What I’m getting at here is the ability that we have—and, among “living” things, only humans have this profound facility—to change the equation by which other species endure and interact within Nature; in short, I’m referring to the fact that we hold sway over the underpinnings by which other living components of Nature are permitted to deal with/compete with one another. For instance, we may recognize that species A’s numbers have been dwindling, perchance considerably, for reasons we have yet to comprehend. We may likewise discover that species B has ostensibly been preying upon species A to an extent we have never before witnessed. We surmise that, should this behavior continue, species B will almost surely eradicate species A altogether. So, my question is, “Given this information, do we have an obligation to intervene, somehow, and ensure species A’s survival, or do we step back and allow Nature to be, well, Nature?”
Of course, there are far too many unknowns in this scenario. For instance, did species A at one time prey upon species B, and now species B is merely behaving according to some sort of “natural payback mechanism” as a result of past experience? Or did species B turn to species A as a food source because species A destroyed species C, species B’s former food source? Or did we—intentionally or inadvertently—obliterate species C, which then forced species B to turn to species A out of desperation? And if we go ahead and intervene, and prohibit species B from annihilating species A any further—irrespective as to why the present-day situation exists—will that have beneficial results or additional, unanticipated consequences toward species A, toward species B, or maybe even toward some other species (animal or otherwise) down the road?
If we answer “yes,” we should get drawn in to what we perceive to be a problem, does that mean we have the right to control Nature? Many would argue that the human (mis)treatment of Nature is the very reason we face so many environmental catastrophes today. Or, if we answer “no,” we should never get involved, does that suggest that, no matter what, we should simply let Nature takes its course and “come what may”? And, if that’s indeed the right answer—to do nothing—then why do we care what other humans do to Nature? Why intervene and stop people from destroying a part of Nature while saying it’s fine for another part of Nature (and remember we, too, are animals and a part of Nature) to go ahead and exterminate a portion of Nature? To put that in context, why do we care about humans poaching animals, for example, while we appear to care little or nothing about animals that kill—and sometimes wipe out—other animals? Is it because we’ve concluded that humans ought to know better? Why? Are we not animals, ourselves? Are we not just one more component part of Nature? Beyond religious/moral belief systems, why should we behave any differently than any other animal, which means to act on impulse, or what some might label as acting instinctively?
There are no simple, universal answers to such questions. Nonetheless, I believe such inquiries are essential to chew over because, if for no other reason, we have to be cognizant of the reality—an exceedingly daunting reality—that whatever we do/don’t do will have consequences because there’s absolutely no such thing as remaining neutral when it comes to Nature.