Homo sapiens — the rightless animal?
(on humanitarian disaster of a global scale)
Disclaimer: Dear readers, here we have attempted
to tell you a picturesque story of how it happened that modern Homo sapiens lost
their major natural rights. We wrote this text in hope that it might be of interest
to even those of you whose hearts are followed by minds and not the other way round as in our target reader.
A.M. Makarieva, V.G. Gorshkov, 14 February 2009.
Makarieva A.M., Gorshkov V.G., Li B.-L. (2011) Have ecological human rights been globally lost? A conflict of ecological spatial requirements and cultural landscape opportunities in the modern Homo sapiens. "Landscape Ecology in Asian Cultures" (Eds. Hong S.-K., Wu J., Kim J.-E., Nakagoshi N.) Ecological Research Monographs, 2011, Part I, 129-137.
1. Introduction: What determines natural human rights
Something wrong is in the air with the Humanity. What is this and how this should be fought with before it is too late is the issue that bothers millions of people around the globe. Here we will argue that the essence of the catastrophe is that Humans have lost some major rights implied by their biological and ecological design.
Apparently, all living beings, with humans being no exception, are designed to eat and to drink. Accordingly, the rights for food and water are the primary rights reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If we look at the Humanity on a global scale, we will see that some biological rights are largely preserved, although increasingly threatened:
- the right to breathe,
- the right for comfortable ambient temperature,
- the right for food,
- the right for water.
But here we will give scientific evidence that several more natural human rights, as inherent as the above, have been globally lost. We termed them ecological human rights; these are
- the right for individual territory,
- the right for social significance,
- the right for human virtues.
Generally, rights of living creatures follow directly from, and are dictated by, their design and natural needs. A bird is designed to fly, a fish is designed to swim. Accordingly, they have the right for the sky and for the river, respectively.
What is the biological design of humans? Answer to this question will determine natural human rights.
2. Humans are designed to move and have the right
for an individual territory of four square kilometers
The power of human body is equal to approximately 100 Watts. This is the power of two reading bulbs. This power, which is called metabolic power, is used to support all biochemical processes within the human body. The energy comes with food. Food is provided by the biosphere.
The biosphere receives all energy from the Sun. Green plants convert some part of solar energy into organic matter, which is used as food by humans and other animals. Mean global productivity of the biosphere is about half a Watt per square meter. This is a very low power. It cannot satisfy a human body, which demands thousands times more per the same area.
From these two fundamental parameters, the metabolic power of human body and the productivity of the biosphere, we conclude unambiguously that human beings must move and collect organic matter that is produced on a very large territory. Obviously, this territory must be protected against competitors. In other words, humans are designed to move and possess a large individually controlled territory.
Humans are not unique in this design. The right for individual territory is invariably respected in all natural species of animals. There is a fundamental dependence between the body size and the size of individual territory in animals. Home range area grows approximately proportionally to body mass, Fig. 1. Small animals like mice and shrews are granted with small territories of several hundred square meters. The largest animals like elephants or rhinoceros or some large predators defend individiual territories that can exceed several hundred square kilometers.
Fig. 1. The dependence of individual territory on body mass in mammals. Green and black squares denote herbivores and carnivores, respectively. After Kelt and Van Vuren (2001). Red squares denote the natural territory allocated to Homo sapiens (the upper one) and mean individual territory of modern humans (the lower one).
And only in humans this right has been dramatically violated. The unprecedented explosive growth of human population during the last two centuries has resulted in the situation when an average human being can control a territory of no more than a hundred square meters. Of such a small individual territory even some rodents would be ashamed.
3. Major right lost: Consequences
Deprived of air, human beings perish in a few minutes. Deprived of water, human beings perish in a few days. Deprived of food, human beings perish in a few weeks. Deprived of individual territory, human beings are not human beings.
The fundamental nature of the right for individual territory can be traced in all aspects of human existence. What is the main punishment applied to Homo sapiens? Territory deprivation. Vice versa, the highest peaks of human spirit can be reached in solitude when the individual commands a very large territory. Not incidentally, many saints and sacred figures in world religions are known to have reached their perfection in solitude, like, for example, the famous Russian Saint Sergius Radonezhskii.
Another sign of the vital importance of territory for the human beings is manifested in the love of humans for traveling. Whenever free from their obligatory work, the majority of people choose to travel. They try to compensate lack of individual territory by the illusion of vast, although shared, space available to them when they travel.
Given the vitality of territory for the human design, it can be expected that the global loss of this inherent right will profoundly affect human performance and well-being. To realize how many terrible features in the modern civilization stem from the loss of this right, one can monitor the consequences of natural animals being deprived of their territory.
The fact that one does not have a sufficient individual territory signals to the individual about his low social status, results in humiliation and reduced biological performance. A comprehensive study of captive black rhinoceros that are notorious for their poor reproduction in captivity revealed the following. Those rhinoceros who were kept in closed cells with non-transparent walls reproduced worst of all. Both male potency and female reproductive capacity were the lowest. In contrast, those animals that could at least see a large free territory from their enclosures with transparent walls — all reproduced better. These findings, confirmed in many other species, including, for example, the tiny jerboas, indicate that the command of individual territory has a profound physiological significance which can be communicated by visual signals. Looking at the modern humanity, do not we notice a very similar pandemic of sexual disorders? People world over are losing the happiness of sexual life and the ability to leave health progeny. The parallel with territory-deprived animals is straightforward.
Deprived of individual territory, rhinos become infertile.
Another manifestation of the global loss of the right for territory, and this manifestation cries out, is the unnatural aggressiveness of our species. Massive killing of conspecifics is absent in any other species except Homo sapiens. Homo sapiens is an unbeaten and unrivaled champion of atrocities in the animal world. Terrorism, extremism all drink from this source.
To summarize, humans are not mice and cannot normally exist and implement their design on tiny spots. We are not bad, we are deeply unhappy.
The natural territory that is prescribed by the human design is of the order of 4 square kilometers. Four square kilometers of quieteness and relaxation, of solitude, of communication with nature, four square kilometers of home. Are there many people among those reading these lines who have experienced this at least once in their lives? (=Are there many birds among birds who could fly at least once?)