George Monbiot Makes Shock Discovery That Humans Are A Viciously Destructive Species
THIS really ought to take some sort of a prize for the amount of cluelessness it shows about our fellow humans. Yes, of course we’re ruthless, greedy and destructive swine, what the hell else did anyone ever think we were?
You want to know who we are? Really? You think you do, but you will regret it. This article, if you have any love for the world, will inject you with a venom – a soul-scraping sadness – without an obvious antidote.
The Anthropocene, now a popular term among scientists, is the epoch in which we live: one dominated by human impacts on the living world. Most date it from the beginning of the industrial revolution. But it might have begun much earlier, with a killing spree that commenced two million years ago. What rose onto its hind legs on the African savannahs was, from the outset, death: the destroyer of worlds.
Before Homo erectus, perhaps our first recognisably human ancestor, emerged in Africa, the continent abounded with monsters. There were several species of elephants. There were sabretooths and false sabretooths, giant hyenas and creatures like those released in The Hunger Games: amphicyonids, or bear dogs, vast predators with an enormous bite.
And Monbiot goes on to point out that where ever humans ended up we killed off the megafauna in that location pretty quickly.
The question is though, why is anyone surprised at this? Didn’t everyone already know this?
Well, the answer is that the evidence was always there in front of us. The story of the dodo, or for the more alert, the auk and the passenger pigeon could tell us that we’re pretty good at eliminating species even if only by eating them. But those have usually been attributed to modern man being a greedy ruthless bastard. Pre-modern man wasn’t like that at all you see. No, he lived in harmony with nature uninfected as he was with capitalism and other vices. So, when people started noting that the giant wombats of Australia seemed to have been wiped out soon after humans got there 40,000 years ago, or that the American elephant and horse seem to have disappeared as humans got there 12,000 years ago, well, there were a lot of people disposed to say that it was climate change that killed them off, not humans. Because, you know the idea of the Noble Savage is just to precious for us to admit reality.
Even the fact that it took the Maori only 100 years or so to wipe out the giant moa was conveniently overlooked.
It might come as a shock to Monbiot but anyone actually paying attention has known that humans are a viciously destructive species, always have been. And the most interesting thing we can say about it all is that we’re less destructive now than we used to be. Probably because we’ve already got rid of all the things that want to eat us and already domesticated all the things that we want to eat ourselves.