This I Believe

(Inspired by Reading People Like Dave Foreman, Edward Abbey, E. O. Wilson, Lynn Margulis, and Paul Ehrlich)

Michael J. Vandeman

November 26, 2005

I believe that other species are just as important and valuable as Homo sapiens. The evidence is, frankly, overwhelming. Almost everything that we like depends on other species.

Where does clean air come from? The air is cleaned by trees and other plants with leaves. Humans do not have the capability of cleaning all of the air that we need. It would be physically impossible.

Where does clean water come from? Bacteria, algae, and other small organisms clean the water for us. We don't have the capability of cleaning enough water for our needs. That's why we depend on other species to do it for us.

Where does food come from? Not from farms! All of the food that we need came originally from wild species of plants and animals. Domesticated species are often so changed that they are dependent on humans for their survival. If they happen to get wiped out by disease or other disaster, we will need to once again find their edible wild relatives (and hope that we haven't driven them extinct).

Where do medicines come from? A large number of them were derived from chemicals found in wild species of animals or plants.

Where do humans most like to be? Around other living things -- next to or surrounded by nature: other species! Have you ever visited a quarry? Did you have fun?

I can't think of anything I like or need that is not dependent on the existence of other species (wildlife).

And yet, we treat wildlife as if it weren't important. We act as if humans owned the Earth. We grant ourselves the right to go anywhere and do anything that we feel like doing -- and this in spite of the fact that we arrived on the Earth about 3.8 billion years after other forms of life were already here! In other words, the other species -- upon which we are totally dependent -- have no rights. In particular, they don't have the right to live, unmolested by humans, anywhere on the Earth.

I believe that wildlife have the right to live, and the right to habitat that is closed to humans. I believe that we need to give wildlife our top priority -- not because they are more important than humans, but because we are 100% dependent on them, and because they aren't capable of protecting themselves from us. I can't think of anything more important than that. Can you?