‘Earth is Better Off Without Humans’ Is Not Helping

How might we uncover the life-giving, omnibeneficence of being human?

Bowie Yin Sum Kung
4 min readJul 2, 2023
Busy streets filled with people. Is Earth better off without us? (Photo by Alex Block on Unsplash)

‘Earth is Better Off Without Humans.’ How many times have we heard it — or said it ourselves — in the past few years? But have we really examined what this statement means?

This statement makes many premises. But primarily, it means to negate our existence. It brings feelings of regret and guilt. It posits that all humans bring destruction. How could we turn this statement around to lead with love, possibility, and joy? Thinking that earth is better off without humans gives us license to blame someone for the current situation; indeed, we are to blame, but blame takes away accountability. What action would we take from this mindset? Commit suicide, mass genocide? Certainly not. If we will keep living our short human lives, why not do something good with it, hold hope, create new possibilities and honour old ways for future generations, rather than pound our own existence with actionless guilt?

In her Medium article titled Why Human Are a Non-Expendable Keystone Species, Carol Sanford writes:

‘it misses an essential point and diverts us away from what is true, genuinely urgent… Educating humans to the fact that we, ourselves, are natural beings, collectively a natural species, with essential, pressing work to do in our lifesheds and communities, is skipped completely in families, schools, religious institutions, and work places. Using the false premise as an alarm doesn’t get the job done; it only contributes to the threat of environmental collapse.’

Humans are not inherent destroyers

There is an honour, a purpose, a beauty of being human. Just as other beings have their intricate way of living and creating life by simply being, we can too. We do too. Beavers, in building their homes, create speed bumps in streams that slow down the flow of water, decreasing erosion and preventing flooding from storms. Wolves, in hunting deer and elk, help keep their populations in check and allow plants to grow, providing shelter and food for many other critters. Even cockroaches, in eating decaying matter, make sure nutrients are recycled back into the food chain and, in turn, become food for lizards, rats, and other insects.

So what’s our purpose? By understanding our role in the living system, putting aside any anthropocentric worldviews and ego of human domination over nature, and seeing all other species as equal, we may be able to uncover our life-regenerating potential.

We all have life-regenerating potential. We are nature. (Photo by Liv Bruce on Unsplash)

We embody the answers

Realising our role in the living system here on Mother Earth means healing our identity. What do YOU mean to YOU? What do YOU mean to Mother Earth? We won’t be able to find any answers in the current, mainstream capitalistic system. Indeed, we cannot hope to find solutions in the very system that created and continue to create the problems.

Your body is a landscape. We already embody regeneration. Imagine all the toxins our livers and kidneys are able to excrete from our bodies. All our hormones and neurotransmitters that constantly and consistently regulate our internal environment. A mother’s ability to create and nurture life. How might we apply all this to the current socio-environmental, planet-level crisis?

We need to (re)learn how to ask our body for answers, for our body is a volume thicker than any encyclopaedia that contains millenia and millenia of ancestral wisdom from Mother Earth herself. We need to get out of our heads, out of spiritual gluttony, out of soul-searching vacations, and into a curious inquisition and radical self-trust within ourselves, that we may provide the answers we need.

How might we find our life-regenerating ways?

Pat McCabe (Weyakpa Najin Win, Woman Stands Shining), a Diné (Navajo) mother, grandmother, activist, artist, writer, ceremonial leader, and international speaker, asks herself everyday this: ‘How can I participate fully to my highest potential in living in love, light, and life?’

Pat McCabe (Weyakpa Najin Win, Woman Stands Shining) (Photo from https://www.patmccabe.net/blog)

Reconnect with life.
Reconnect with self.
Ask Mother Earth for guidance.

We spend a lot of energy holding down the sadness or anger or guilt of planetary and eco-social collapse. Instead of holding it in, when we feel it, we could liberate the energy and do something with it. Emotions tell us something. It’s our connection with life itself. It’s a sort of truth speaking to ourselves. Many people liken emotions to the element of water. Letting emotions move and flow creates health. A body of water that doesn’t flow becomes stagnant and sick.

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Bowie Yin Sum Kung

I write about regenerative practices, climate and social justice, decolonial and alternative economies, economies that heal, and the wonders of nature.