Humans: Bad Parasites, Good Sign?

Illustration: Enzo Nicolàs Rossi
(@enzonicolasrossi)

Climate change is real, and us, humans, are the main agents. We’ve f*cked things up, BUT we can still close the wounds and prevent any further scars to our ecosystem. We still meet some deniers, and some people not understanding the real consequences of our current lifestyles for the future. However, we can thankfully observe a rise of awareness with individuals having a clearer idea of our actual responsibility for current climate problems, and also for their potential solutions. Since we have started colonizing our planet, it seems that we have acted as parasites. But, have we taken the wrong path because it was easier or maybe it was needed at that time? Can we take another path right now? Does the key for change reside in each of us?

We could assume  that one of the biggest world’s problem we are facing today: climate change, resides not only in a disconnection between people and nature, but also between people and … people! This resigns to the fact that  the rise of technologies has allowed us to increase our comfort level by keep using more and more natural resources. From there, our greediness and superficiality have resulted in creating  even more severe side effects on our planet. Despite humans being a social species, when our comfort – which very often taken for granted – is threatened, we fall into this nasty individualistic behavior. Individuals, such as specialists have acknowledged that our current economical, political and social systems are no longer working. Indeed, a non-sustainable model seems to have  a way too high price to pay of what we can actually afford. A global rise of awareness indicates that we have neglected our planet and even our existence a way too much.

Climate change seems to be a consequence of our sadomasochist relationship with our dear Earth, this must stop. Even Mr Grey abandons his leather whip for his business suit and gets back to work. A huge change in a very short time must be done; keeping a good life standard, but, not anymore at the cost of the environment nor people. This will require to fight one of our biggest fears: facing the unknown, although  changes can be scary. Making adjustments is easier for the youth, but the older generation is quite often the one with the power and influence over societies. They justify their decisions and actions by their experiences and wisdom. However, it is important to notice that experiences and wisdom are accumulations of events  from the past. We tend to rely too much on “what we know & how we do it” that we struggle to change things, to think “new”, to innovate (1). Starting from scratch is easier when we know nothing than when we think we know something. It is understandable that when  someone has worked hard, this one deserves some respect, and fears being seen as obsolete and sent to the landfill. It makes it challenging to consider the next generations as equals, –Those youngsters have lived less  thans us. They have experienced less struggles than us. They know less about life than us and they are coming to us to tell that we are wrong and what we should do?! –  This is where you could see a nice “WTF” expression on the poor seniors’ faces! If information and knowledge allow us to understand better the world and our relationship with it , it is important to remember that it is not static. So, keep shaking it!

With the cognitive revolution, our far away ancestors realized that they were “individuals” and no longer an indissociable-interconnected-mass-like. Each individual  commenced to feel like a “self”, a unique, a dissociable, an independent entity, while anything else: other individuals, animals or nature started to be seen as something else, something different from each of them, a “non-self”. Since that major impact, we have started to fall into an “in a relationship but it’s complicated” with mother nature. We  dropped a system globally stable, where our ancestors, like any other species, played a role. From a synergistic relationship (or more accurately a commensalistic one, as the Earth does not get anything from us, actually), we have adopted a parasitic one. However, with many current environmental studies – and older one,- we have understood that being parasites was not the best long-term life plan for us. So, here’s some hope: while parasites are annoying (euphemism), their survival depends on the survival of their host, else they disappear. In our case, we keep destroying our host and reach the point that being a parasite will no longer be possible. There will be nothing  left to parasite! Can we deduce that we, humans suck so much at parasitism than maybe we could be good in another type of relationship with Earth? As some bacterias having an important role in our digestion, could humans be somehow useful for the planet, or at least contributing in making it as alive as possible? Do we have some unaware potential, secret superpowers that we still have not discovered and developed?

By leaving the food chains, we now understand by the trendy word “sustainable” that we need to create some new type of relationship with nature. This is a tough work since we must now integrate all the pieces that composed our world in the right place. In studying the ecosystems, we have understood that biodiversity is composed of diverse elements: microorganisms, plants, animals….which seems working well all together. However, before trying to see how us, humans can fully live in symbiosis with the rest of the biodiversity, shouldn’t we understand how to work with our own diversity? Hopefully,  we see the society understanding more and more the importance and the benefices of gender or cultural diversity. For those already at this stage of understanding, let’s start digging deeper and reach a new layer. Will we find some answers to:

How could diversity among people influence positive solutions to climate change?

(1) In Locke’s philosophy, tabula rasa was the theory that at birth the (human) mind is a “blank slate” without rules for processing data, and that data is added and rules for processing are formed solely by one’s sensory experiences.

(Special thanks to Georgeta, Elisa & Dana!)

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