Abyss between humans and other species.

Why is there such a gigantic gap between human and the rest of the species, inhibiting our plant. Why is there no gradient, no intermediate steps? The answer might seem quite obvious but I never saw a scientifically based arguments trustfully explaining this phenomena.

Another question (may be it ought to be asked in a different post):

What are we good for?

The second question should be addressed in geological perspective and  humans must be considered to be just a single species, one among hundreds of millions of others. In geological terms we are here since just a blink of a second. Check this wonderful picture from Wikipedia:

the link to full size: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geological_time

There is not a single species besides homo sapience that makes harm to our planet. But there is something that makes us think we are so good that have moral or whatever right to scarify everything else. What is it?

Religion gives us a very good explanation: god created all the animals for us to eat. So that when we serve god we do not have to starve from hunger. Of course I don’t buy a single word what religion says. Any other explanations?

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Upon what basis do you claim that there is such a gigantic gap? Just what does this gap?
We're not that special, except in being able to affect a far greater area than the local environment.

Actually upon this: far far far greater..

In the geologic time scale you ask the reader to consider, nothing.

I think this is quite precise answer

Rabbits. Locusts. Any species can cause such harm, whether at plague population or not.

Have you ever seen a spot which was cleared by locusts and about which one could sadly say:
"Oh my, here was a beautiful meadow.. It will never ever restore to its original state!"
On the other hand did you ever see a place on earth where for example the forest which was cut centuries ago would grow back to its pristine condition and the whole local ecosystem would return to its normal life?
Yes, these all are really beautiful efforts. But I wasn't talking about zoos, national park and any other attempts to protect existing wild areas. I was talking about the nature coming back to the sites which were claimed by man. Such examples are really few and insignificant (the best I know is Chernobyl)
This is excerpt from the one link you just gave me (Ecosystem restoration):

The problem is that we cannot restore an ecosystem to the exact same state it was in before we disturbed it. This is because, as Anthony Bradshaw claims, “ecosystems are not static, but in a state of dynamic equilibrium…. [with restoration] we aim [for a] moving target.”
Actually I know one good strategy: I think it was founded with the help of David Attenborrough it is a trust that buys land in tropical forest and simply does nothing with it, just owns. Thats the best preservation strategy I suppose!
> we just have slightly better cognitive abilities...

This is an unacceptable position which seems to be removing responsibilities. Yes, morality is human created and this is why we are discussing this or any other topics here while bacteria do not.

Check your scales…
Well, physiologically we animals. Any surgeon can readily confirm this. Although few of us think of themselves as animals. What makes us different is our brain. It enables us to make tools. With tools we survive and conquer. This is our way. Animals try to adopt themselves to the environment we try to adopt environment to us. Here is that very big difference of which I was talking as of an abyss.

I was hoping to start discussion on the topic what may be inside our brain that makes it so different, what brings us to the next level
Just look around: how many chimpanzees do you see? Especially those who would write an article on how humans remind them themselves ;-)
Well, they didn't make it. The question is why (if they are so reminiscent of their more successful offspring)?

This is my question, not the ability to use sticks. By the way, there are other animals who are using sticks. Birds for example. Some populations of crows use sticks to pick out maggots from cracks in tree trunks. In broader sense examples are even more numerous. Bird nest is a tool, termite mound is a tool, amazonian dolphins use stones during mating etc etc. Examples are unlimited. None of them rivals man in any way. However good they can play with their sticks it will not make them fly to space.

Please understand that I don't want to humiliate animals. There are few people who love animals more than I do.
How can one say we are not part of the nature or not animals? That would be the craziest thing to do. Of course we are all that. I have enormous passion for the nature (the part of which we all are) and I’m in a constant grief because of it’s diminish.

Jacob Bronowski used to say that man is not a figure in the landscape but he is the shaper of the landscape. His 1973 The Ascent of Man is a wonderful documentary. But today I’d rather say that the man is the destroyer of the landscape.

So what makes us so special that we can survive in this our part of nature only by destroying it? Why getting honey and maggots with a stick was not enough?

It is quite obvious that all living organism on our planet are controlled by nature. If your adaptations are not good enough sorry, you ought to go extinct. Man is the only exception. Man managed to escape from this control. Man changes environment to fit his needs and not adopts himself in order to fit the environment. Of course one can say that our mental power is in fact our adaptation to the nature (natural/unnatural adaptation). But this is precisely what I’m talking about!

What exactly is this adaptation and why does it inevitably leads to the destruction of the nature (in the historical perspective)?

Of course I have to admit the point that according to the second low of thermodynamics the planet is doomed anyway but still, in a shorter range of time, why?
> Alexey - you are inconsistent. First you say we are part of nature and that we are animals. Then you say that man is the "exception" and we have escaped it's control. I recommend you decide what this thing is that you call "nature."

When winter comes animals (other animals) start to grow their fur or move to warm locations or hibernate. Human animals stay but turn the heating on. Winters do not get colder but the heating systems and houses are getting better. So in this case it is not the environmental that is causing these changes.

> Many people fall into a trap of thinking nature is some kind of pristine and idyllic state of the environment that is not touched by humans. Well, nature is not pristine and it is not pure or virtuous. It just is.

Put few grubs in a jar filled with wheat powder. They start to eat and propagate. Whet their numbers reach the capacity of the wheat supplies their start to eat each other. In the end there is no living grub in the jar as well as there is no powder. Relative to grubs the powder was their environment. I repeat - relative to grubs because environment is something that surrounds its inhabitants. In this example we have to states of the environment - before grubs and after them. Depending on one’s philosophical point of view it is possible to prefer either of them. I personally do like the first one.

> What do you mean by this: "What exactly is this adaptation and why does it inevitably leads to the destruction of the nature (in the historical perspective)?"

This question concerns higher nervous activity of human brain. Probably I was better asking it somewhere else.

> What inevitable destruction are you talking about?

In the previous example grubs would never fail to finish up all the wheat supply. It seems to me are no better in this respect

> Why are humans seen as destroying the environment while other creatures are seen as part of the environment?

A very unexpected question. Answer is all around.

> What was the ideal state of the environment? Perhaps the ideal state of the environment was hundreds of millions of years ago before there was any oxygen in the atmosphere. Why not?

Relative to us - not, relative to anaerobic bacteria - very

> This state existed before there were any animals. Why is this not an ideal historical natural state?

From whose point of view?
"There are few people who love animals more than I do." Why does this sound so familiar? Oh! It sounds like bigots who always say,"Some of my best friends are negros!" When people tell me they LOVE animals, usually after saying something suggesting they don't, I always want to ask, "With ketchup, or steak sauce?"
Tell me I'm wrong.
I think that in majority of situations you would be right and I also think you love animals (with ketchup, or steak sauce I don't know).

My seeming inconsistency might be explained by the fact that I wasn't going to discuss the fact that man and other animals are different. My initial idea was to talk about this difference and its implications for the environment and future of our planet.

What I definitely wasn’t going to do is to compare man and other animals in terms of who is better or has more value of any sort. If you understood me that way then sorry for being not enough clear.




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