Are We Humans An “Invasive Species”?

By Donald A. Collins | 9 May 2020
Church and State

(Photo: Michael Candelori / Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

The National Wildlife Federation tells us that in nature an “‘Invasive species’—they may not sound very threatening, but these invaders, large and small, have devastating effects on wildlife.”

The article continues, saying, “Invasive species are among the leading threats to native wildlife. Approximately 42 percent of threatened or endangered species are at risk due to invasive species.

“Human health and economies are also at risk from invasive species. The impacts of invasive species on our natural ecosystems and economy cost billions of dollars each year. Many of our commercial, agricultural, and recreational activities depend on healthy native ecosystems.”

The NWF article then asks a key question: What Makes a Species “Invasive”? It says:

An invasive species can be any kind of living organism—an amphibian (like the cane toad), plant, insect, fish, fungus, bacteria, or even an organism’s seeds or eggs—that is not native to an ecosystem and causes harm. They can harm the environment, the economy, or even human health. Species that grow and reproduce quickly, and spread aggressively, with potential to cause harm, are given the label “invasive.”

An invasive species does not have to come from another country. For example, lake trout are native to the Great Lakes, but are considered to be an invasive species in Yellowstone Lake in Wyoming because they compete with native cutthroat trout for habitat.”

Read the whole piece here.

So now to us:

What percentage of us in the richest country in the world are living paycheck to paycheck? Many! Are we invasive consumers? Do we think at all about our use or misuse of planetary resources? Are we aware that in my 89 years of life our human numbers have gone from 2 billion to almost 8 billion?

Jim Kramer, my favorite stock market voice who hosts Mad Money beginning at 6 pm Eastern time on CNBC, was interviewing the CEO of a company that makes ersatz meat, called Beyond Meat.

Meat shortages are increasing and likely to continue even if the meat producers now shut down comes back.

Jim’s question to the ersatz meat guy was roughly as I recall, “Can your firm ramp up to meet the increased demand?” After which Jim noted in an almost sidebar comment that the planet will have 10 billion people by 2050. As if that meant nothing but more good growth.

We know the world’s aquafers are being rapidly depleted and desertification is a common phenomenon around the world but still the call for more growth is unceasing!

On TV one morning recently the announcer bemoaned the fact that big African Game park tourism was down but now it has been replaced by virtual game tours where guides go out and film what they find and simulcast it for paying at home clients.

The media daily shows us scenes of the growing anger of unserved millions of people, but achievable fixes for their plight are not offered even though we know that more violence and civil disruption is spreading rapidly.

That the UN, as I have suggested in an earlier piece, might convene a major world powers meeting. Purpose: To frankly discuss these burgeoning troubles which have not been mentioned by any major leader amid the daily reports of sniping back and forth between the US and China and nasty personal attacks on public figures.

Limits to growth are exhibited everywhere, as at least half the world’s nearly 8 billion humans vie for the necessities of life. And endless growth on our finite planet still remains the priority mantra of businesses everywhere.

Are we humans “an invasive species”? Isn’t the answer obvious to anyone who thinks about it? Are our leaders too frightened to be honest about telling us the facts?

Oh, by the way, originality is not what I am claiming here. Another piece with almost this same title was published in the NY Times on December 6, 2017. You can read it here.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013

By Donald A. Collins
Publisher: Church and State Press (July 30, 2014)
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  1. As I understand it, people will die of starvation when we run out of food; they will die of thirst when we run out of water; and then world population will fall, and we humans will be less invasive, less of a threat to other species. And so it goes on. Let's stop worrying so much.

  2. It’s a strawman to say endless growth on earth and poverty continues to decline each year. At current rates poverty won’t exist by 2030 and UN development goals are on track.

  3. I agree with Don Collins' premise and have written about it in a different form–, the novel. Death by Internet, has to do with how subsets of our species have decimated Native populations. In my story, it has to do with the Sioux in South Dakota, and how they are repeatedly beat down by US economic and political power. Natives generally were almost moved to extinction after Cortez’s and Pizarro’s virus-laden invasions of the Americas. The indigenous population plummeted by an estimated 80% in the first century and a half following Columbus's voyages–which brings to mind today’s pandemic, and how it is ravaging the Navajo population in New Mexico. I lived more than a few years in Nebraska and South Dakota, met many Natives who worked in the slaughter houses, when I was on the board of the American Indian Center in Sioux City. These poor people have no choice but to accept the risk, and suffer the consequences.


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