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Homosapiens ― The Useless Species

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       I awoke; It was Easter Sunday, August 4, 2021; It was 4:00 PM. On my consciousness was the question, "What does humankind existence and activity offer to our natural environment and other species?"

       Unlike all other species and their activities which keep nature in balance, enhance, contribute to, create and support food resources and environmental conditions, so that other creatures may continue to thrive, homosapiens are unchecked.

       Humankind existence and activity offers nothing to contribute to the sustenance of nature or other life forms. It does not pollinate, so that other species may survive. It does not engage in activities to keep other species' numbers in balance. It does not graze so that fauna is balanced. It does not plant and farm naturally, resulting in outcomes which are good for the ecosystem. Homosapiens only multiply, consume, destroy, and leave waste.

       And yet, we pronounce ourselves to be the most intelligent, evolved species. We self-proclaim our species to be set apart from all others on the planet, because of our magnificent, highly advanced and mysteriously capable brain. Indeed, we are so grand, so special and unique, that we are most likely the only intelligence in the universe.

       If diversity has value, our planet is a truly remarkable place. We have animals as massive as elephants and rhinos, tiny insects like ants and spiders, as well as plants of every imaginable hue and size.

       Underwater, gigantic beings like killer whales and dugongs wander alongside smaller creatures like sea horses and clownfish. Each of these organisms plays a unique role in its particular environment, and their survival is largely dependent opon one another. Everything in our ecosystem is therefore interconnected, so the removal of one species can severely threaten the survival of another. Conversley, if the human race were to cease to exist tomorrow, the survival of no species would be threatened. In fact, ecosystems would again prosper and not be distroyed.

       In searching the internet with a common inquiry regarding various species, all literature found offered similar reasons for their importance and common contribution to the creation, maintenance of and support to life.

"Why are bees important?" 1

 

 Bees 01

Image Credit: Via WorldAtlas.com

  • How could one insect smaller than a quarter contribute so much to life on earth? But even if it seems improbable, bees are that important, and they are a valuable species in many different ecosystems.
  • According to the USDA, over one-third of all crop production requires insect pollination, with honey bees carrying the bulk of this work in the United States.
  • Some estimates claim that honey bees contribute at least $15 billion a year to the economy by the work they do pollinating. [White House Archives estimate that bee pollination contributes $24 billion to the U.S].
  • As bees visit flowering plants to collect food, they carry pollen from one plant to another, depositing it in such a way that a plant can reproduce.
  • Plant pollination is important to produce the food that humans eat and the crops used to feed livestock.
  • While it’s easy to see the importance of pollination for the food we eat, it’s important to remember that bees are an integral part of more than just human life: They are necessary for other plants and animals around the world.
  • Many species of bees help pollinate the plants in the areas they are native to promoting genetic diversity in those plants and providing food for animals.
  • It’s true that there are other means for natural plant pollination, including the wind, birds, bats, and other insects, but nothing with quite the breadth and depth that bees offer.

       Pollination is crucial to growing and producing many foods we eat every day, and according to Woodland Trust, it isn’t just our food that would be impacted by bee extinction. Many of the crops that we use to feed our livestock, namely clover, alfalfa, and soybeans, are pollinated by bees. Fruits such as apricots, avocados, apples, tomatoes, melons, cherries, peaches, citrus fruits, cranberries, and blueberries are all pollinated by bees, as are vegetables including cucumbers, broccoli, asparagus, celery, and squash.2

"Why are wolves important?" 3

 

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Image Credit: Via LivingWithWolves.Org

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Image Credit: Via LivingWithWolves.Org

  • The most recognized and well-documented ecological benefit of wolves is that they have resumed the important role of maintaining healthy wildlife herds in the northern Rockies by selecting young, old, physically impaired, or diseased animals. By reducing prey numbers, dispersing these animals on the landscape, and removing sick animals, wolves also may reduce the transmission and prevalence of wildlife diseases such as chronic wasting disease and brucellosis.
  • In addition to improving the overall fitness of wildlife herds, wolves have also altered the behavior of their prey, leading to a cascade of beneficial effects on the landscape. In the absence of wolves, elk tended to browse heavily in the open flats along rivers and wetlands, since they did not need to evade predators by seeking thicker cover. Without fear of wolves, elk over-browsed the vegetation inhibiting the growth of new trees.
  • Since the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone, elk spend more time in the safety of thick cover or on the move. As a result, riparian areas and aspen groves that had been suppressed by decades of over-browsing are regenerating, improving habitat for species like beavers and songbirds. Beavers, which create wetland habitats with their dams, have improved water quality in streams by trapping sediment, replenishing groundwater, and cooling water.

"Why are algae important?" 4

 

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Image Credit: World Atlas. com

As a Source of Oxygen

  • One of the most important roles played by algae in the environment is the production of oxygen as a by-product in the process of photosynthesis.
  • One of the similarities between land plants and several algae species is the presence of chlorophyll which allows them to form organic food molecules by utilizing energy from the sun and carbon dioxide.
  • The process is essential to the survival of algae as the food molecules provide them with energy. After the completion of the process, oxygen is released.
  • Due to the large number of algae in the world, it is responsible for the production of more than 30% of the oxygen that land animals rely on for their survival.
  • Several estimates indicate that the amount of oxygen produced by the algae is close to 50% of what terrestrial animals need.
  • If the algae die off due to the depletion of minerals in the water, the decomposition and subsequent decline in oxygen production may lead to the death of the fish.

As a Source of Food

  • Algae occupy the position of producer within a food chain which means that numerous food chains begin with them. They are immensely important because it is a food source to a large number of aquatic animals ranging from tadpoles to fish species such as the catfish and the Siamese algae eater.
  • Life in the ocean is heavily dependent on algae as the organisms that feed on algae are eaten by larger species ensuring that life continues in the sea.

"Why are elephants important?" 5

 

 elephants 01

Image Credit: Via Conservationaction.co.za

       Elephants serve a critical role in our ecosystem and are therefore known as a “keystone species.” Keystone species are those that provide vital ecosystem services, many of which are essential for the survival of other species in the community.

       Elephants are the largest mammals on land, and they are found across Africa and Asia. Elephants are also among the most intelligent species on Earth and are the descendants of mammoths, which have continued to fascinate humans long after their extinction. These broad-eared creatures also play a crucial role in several religions, cultures and traditions across the world, and several communities worship them.

Elephants Create Watering Holes During Drought

       Many regions arounds the globe are facing a crisis of water scarcity. During these times of intense drought, elephants use their trunks to sniff out areas where water may be found underground. They can then use their tusks to dig for water and create new watering holes, which allows them to survive during the drought season. These watering holes are not only used by elephants, however, but many other species as well. 

Elephants Disperse Seeds

  • As you know, elephants are herbivores, meaning that they consume many plants, along with their seeds! Elephants eat these seeds and then plant them on their wanders via their dung.
  • These seeds, in turn, grow into new plants, grasses and bushes. The dung also acts as a fertilizer and provides numerous nutrients that promote germination and growth. As elephants move from one area to another, they help plants colonize and grow in newer regions, thus creating additional habitats for animals. 
  • Did you know that African elephants are capable of dispersing seeds from 335 different plant species and Asian elephants can do the same for 122 different plant species?

Elephants create new paths

  • Elephants are capable of trampling quite a few plants while walking from one area to another. This creates a clearance in densely vegetated areas, enabling smaller animals to move more freely.
  • Similarly, elephants pull down and uproot thorny bushes, which further helps in clearing safe pathways for smaller animals. The clearance of some thorny bushes also allows more light to reach the ground, which promotes the growth of new plant species and reduces competition.
  • Elephants are not only clearing the way for smaller animals, but also creating more opportunities for plants to flourish!

Elephants Provide Food

  • Elephant dung is a food resource for many species, primarily insects. Given that elephants defecate over 15 times per day, their dung creates ample food for those species who rely on it. As a result, innumerable insects swarm near freshly deposited dung.
  • These swarms then act as a food source for birds who feed on the insects. Dung beetles are also known to collect elephant dung and store it as a source of food for their larvae. Honey badgers then capitalize on this collection and feed on beetle larvae!
  • Researchers have also observed butterflies visiting fresh dung, as it keeps them warm. They have also reported that dung contains minerals that are essential for reproduction, and is therefore ingested by male butterflies.
  • In addition, when elephants forage for food, tree branches, leaves and twigs will fall to the ground. This helps in the pruning of trees, which facilitates their growth. These fallen tree parts become food for large herbivores like gaur (bos gaurus) and sambar deer (Rusa unicolor), who also share ecosystem space with elephants.

Elephants Provide Shelter

  • Just as they provide food, elephants also provide shelter for smaller creatures, especially amphibians and insects.
  • For instance, in Myanmar, a group of researchers observed that during the dry season, elephant tracks fill up with water, which creates an ideal environment for frogs to lay their eggs and for tadpoles to grow.
  • Also, the footprints of elephants provide predator-free breeding grounds for frogs and act as connecting sinks for frog populations to connect.

       The above species serve only as a small exapmle of life forms. You can research every species on land, in the air or oceans, and you will discover volumes of humankind descriptions of their value, importance and contribution to the ecosystem.

       When the same inquiry was applied on the internet to homosapiens, it returned no comparable responses. All that appears in literature is how humans consume and cause destruction to the environment, mass extinction of other species and irreversible destruction to our planet's ecosystems which sustain life.

       My search for the value of homosapiens discovered National Geographic and other sources only offering this perspective of human importance and contribution to other species and our environment. How can it be that a species which describes itself as the singular miracle of the universe, the pinnacle of evolution and intelligence, not offer a single reason and description of its importance and value to the ecosystem?

       As an aside, it must be noted, that much of the news commentary and observations about our desolate towns, city streets and communities offered were that, as we isolated ourselves due to the Covid-19 pandemic, wildlife slowly came out of hiding and began to appear again within our occupied spaces.

       I asked the same questions.

 

"Why are humans important?" What are their effects on the ecosystem?

       I could not find any information regarding our value, but endless volumes and data on our negative effects upon regional and global ecosystems.

  • Severe global air pollution…

       Nearly 2 billion children – about 93 percent of the world’s children under the age of 15 – breathe toxic, putrid air that’s so polluted it puts their health and well-being at serious risk, a new report said. 

       Many of the children die: The United Nations' World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 600,000 children died in 2016 [alone] from lower respiratory infections caused by dirty air.8

 air pollution 01

Image Credit: Xiaolu Chu / Getty Images

  • Overall climate change…
  • Dramatic increase of Global wildfires…
  • Noise pollution causing health problems to humans and wildlife both on land and in the oceans…
  • River and waterways pollution …

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Image Credit: Photograph by Kaentian Street Via National Geographic

  • Severe environmental disasters on land and oceans…
  • Human trash landfills and oceanic trash pollution ― especially plastics9

       A beach where heavy winds and strong waves washed ashore piles of garbage in Keserwan, north of Beirut, Lebanon, on 23 January 2018.

 

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Image Credit: © 2018 Marwan Naamani/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

  • Light pollution ― living under the nighttime glow of artificial light, causing big problems for humans, wildlife, and the environment…
  • Amazon Rain Forest and biodiversity destruction. The rain forest also acts as a key climate regulator, producing 20% of the world's oxygen and acting as a carbon sink. However, human activity, in the form of logging, mining, and resource extraction, threatens this critical ecosystem. 6

 

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Image Credit: Via Dreamstime

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Image Credit: James P. Blair, National Geographic

  • Over 90% of marine predatory fish are gone and 80% of all other commercial fish species have disappeared from over-fishing and destructive fisheries. If we continue fishing as we are now, most seafood will be gone by 2048. (FAO/National Geographic)

 overfishing 01

Image Credit: Via World Wildlife.org

  • Overfishing of whitefish disrupts the ecosystem balance around the planet. Haddock mature earlier in their lifecycles than in the past and these young fish produce fewer eggs. Overfishing of Patagonian toothfish and orange roughy has led to commercial extinction, and overfishing of cod will lead to potential extinction within the next 15 years.

       Yes, the human species has created quite extraordinary achievements (according to our proclamations and compared to other species) in the ability to preserve itself ― in medicine, for example. It has been able to improve its level of living comfort and protection from the elements.

       However, I posit that humankind existence and activity offers nothing to contribute to the sustenance of nature, as does every other creature. It does not pollinate, so that other species may survive. It does not engage in activities to keep their numbers in balance. It does not graze, causing fauna to thrive. It does not plant and farm naturally, resulting in outcomes which are good for the land.

       Yes, we put forth efforts and seek accomplishments to preserve certain plots of land, reverse the extinction of select species, keep certain rivers and lakes pristine or improve air quality, but they are insignificant compared to the ever continuing and accelerating destruction of our ecosystem.

       Be assured, that the planet and life forms other than humankind will survive us. Most current ones will die out. New and successive species will continue to emerge and evolve, with most of them becoming extinct, as geological history shows us.  Earth will continue to alter slowly and gradually, as it has for billions of years. Continents will not stop drifting. Ice cover, in all likelihood, will again wax and wane.

       I see no future for homosapiens. We only multiply, consume, destroy and leave waste.

 

 

Note: Some text has been edited for organizational structure and brevity.

1 From: https://www.terminix.com/blog/education/why-are-bees-important/>

2 From: https://www.greenmatters.com/p/why-are-bees-important>

3 From: https://environmental-analyst.net/2013/08/22/why-wolves-are-important/>

4 From: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-is-the-ecological-importance-of-algae.html>

5 From: https://www.scienceabc.com/nature/animals/what-role-do-elephants-play-in-ecosystems.html>

6 From: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/activity/protecting-biodiversity-amazon-rain-forest/>

7 From: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/point-source-and-nonpoint-sources-pollution/

8 From: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/10/30/air-pollution-93-percent-worlds-children-breath-polluted-air/1811587002/

9 From: https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/06/25/lebanon-beirut-landfill-near-capacity#

10 From: https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/whitefish>

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