We aren’t that remarkable

I've heard quite a few times that we, as a species, are terrible, destroying the Earth, ourselves, and that we are, all in all, the worse. That's assuming a lot. First and foremost, that we are as smart and great as we think ourselves to be.

We aren’t that remarkable
Photo by Dwinanda Nurhanif Mujito / Unsplash

Something irks me, regarding the discourse surrounding global warming. Some people say humanity is a virus. Others, that we are "the only beings capable of causing a mass extinction event all on our own."

I'm sorry, but that is plain wrong.

Not in that we aren't causing such a mass extinction event. We are.
Not because there is no climate change and global warming. There are.

But because we are just yet another lifeform wreaking havoc on it's ecosystem, eradicating a huge number of species of all kinds in the process.

The Great Oxygenation Event

It is suspected that the first Cyanobacteria may have killed most of life when they first appeared.

How? They basically started producing oxygen through photosynthesis and releasing amounts of it into the atmosphere. Oxygen, being highly reactive, started oxidizing every living thing it came in contact with, killing off most species at the time. It is also suspected of having oxidized large amounts of atmospheric methane into carbon dioxizde, weakening the atmosphere's greehouse effect and starting a series of ice ages: the Huronian Glaciation. So there you have it: a bunch of bacteria started producing oxygen because it was convenient to them and thus killed nearly all life on Earth in the process.

Bacterial colonies grown on an agar plate in combination with iron powder. Product of a school work.
Photo by Adrian Lange / Unsplash

The Devonian Extinction

And there is the very distinct chance plants may have too, at least once, perhaps twice or more, each time in a different way. In the case of the Devionian Ex, it would be the "Devonian Plant Hypothesis", where plants would have apparently done the exact opposite of what we're doing: bury massive amounts of CO2, drastically cooling the Earth.

This photo was taken in the high mountains of Adjara, Georgia, while I was doing my project there. It was summer, but the temperature didn’t feel like it. I spent most of my days standing in front of this amazing view, thinking about the life that was waiting for me back in capital. Suddenly, I  had a very strong desire to talk with the fog. Loudly. Thought it had many stories to tell too.
Trees, am I right? - Photo by Marita Kavelashvili / Unsplash

The Permian-Triassic Mass Extinction

This time around, 90% of all life on Earth is supposed to have been wiped off the face of the planet. Including over 95% of all sea species at the time.

In this case, it apparently might have been caused by an asteroid, volcanic activty, climate change (again), or... microbes. Some methane-producing bacteria's population may have simply grown explosively across the world (sounds familiar?), releasing massive amounts of methane, and thus drastically changing the climate along with the oceans' chemistry. And killing nearly all life on Earth at the time.

A friend of mine had to do some bacteria samples during her bachelor thesis. When i saw those i was instantly fascinated by the vast range of variation within this tiny microcosm.
So tiny, and yet so deadly - Photo by Michael Schiffer / Unsplash

Conclusion

We’re basically just the new kids on the block. Arrogant, full of ourselves, and convinced that we are special. We are different. Even when we make mistakes that have been made over and over again long before any human walked this Earth by living organisms that don't even have a brain.

Especially then.

Because, being so high and mighty, full of confidence in our manifest superiority, we should know better.

Well, we don't. Humanity is just a know-it-all overly proud pompous kid, with milk still dripping out it's nose.

Which doesn't make what we're doing right. It just makes us, as a species, unremarkably average.


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