the film
Commentaries and editorials

Humans' Role on Earth

by Ralph Averill

New York Times, January 18, 2005

(John Klicker, The New York Times) Two children watching a salmon pass by at a dam in Portland, Ore. To the Editor:

"Deadly Yet Necessary, Quakes Renew the Planet" (Jan. 11) makes the point that earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and floods are all part of the life-giving processes at work on Earth.

A strong argument has been made that Earth is a living organism itself, evolving constantly.

Not only does it regenerate its life-giving skin and atmosphere with plate tectonics, it controls its temperature with ocean and air currents.

This leads to a philosophical question: What role do humans play in the planet's evolution? Are we an integral part of the life of the planet? Or are we a parasite, like so many fleas on a dog?

We are unique among species in having the capacity and the opportunity to choose.

Ralph Averill, New Preston, Conn.
Humans' Role on Earth
New York Times January 18, 2005

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