“If only we can overcome cruelty, to human and animal, with love and compassion we shall stand at the threshold of a new era in human moral and spiritual evolution - and realize, at last, our most unique quality: humanity.” Jane Goodall
Humans are at a critical stage of survival on this planet. As a result of ignoring the warning signs, including climate change, species extinction, pollution, caused by human inference with all the planet’s ecosystems, humanity has come to a critical mass of real extinction. We have come to a stage where the free assistance of species in ecosystems has no value to humanity; however, all species, especially whales, provide a highly valuable resource we can no longer ignore. The impact of humanity must work toward a new goal, that which we have not been accustomed to, that of helping the species that help us survive. We must stand up for each other in a way that defies the past by going forward into the future by not just appreciating life on this planet, but instead change our habits to protecting it, all of it, from large whales to tiny microscopic organisms.
“Earth’s sixth mass extinction”, resulting from the loss of many ecosystem functions humans depend on, coupled with the growing human population, are all well recorded in the stress, “near collapse, or total collapse” of many of the world’s natural resources including extensive loss of habitat (Boumans et al, 2015).
The present state of the planet has challenged scientists and decision-makers to reassess how we comprehend the “structure, organization, and functional capacity of our systems” creating the emergence for a new concept for understanding the world (Boumans et al, 2015).
Instead of engaging the idea that the natural and human systems are separate, there is instead an acknowledgment that each subsystem is embedded within the other (Boumans et al, 2015).
(credit: Maria Lisa Polegatto)
The Anthropocene era, the current geological age that takes note of the impact of human activity, is the result of destructive colonialist projects and the combination of the Industrial Revolution with the worldview of free enterprise that views nature as a resource to be exploited (TallBear, 2011).
Western sciences, including that of social sciences and indigenous knowledge, are viewing an ethnography of multi species suggesting nonhumans, including animals, plants, fungi and microbes, instead of having interactions with humans and being thought of as killable, are now viewed of as being on the same level as humans in our biosphere with lives that have both biography and political aspects that further have a force in our:
- cultural (TallBear, 2011) and
- social relationships (Todd et al, 2014).
The relationship between humans and animals is based on the capacity of similarity for suffering with animals being able to be seen by humans as a distinct individual that humans can look in the eyes and have an animal stare right back at a human (Zhu et al, 2019).