Category Archives: Environmental Posts

Are Humans Like Voldemort?

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I have been known to say that humans are like Voldemort. If we really want to kill a creature, we can and will. I’ve said this because as we speak, humans are wiping out many endangered animals.  As if that wasn’t enough, when still-plentiful animals adapt to the unnatural surroundings humans have created, we try to get rid of them, too, because they’re supposedly interfering with our quality of life. That really makes me angry.  We have endangered and wiped out so many species that I fear we will also wipe out mice, rats, pigeons, cockroaches, and other creatures that adapt well to development if we try hard enough. That’s why I think if humans really want to kill something, it will happen sooner or later, hence my comparison to Voldemort.
People have told me that this isn’t true. They’ve told me that some so-called pests, especially cockroaches, can withstand anything humans throw at them, and will be around long after everything else dies out. I hope that’s true. I hope cockroaches and other pests ultimately win the fight when we try to wipe them out. But even I have come to question myself on how accurate the comparison of humans to Voldemort really is. Before I get to that, though, let me vent a little.

It’s as though humans are saying to cockroaches and other creatures we consider pests, “How dare you adapt to your new surroundings after I destroy your natural habitat?” I mean, what the heck? When their habitats are altered, animals can do one of two things: adapt or die out. What, Humanity, did you expect all wild creatures, or at least the ones you don’t like, to die out when you developed their land? I’m afraid that doesn’t happen as often as you’d like, Humanity!

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I can talk about my own perception of why the Voldemort analogy might not work with humans. Here’s what I think:  When looking at all those times we’ve wiped out or endangered a species, we often see that it was done indirectly.  For most of those instances, It was not a direct or intentional action. It may be that none of the species that went extinct at humanity’s hands did so because humans wanted to wipe them out. Well, okay, that did happen with wolves, which is why wolves are still endangered today. Wolves were believed by humans to be pure evil, which is why we tried to eradicate them. I’m sure there have been other cases like this, too, but it still seems that the vast majority of animals that have gone extinct at our hands were killed indirectly, not directly, by our actions. Very rarely have we endangered a species because we wanted it to go extinct.
Even when we try to get rid of cockroaches or other “pests,” we’re usually not trying to completely wipe these creatures off the planet. We just don’t want them near where we live, and, since none of these creatures are endangered, wiping them out near where we live wouldn’t be a problem, if the methods we used killed only them and not other living things. But that’s another rant for another day.

Anyway, I really do think we should learn to live in harmony with all living things, instead of trying to wipe them out near where we live. I mean, what’s wrong with cockroach-proofing your house, and letting those bugs live alongside you? Ultimately that’s all we can do, considering cockroaches are predicted to be around for at least as long as we are.
That’s why I think pest-proofing our homes, our crops, etc, is the best solution. In other words, I think making it so these critters can thrive without harming our homes is the best way to deal with them. After all, God made all living things to live alongside each other. I should research the different ways people can pest-proof their homes.
Another solution, of course, is taking advantage of the methods Mother Nature made to control the populations of these pests. One way of getting rid of mice and rats, for instance, is making your yard a favorable habitat for owls. I should research methods similar to that, too, for Mother Nature meant for owls to be the exterminators of rodents, not humans or domestic cats.
I know another example of taking advantage of a natural predator for pest control is making sure crops have lots of lady bugs for eating aphids. Just as owls are an important alternative to cats, which unfortunately kill smaller birds as well as rodents, ladybugs are an important alternative to pesticides, many of which will poison any living thing that comes into contact with it. That brings me back to the point I made before, which is that controlling pest populations wouldn’t be nearly as problematic if the methods we used killed only what we intended them to kill, not so many other living things, including humans in some cases. Everything is connected, and one of the many things this means is that what kills one living thing will often kill others. That is an important message to keep in mind when we want to control pests, and an important reason why it’s best to try to live in harmony with them instead.
In short, I guess humanity isn’t that similar to Voldemort. As a whole, we’re more like a dangerous beast that doesn’t know it’s own strength. I mean, we go to kill just one kind of bug that’s devouring our crops, and we end up killing a vast number of other living things in addition. It’s more that we don’t know how capable we are of killing. Or maybe we do know, but either keep forgetting or try to deny it. Maybe both, depending on the circumstances.

We Are All Responsible

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“The Earth is not dying, it is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.” This quote by Utah Philips, a folk singer and labor organizer, is true; but not in terms of what it implies. It’s true because we’re all responsible for this dying planet.

This quote, as well as shows like “Captain Planet” and other stories about environmentalism, kind of suggest otherwise. “Captain Planet,” for example, acts like the Planeteers and their followers are guiltless in terms of environmental degradation, just because they take actions that lessen their environmental footprints and encourage others to do so. The show acts like only the big bad Eco-Villains, like Hoggish Greedly, Looten Plunder, and Dr. Blight, who all have the specific goal of polluting the environment, are guilty of environmental degradation. Individuals like the Eco-Villains don’t really exist, partly because nobody has the actual goal of hurting the environment, but especially since all humans are responsible for environmental degradation, not just a select few. That’s why I don’t like Utah Philips’ quote; it implies that environmental degradation is caused by a select few human beings. If everyone keeps thinking like this, blaming environmental degradation and other world problems on individuals besides themselves, no progress will be made in solving these problems.

“Captain Planet” was also wrong to suggest that every Planeteer is without an environmental footprint. No one is without an environmental footprint, but we are all capable of lessening ours. Not just our carbon footprints; our overall environmental footprints.  We all should. The entirety of this belief, in fact, is that we are all part of the problem, but we can all be part of the solution, too. Since we’re all part of the problem, nobody really has a choice but to be part of the solution. I’m sick of people acting like they do.

I used to want to write stories like Captain Planet, where there are evil villains causing environmental degradation and guiltless environmentalists trying to stop them. My most famous idea of this sort has been “Environmental Snow White,” with the Queen as an evil CEO. This is a story I only just recently stopped toying with. Utah Philips’ quote did not make me want to go back to writing stories like this. But I do still want to use my writing to teach about environmentalism.

This belief of mine that we are all responsible for environmental degradation is summed up in a sequence of four poems I wrote.  Here is a link to those poems on one of my old blogs: http://lilyswriting.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/environmental-sequence/.  These poems had two main inspirations: an article I read on how climate change alters birds’ migratory patterns and my own belief that we are all responsible for environmental degradation. Maybe if I think more about this belief and research how climate change affects birds’ migratory patterns, I can turn these poems into a lyric essay about environmentalism.