In response to Robinson O.:
Are humans unique? Yes. No other gaian species is like us. No two
species are the same, as has already been pointed out.
Are humans different to the rest of life? Yes and no.
We are no different in that we depend totally on the rest of life and the
living planet for our existence. Without rocks, water, trees, bacteria,
fungi, insects, mammals ... all interacting within ecosystems we do not
exist. Similarly, without our fellows in our society, we have no
recognisable human psychlogical, mental or emotional existence. (See
accounts of children raised by animals)
But we are different in that we have created technologies which massively
extend our senses, our mental capacities and our power over other beings.
It is an indisputable fact that no other species currently alive on earth
has such powers. As I wrote earlier, this gives us awesome
In arguing that humans are infinitely greedy we swallow the economists
propaganda. Theirs is but one model of human behaviour and motivation.
One that has considerable power and attraction, but one that is
nevertheless incomplete and inadequate. Quite simply, we all have many
other motivations which may be equally or more important depending on the
context. As is always the case, if you manage a system using a particular
model, that system will gradually come to resemble the model, no matter how
poor the model was to start with. Hence economism is turning us into
insatiable consumers. But we aren't necessarily or always that way.
Hubris has always been a problem. But our difference, as outlined above,
does bring with it responsibilities even if not rights with regard to other
species and the planet.
Senior Lecturer, Centre for Water Research,
Department of Environmental Engineering,
University of Western Australia, Nedlands, W Australia 6907
Tel. 61 9 380 3082 Fax. 61 9 380 1015