Humans are a Cancer of the Earth
Earth has undeniably suffered a rapid deterioration in health over the past few centuries. The symptoms of her illness, including global warming, water pollution, and deforestation, are ever-increasing and cannot be ignored. Dr. William Hern believes he has discovered the culprit behind this malady: Homo ecophagus, a newly-coined label for the present day humans that are devouring the environment in cancer-like fashion (Dr. William Hern, p. 8). His diagnosis involves drawing parallels between a malignant neoplasm and humans. My immediate reaction after reading this thesis was to reject a proposal that so debased the human race and exacted such a harsh ...view middle of the document...
This overshoot adequately explains why one to two billion people currently live in extreme hunger, "the largest number of hungry humans ever recorded in history" (Pimenteal, 1).
We have long been aware of the damage overpopulation can wreak on humans; in response, we have attempted to limit our proliferation rate through various methods, ranging from contraceptives to governmental policies. Despite these checks, however, human populations continue to rise at alarming rates. Much like cancer, which "resists regulation and reproduces without limit," humans find themselves unable to stem their own expansion (Hern, 4). Here lies Hern's key comparison: whether the limitation method be radiation or fertility constraints, both cancer and human population growth resist regulation attempts and continue proliferation with no predictable end in sight.
2) Consumption of Neighboring Regions
As demonstrated by recent environmental deterioration, overpopulation can cause severe and oftentimes irreversible damage to the surrounding ecosystems. The long list of evidence for these effects includes deforestation, global warming, ozone depletion, air and water pollution, fossil fuel consumption and the exhaustion of agricultural lands, just to name a few.
Cities especially exemplify cancerous traits. The rate of urban population expansion surpasses the overall human population growth rate (Southwick, 168). Additionally, the dense concentration of human consumers makes cities extremely "parasitic on the surrounding lands - [they] must import food, water, air and natural resources . . . and export waste products" (Southwick, 169). Thus, cities impact not only their adjacent environment (via "some of the world's worst air and water pollution") but also affect the regions from which it imports supplies (Southwick, 169). Much like a tumor, cities feed on their surroundings to fuel their ever-increasing rate of expansion.
One of the most frightening aspects of a malignant neoplasm is its capacity to spread to satellite areas, an occurrence known as metastasis. Human population growth exhibits this same ability through colonization (Hern, 4). When pressed for resources, humans are especially adept at locating new reserve sites, even if these sites are millions of miles away. The Europeans' plundering of the New World and the damage their arrival wreaked on the American ecosystem perfectly demonstrate the dangers of human expansion to distant regions. Here, the parallels between colonial expansion and "a highly aggressive metastatic cancer" are clearly apparent (Hern, 6).
A cell not affected by cancer retains the identity of a certain tissue type. Cancer cells, however, lose this specialized tag so that all cancerous cells look generally similar. Thanks to increased communications and technology transfers, human communities around the globe have also grown less and less distinguished over time. For example,...