We have a little war going on in this thread. Some people are arguing that we shouldn’t assume human beings are the most important creatures bar none around, while other people are angry that Eric Pianka would have such high regard for other organisms on Earth and would urge us to make room and restrict our population.
I’m personally more sympathetic to the egalitarian view that denies humanity a privileged position, except in our own personal esteem, but OK, let’s play the game. Let’s assume that human beings are the most important, most precious, most essential species on the entire planet—heck, the entire Universe. We must do everything in our power to guarantee their safety and prosperity. I will simply and unilaterally defer to the other side’s opinion.
What should we do to maximize the health and happiness of the human race? What are the selfish, self-centered actions that we ought to carry out to make the largest number of people maximally happy for the longest period of time?
I’m afraid that even with my immense concession, your best answer is to listen to the “enviro-wackos”. They’re the ones thinking in the long term about sustainability and diversity. They’re the ones trained to understand all the interactions going on on a healthy planet, who not only appreciate the totality of life here, but are even aware of the rich species diversity here. They’re the ones who realize you can’t pave the planet and use the oceans for a sewer, and expect humanity to survive.
Do you even understand the argument? I’m not saying that we need to preserve the snail darter because it is a valuable organism in and of itself, but because we are screwing over ourselves when we smash and poison our environment to such a degree that as innocuous a creature as a small fish is unable to survive. I’m being greedy, not altruistic. It’s a position both sides ought to understand.
People are trying to argue that we are not currently overpopulated, which is ludicrous. We’re seeing rapid habitat destruction and a wave of extinctions all around the globe; we’re seeing environmental catastrophes that are killing people. If we were in a sustainable balance with our fellow species, we would not be seeing these ongoing and irreversible losses. If your priority is humanity über alles, are you working to conserve energy and slow global warming? Why not? Do you realize that pumping CO2 into the atmosphere and overfishing the oceans and deforesting the tropics is going to reduce the number of people who can live here in peace and prosperity?
It’s exasperating to see so many people pretending that holding humanity in the highest esteem means you’ve got the right to trash your home…your only home.