A friend texted me the other day "Do you believe humans can ruin the Earth?" What a question for a text message. I replied that there's no right or wrong way for the Earth to be, but humans act in parasitic way. Then we die and the Earth changes again. Even if we raise the temperature of the atmosphere to the detriment of many other species, we'll eventually die off and things will return to pre-human levels. What a nice thought.
Humans have existed for such a short period of time that we only want the Earth to exist as it has for the past 50,000 years or so, when in fact it is an always changing place, but on a time scale such that we're oblivious to it. Not factually oblivious, we know what happened when, we know the numbers, but devoid of practical knowledge.
It's an interesting thought, I think. I know, of course it is bad to pump chemicals from our factories into nature, but people talk about human pollution as if we are not of this planet, that we are not of the nature we are harming. I've never truly understood the notion of natural versus artificial, because anything artificial is create from ingredients initially harvested from nature. I realize that's as an effectual argument as saying, well heck, it's all atoms anyway!
People love all-natural food, of course. Locally grown, all that. I think giant factory farms are probably a dozen times more efficient, in terms of output and the use of energy, than any hand-grown vegetable. That is why they make money, that is why they are scaled so large. Humanity has evolved based on the efficiency of its farms, but now people are embracing less-efficient food production under the theory that its actually better for the environment or better for you or might be better tasting. I really don't buy it.
[Small update: I am aware this is a very complex issue. I also want you to know I couldn't be more ignorant about food production. But in terms of output efficiency, I believe giant robot farms are inherently more productive].
Some people look at the bread aisle in a grocery store and scoff at the dozen different varieties of plain white bread, as if its all so impersonal, so unnatural, as if to lament the good old days when you'd go the bakery to buy a single hand-kneaded loaf. I know that sounds nice. It is. But the efficiency of our production abilities allows us to have hundreds of identical loaves always in stock, always free of mold, always ready to be eaten. THAT is progress and some people perceive it as regression. Natural foods are a LUXURY because they are ineffecient; that is what I want to say.
My real point is that humans are just mean monkeys.