We are predators

hakaOh yes we are. Right there at the top of the food chain. Yes, even those of us of a vegetarian persuasion, who abhor real furs and are all for conservation and peace and love and kindness to animals. They can afford to be so magnanimous, because they sit right here at the top, with the rest of us omnivores. We’re number one on this planet. In fact, we’re so successful as a species, we probably racked up numbers one to one thousand all to ourselves.

A simple measure of just how successful a predator you are is making a list of the five most frightful things that you believe threatening to your existence right at this moment. Go on, I’ll wait. And I’m willing to bet, dear reader, that by the time you come back, at least three out of five perils on that list are caused, or relate to fellow humans.

We used to fear rustles in the grass, shadows at the cave entrance, footprints in the snow. Now we fear chain collisions, market crashes, identity thieves. How many times per day does an average human cringe in fear of being eaten alive? I’m talking about fear based on actual fact, not the poor souls suffering from phagophobia. Unless you clean the tiger cage at the zoo, I’m guessing your answer is “not at all”.

We build our fortresses in such a way that nothing in the real world can even dream of being our hunter. We fight with mice, mosquitoes and cockroaches – pests, instead of perils. Our biggest fears are hinged on fellow humans, or natural disasters, or disease. We have no natural enemies in the real world, so we imagine unnatural ones – werewolves, vampires, aliens, perilous man-eating beasts. We tell stories about them, about how big and fearful and intelligent they are, how thirsty for our blood – and about how we still win in the end.

You know what omnivore means, right? It comes from ancient Greek. It means, literally, “eats everything”. And we do. Eat everything, that is. Some of the things we ate we probably spat out in disgust, but ate them we did. The Moa birds – we ate those into extinction. The dodos also went their merry way because of us. Our agriculture and habitats irreversibly changed ecosystems, completely destroyed others. Today’s civilization is built on oil – which is nothing but the transformed remains of long-dead organisms. That’s why it’s called “fossil” fuel.

They say love conquers all, but it’s our hunger. We’re hungry for time, we’re hungry for space. We’re hungry for knowledge, sometimes. We’re hungry for more and more resources. We’re hungry for energy. We are a hungry, hungry species, fellow humans.

And we’re well on our way to eating our planet.