other peoples carry the same certainties about their version of faith. Every faith is the right faith. If the believers are correct, then we don’t have a problem. (unless you are a sinner of course).

But if we go for option 2, we have a different problem, because nature does not allow unruly behaviour by any species for very long. And fire use is definitely on nature’s no-no list. Controlled fire was the start point for our current predicament and is the prime factor taking us towards oblivion.

Nature’s law

Nature requires all species to do only two things: To eat and procreate. The rest is window dressing.

Every life form does just that….consumes, procreates if possible and then dies. If your existence is that of a daffodil, termite or giraffe — you will consume what surrounds you in order to survive and procreate your species.

If on the other hand your food source is daffodils, termites or giraffes, you have to consume them to survive. No species gives up its energy resource willingly, so devises means to protect itself.

This is nature’s eternal battleground.

Humankind started out on the same path, but the controlled use of fire allowed us to consume not just food sources from our own environment, but those of other species as well. We gained a tactical advantage that we should not have been able to.

I have reproduced myself, and brought my offspring to successful maturity. Therefore my lifecycle has been successful.

In a primitive uncossetted environment, it is doubtful that all my offspring would have survived, and I would have been recycled soon afterwards. Up to the 1800s it was uncommon to live beyond 50 or 60. Now I take up space that should be available to someone else. If I get ill and infirm, I will consume resources not meant for me because our care system allows it. That care system is a further drain on finite resources.

On nature’s terms, I have outstayed my welcome. So have several billion other people.

The genetic forces that drove me to care for my kids until they matured didn’t switch off the day they left home. I want to live, because life is really quite pleasant.

Although I have no actual genetic requirement to, I still consume in order to stay alive on my terms because those same genetic forces are too strong to allow otherwise, and will do so as long as the means for survival is available. Even if I become terminally ill it is likely that doctors would burn even more resources to keep me alive for a few more months, unless I personally ordered them not to.

That would be my personal decision.

But although there are too many people on the planet, we are not in a position to take any kind of “collective decision” to reduce our numbers. It is obvious that mass birth control programs cannot work within the timescale available to avoid catastrophic overpopulation. The mothers of the next two billion people are alive now. They will insist on reproducing themselves. Thus a world population on current trends will reach an unsustainable 9 billion or more.

Although we recognise the dangers of too many people, we have no control over it; so our population continues to grow virtually unchecked.

Infection of humankind

So it would seem that nature intends to deal with the infection that is humankind in her own way.

Perhaps we have been recognised as a global fever, and climate change might be the sneeze that gets rid of us.

As far as nature is concerned, there’s nothing caring or uncaring about it. To say nature “cares” is to imbue an abstract concept with human emotion. I am one of 7.5 billion people, genetic forces work within all of them as they do in me.

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Every species that evolves is a way of consuming existing resources to the level they are available. Humankind is the odd one out because we have overshot our consumption level, and are busy consuming more than our fair share.

We have broken nature’s laws for millennia, but in the grand scheme of things, the thousands of years since the commencement of agriculture , has been the blink of an eye. But it was the point at which we decided the planet belonged to us, instead of accepting that we were tenants with a temporary lease.

Lots of species have gone extinct in the past for lots of reasons. The dinosaurs existed for 200m years, a successful species by any definition; they still live on in birds. We won’t be around that long.

We are new kids on the block — if we breach our tenancy agreement, be in no doubt that we will be evicted . We cannot impose the “emotions of care” on nature — there is no basis for that. Our energy form will be deconstructed and redistributed to something more deserving, useful and less destructive.

If we sort ourselves out and get through our impending crisis, we might evolve into something better; if not, then nature will allow some other life form to occupy our niche.

Calling on a god to intercede on our behalf isn’t going to work.

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co-author of The End of More, in paperback and kindle on Amazon email

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