The Price of Our Meddling

Humans and Animals

The+Price+of+Our+Meddling

Humans are masters of playing God.

We have altered the world in more ways that we can ever hope to count. We have made plants and animals into monstrous versions of themselves. We have chosen what animals get to live and which get to die. We have completely changed the course of evolution. And there are far, far more dramatic examples around the world. The price of all this is only now beginning to show and unfortunately it’s a rather steep price.

In 1986, Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor Number Four went critical. It spewed tons of radioactive debris into the environment. When it stopped, the entire area had to be evacuated. Nearly 50,000 people from the nearby city of Pripyat were told to take only necessary items because they would be coming back in a few days. Pripyat has been abandoned for over 30 years. Despite the obvious risks, Russia continued to operate the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant until the 2000’s. Chernobyl and the surrounding area won’t be habitable for humans for another 20,000 years. The radioactive dust spread around the world, causing cancer in humans and animals alike. The trees around the reactor turned rust red, and in the depths of the reactor itself, there is a mass so radioactive that if anything stood near it for more than an hour, it would die within days due to radiation poisoning. Humans get to reap the rewards of our risks but everything we share the planet with only experiences the consequences of our failures.Another one of our failures was Centralia, Pennsylvania. In 1962, the coal town’s dump was set on fire. What the people of Centralia didn’t anticipate was the coal seam in their town  ran directly under the landfill. It ignited and has been burning underneath the town ever since. The burning coal releases massive emissions of carbon dioxide, especially because the coal under Centralia is about 97% percent carbon, which is about 17% more than regular coal.

If you are looking for an example of humanity deliberately harming another species look no further than the English Bulldog. A Bulldog has a comically short muzzle and almost useless teeth, which would make it worse than useless in nature. It’s head is too large for its mothers birth canal and because of that a bulldog has to be birthed through a cesarean section. The fact that the Bulldog exists is almost animal abuse. However, because humans decided that health problems were cute, they encourage this. We have literally undone evolution and natural selection for the sake of a genetic monstrosity.  The creation of a Bulldog was an uneducated mistake, we simply didn’t know better.

Luke Campbell
A bulldog skull compared to a coyote skull to show the mutations of the the genetics.

However, the contamination of the Pacific Garbage patch is a different story. The Garbage Patch is the result of the combination of mistakes and willful ignorance. We have no excuse for the devastation we cause. The ocean’s currents have pushed plastic and oil into massive, toxic patches. Even if people deny climate change, this is a physical and observable problem. Huge numbers of dolphins, turtles, and whales are dying because we refuse to control our trash. Yet, we continue to deny that we are having a negative impact on our environment.

We are destroying our oceans, our land, our air and we are harming innocent organisms that adapt as fast as they can, but aren’t quick enough. However, the human race has avoided claiming responsibility, and nobody is truly innocent. We have chosen this for our planet. We were complicit in watching companies and governments destroy the very thing that made it possible for us to live: the environment.

Children are taught empathy, everyone is told to treat other people with respect and not to harm them. When we reach adulthood we are expected to act accordingly. As a species we are entering adulthood, and we no longer can afford to ignore the fact that we are negatively affecting our planet and the other organisms that inhabit it. The need has never been greater, nor have the stakes ever been higher, and it’s time we start acting like adults to our planet. This is the price of our meddling. If we want to govern over the planet we have to govern it with responsibility, respect and accountability.