Are humans a plague on the Earth?

David Attenborough

According to The definition of plague is -

Looking at the third and fourth definitions, I might conclude that humans are indeed a plague upon the planet and the planet would doubtless be better off without humans. However, presumably as a human (I just took a quiz that claims I am an alien), I find this a tad disturbing. Like any species, humans exploit their environment to satisfy their needs. With humans being a dominant species with an extremely large biomass, we can not help but foul our environment to some degree. I think it is a matter of perspective and the criteria used to make such a judgement. Then the thought occurred to me as to whether humans have ever done anything that has actually benefited the planet?

The earth couldn’t care less. Sure, we’re trouble for lots of species, but lots of others are doing great because of us. Rats, pigeons, and cockroaches, not to mention the domesticated animals that number in the tens or hundreds of millions, have probably never had it better.

The best argument for conversation is not to save the earth, but to save us. We need to protect the planet and life on this planet because any big changes are much more likely to be harmful to the way we live than beneficial. Global warming, and the ice caps melt? Earth will be fine. Life will be fine. There will undoubtedly be some cool new species to take advantage of new conditions. But us? We might be in trouble.

Being ‘green’ shouldn’t be about saving anyone except for ourselves.

I don’t think we’ve done anything either particularly beneficial or harmful to the planet. I’m not convinced we can. The deepest hole we’ve ever dug is what? 12 meters? The diameter of the earth is about 8000 miles. We can do stuff to the atmosphere or to other life on the planet, but the planet itself is pretty impervious.

What does it mean to “benefit the planet”?

I think you meant kilometers.

Not sure why you switched systems mid-paragraph.:smiley:
But, yeah, I don’t think the Earth is worried about us breaking it. It’s more about should we worry about destroying our ecosystem.

As George Carlin said, “The Earth will still be here…we won’t.”

Speaking of George This is a great bit he does on this subject.

I mostly agree, but think there should be some small room for altruism also. Other critters have as much abstract “right” to the earth as we do, and it’s shabby of us to shove them into extinction.

At some degree, even this reasoning is human-oriented, as it addresses a kind of moral code that only humans could have come up with. It makes us feel better, because we can consider ourselves to be doing good.

But it’s nice, just once in a while, to think about other living things in a kind of “Golden Rule” way.

The earth has no innate wants, likes or dislikes. Humans are a plague to biodiversity however. We are not a plague to ‘life’ per se since we fill the planet with agriculture that suits us. But we are a plague to life that is either unimportant to us or a threat to us.

However we are the only species that can lift itself out of the hellish nightmare of darwinian natural selection. So it is a price worth paying.

“Better off” presupposes a hierarchy of values, which presupposes a species capable of knowing what’s best for it, and intelligent enough to make those comparisons. Planets don’t have consciousness, let alone intelligence. Without humans (or other species with intelligence), there’s no such thing as “better off.”

I started hearing this kind of crap back in the 60s, that not only the planet but the entire Universe would be better off without us. Oh really, do you think the Universe really has an opinion about this planet and its occupants?

I realize I’m ruffling the feathers of any Oprah-ites out there.

Another (sci-fi) thing to consider – humans can never be as harmful to Earth-life as astronomical phenomena like a meteor strike… and humans are the only possible hope Earth-life would have to avoid a meteor strike. So humans could possibly be the best possible thing for Earth-life!

But you can’t say things like that, its cool to be misanthropic. Moving from the Earth I recall a very heated debate I had with an Environmentalist (don’t get me wrong, looking after the environment is certainly a good thing) who objected to my objection to her rather impassioned concern that humanity was going to destroy space by firing nuclear waste into it (I have no idea where she got that idea from). On a smaller but still ludicrous scale she thought humanity was going to destroy the moon by landing on it and potentially exploiting it, how exactly do you destroy or even hurt a giant lump of lifeless rock?

A certain segment of the population has this idea in their heads that humanity is overwhelmingly a Bad Thing and they’re awfully hard to shift.

I couldn’t agree more. This idea that “the planet”, apart from us, is some entity that needs to be preserved as is… is well, just silly. The earth has always been changing and it will keep changing until it no longer exists.

All species become extinct.

How does one benefit a planet? Benefit means “doing good to”, but “good” is a human construct-- a human value. Apart from humans, there are no “good” or “bad” planet conditions. They just are.

Natch, but I think Trin’s point is valid. It’s just plain rude to hasten the process.

The earth, the environment were both here before humans, and will be here long after humans have expired as a species for whatever reason. A few million years and most traces of us all are gone.

And btw…the climate will go from hot to cold back and forth just as it has for millions of years.

Imagine that.

I know Carlin’s been quoted before, but it bears repeating : “The planet’s FINE. The *people *are fucked.”


The fact that some of our worst chemical and radioactive damage thus far could be undone by the passing eons is hardly a saving grace. Both the planet and humanity would be much better off if there were only 500 million of us.

What makes a planet better off or worse off?

Humanity certainly. But the planet?

If you meant “the status of the planet as a comfortable place to sustain human life”, sure. But, again, that’s relies on a human value judgment as to what would be “better”. The planet itself doesn’t care.

That would depend on the critter, I’m all for exterminating Mycobacterium tuberculosis, HIV, Variola (oh wait, we already did that one in).