Homo Ecophagus: A Deep Diagnosis to Save the Earth
Homo Ecophagus by Warren M. Hern is a wide-ranging look at the major problems for the survival of not just the human species, but all other species on Earth due to human activities over the past tens of thousands years. The title of the book indicates Hern’s new name for the human species: “The man who devours the ecosystem.”
Over the course of its evolution, Hern observes, humans have evolved cultures and adaptations that have now become malignant and that the human species, at the global level, has all the major characteristics of a malignant neoplasm – converting all plant, animal, organic, and inorganic material into human biomass or its adaptive adjuncts and support systems. Hern contends that this process is incompatible with continued survival of the human species and most other species on the planet, offering a diagnosis and prognosis of the current environmental impasse.
Excerpts from Homo Ecophagus: A Deep Diagnosis to Save the Earth* by Warren M. Hern
This book is dedicated to the Earth and to the memory of all
the living things we have destroyed
in becoming Homo ecophagus
This book is the result of decades of observation, study, and increasing despair as I have watched much of the Earth being transformed in my own short life span. It is the result of looking back and reflecting on lived experience. Some of it was lived as I was unknowingly being part of this process of transformation and destruction. Some of it was lived as I enjoyed and reveled in the exquisite beauty and wonder of the natural world. Some of it was lived witnessing and horrified by the destruction happening before my eyes. These are indelible experiences.
Nothing can replace what we have destroyed and what we are destroying at an increasingly relentless and furious pace.
Is there hope? There is no hope without understanding. This is my miniscule contribution to understanding what the human species is doing to the planet Earth and what we have become as a species. In my opinion, only by understanding that can we see how to preserve what is left of our own life support system not to mention the breathtaking and almost incomprehensible complexity of the natural world that evolved long before our brief recent appearance as a species on Earth.
It is my firm view and conviction that, unless we understand these things and act on that understanding immediately, we will not survive much longer as a species. These warnings have been given by others with different perspectives about the same set of developing facts but with perhaps more optimism. These are not new observations or warnings, but here is another one that is based on a global diagnosis, which is different from a list of horribles to contemplate. The diagnosis is grim, and that’s why urgent action is needed in order to diminish the likelihood of the grim prognosis.
Warren M. Hern
December 1, 2021
We humans are conducting an uncontrolled experiment on the global ecosystem, which, as far as we can tell, is unique in the universe in the qualities that sustain life. If there are other planets with the same qualities, they are too far away and inaccessible to matter. If we screw this up, it’s over.
Some portions of this treatise delve into the technical details, close arguments and mathematics that support an understanding of the basic horrifying idea that the human species shows the overall characteristics of a global malignant process – a cancer on the planet. Some ideas are, by their nature, unpopular and unwelcome. This is one of them.
This book is the biography of an idea, an account of how I found it. It was a process of discovery over time and from very different perspectives within my own life. There have been many personal experiences and professional activities that inform and have shaped the conclusions that I present here. Some of the details of my experiences are included not only to show the kinds of things that caused me to be open to this idea but to show the evolution of my thinking in the context of new observations and insights.
We are faced with colossal issues of both uncontrolled population growth and the control of human fertility, and that brings us to women’s health, family health, and issues of reproductive freedom. That is my area of professional expertise as a physician. I include some details of my experiences in this work to help the reader understand the daily realities of what this means.
I examine what it means to say that the human species represents a malignant process on the planet, and I discuss the implications for the future. I ask basic questions: Do we want to survive on this planet or not? There is no alternative. Our choice at the moment on the basis of what we are doing appears to be extinction. Can we make a different choice? How?
*Routledge Press, 2022 © Warren Martin Hern, 2022
Learn more and get the book here.
Warren M. Hern, MD, is a practicing physician in Boulder, Colorado, where he is also on the anthropology faculty at the University of Colorado. He holds a Master of Public Health degree and a PhD in epidemiology. His clinical and epidemiologic research has been published widely in scientific and medical journals, including BioScience and Population Studies. His public advocacy of reproductive rights has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, CBS’ 60 Minutes, and other prominent venues. He has conducted decades of research in fertility and population trends based in the Peruvian Amazon.
It’s a provable fact that humans fit the medical definition of being a cancerous tumor on the Earth: an out-of-control growth that consumes the host. Of course most people deny this, because 1) they’re human supremacists (aka anthropocentric); and 2) no one wants to think of themselves like that.
However we characterize the situation, we have to convince people that there are far too many of us and that we are living so wrongfully and unnaturally that we’re killing and destroying everyone (human supremacists would say “everything”). Next we have to convince people that we have to fix these things by taking strong actions as soon as possible, which will require making some sacrifices. In order to feel and think this way and to make the appropriate changes, people will need to evolve (or advance) mentally and spiritually. People who see and feel the oneness of everyone/everything, who feel empathy with all life, and who are wise, don’t kill and destroy the natural world; but people who see the world through the false duality of separateness, who are self-centered with no empathy for others, and who are foolish, will do those things. So in the end, that’s what we have to fix. If people don’t evolve mentally and spiritually, it’s over, as Warren Hern put it.Reply