The phrase “a better place” with regard to the Earth is subjective. Better how? The answer to the question of whether or not the Earth would be better without humans hinges on what we mean by a better place.
Measures of “a Better Place” by Human Standards
There are several objective measures commonly used to gauge if the world is becoming a better place for humans. These include:
1. Increase in life expectancy: A rise in life expectancy indicates improved healthcare, better living conditions, and reduced mortality rates. Higher life expectancy is generally a positive sign of progress.
2. Decline in poverty rates: Reductions in global poverty rates indicate improved economic conditions, increased access to resources, and a more equitable distribution of wealth.
3. Lower infant mortality rates: A decrease in infant mortality rates signifies improvements in healthcare, nutrition, and overall living standards. It reflects efforts to ensure the well-being of the most vulnerable population.
4. Enhanced literacy rates: Rising literacy rates indicate improvements in education systems and increased access to quality education. Education is crucial for personal growth and socio-economic development.
5. Greater gender equality: Progress in achieving gender equality is measured through indicators such as female representation in political leadership, educational attainment, workforce participation, and closing gender pay gaps.
6. Decrease in violent crime rates: Declines in violent crime rates, such as homicide rates, show improvements in societal safety, justice systems, and conflict resolution mechanisms, resulting in a safer environment for individuals.
7. Improved access to clean water and sanitation: Increased access to clean water sources and sanitation facilities is a vital metric for measuring improvements in public health, reducing waterborne diseases, and enhancing overall well-being.
8. Advancements in technology and innovation: Technological progress, such as increased internet access, renewable energy solutions, and medical advancements, can be seen as objective indicators of a better world in terms of human connectivity, sustainability, and healthcare.
9. Preservation of the environment: Measures such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions, increased use of renewable energy, conservation of natural habitats, and protection of biodiversity are essential in determining progress towards a more sustainable and environmentally conscious world.
10. Decrease in global hunger: Progress in reducing global hunger and malnutrition rates signifies improvements in food production, distribution, and access, reflecting enhanced efforts to combat hunger and ensure food security.
These measures, among others, provide objective ways to assess the world’s progress and improvements in various key areas. Given this, would each of these top measures of human “planet betterness” be improved by the Earth having no humans?
An Analysis: Measures of a Better Place
Is Earth with no humans a better place for humans by the Top 10 human measures?
1: No, no people means no life expectancy
2: Yes, no people equals no poverty
3: Yes, no infants means no infant mortality
4: No, no people means zero literacy
5: Yes, no people equals complete gender equality
6: Yes, no people equals zero violent crime
7: No, no people means no access by people to clean water and sanitation
8: No, no people means no technology advancements for people
9: Unknown, having no humans may or may not help preserve the environment
10: Yes, no people equals no hunger.
Score: 4 No, 5 Yes
Right. Well, from the perspective that human suffering does not exist in non-existing humans, yes, the world would be a better place without humans. Sorry. Would you like to play again?
Wait a minute, hold on… this Earth-splitting revelation just in: if having no humans to help steward the planet would be provably worse for preserving the environment, if that “Unknown” for measure number 9 was a No, then we would have a tie, and we would be back to square one, with the answer being unknown by this yardstick.
The key question, therefore, in this framework selected to examine the question, is just this: Will an Earth without humans result in more or less conservation of natural habitats and protection of biodiversity? In the short term, the answer may be yes, but in the long term, unless our AI robots become sentient and self-repairing, and they in turn become effective at preserving remaining Earth life, the answer is no.
Can Any Non-Human Save All Other Life on Earth?
At the core of that question there is a subjective bio-centricity: the implicit view that having life on our planet is better than having no life. As we are unable to think like a non-lifeform, since non-lifeforms do not think, by our definitions, we must proceed from our subjective abstract position, we must agree that life, of some kind, is better than no life. The battle, then, is humans vs all other life on Earth.
From this perspective, just following the facts, there is currently no other life form on the Earth which is able to save the rest of all life from the coming inevitable solar destruction of our planet. Therefore, the answer is no. What this means is that humans may be destroying the planet’s environment or not at the moment, we may be in the midst of a Holocene extinction, a mass loss of biodiversity caused by human activities, but nevertheless, we may be most life form’s only hope.
Panspermia: Comet Lifeboats for DNA
We humans may be Earth life’s only hope to escape our expanding sun in the next billion years, but there is one other way that non-human life might escape the planet without human intervention. In fact, it may be why life exists on Earth at all. Never yet have we seen anyone express the view that humans created life on Earth, including themselves. There is a view with some evidence supporting it that the raw materials of life can escape planetary destruction which happens throughout the universe as stars progress in their cycles. The method of escape is that broken chunks of planetary debris get flung away from the destruction as gravity rips a planet apart. These chunks contain genetic codes and life building blocks which in some cases find themselves inside of comets where there is water and heat from radioactive elements. When these crash land on other worlds, the seeding of life begins and the process continues.
At this point, since we can not know the panspermic fate of the genetic material on earth, it still holds that to the best of our current knowledge, humans should try to continue to exist.
The Earth, and implicitly, Earth’s life, would not be better off without humans, because we are most likely to help it get to another planet when this one’s lifespan is exhausted. There you have it, now let’s do it.