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OPEN ACCESS E-BOOK: ‘Speciesism in Biology and Culture: How Human Exceptionalism is Pushing Planetary Boundaries’

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People these days are very conscious of how evil it is for one group of people to think that they're superior to another race, and yet the same people who are very woke about that are perfectly happy to say, well, humans are in charge of everything, so the rest of the world is ours to use as we see fit.

UC BERKELEY: With the world’s population topping 8 billion last year, it’s clear that humans have achieved a unique status in Earth’s history. We are the only creature that dominate all other organisms on the planet, from animals and fungi to plants and microbes.

It remains to be seen whether humans can retain this dominance as we push the global climate to extremes while driving to extinction the very organisms that we climbed over to get to the top.

In a new book, a group of scientists and philosophers places part of the blame on an attitude prevalent among scientists and the general public—the false belief that species are uniquely real, and that some species are superior to others.

To the researchers, this is analogous to racism—the fallacious belief that races exist as branches on the tree of life, and that some races are superior to others.

“”People these days are very conscious of how evil it is for one group of people to think that they’re superior to another race, and yet the same people who are very woke about that are perfectly happy to say, well, humans are in charge of everything, so the rest of the world is ours to use as we see fit,” said Brent Mishler, professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-editor and co-author of the book with UC Berkeley Ph.D. recipient and former postdoctoral fellow Brian Swartz.

“The two precepts—that species are uniquely real and that one or more are superior to others—cascade into how humans see themselves and how we behave on this planet,” said Swartz, who is also affiliated with the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere at Stanford University. “Our cultural and biological manifestations flow from this worldview and snowball to affect how we interact with other forms of life, the physical world and other people.”

In the new book, Swartz, Mishler and nine other contributors argue that speciesism—the belief that species are real and that humans are the superior species—”leads to behavior that challenges our future on this planet.”

They instead urge humans to remove themselves from their pedestal and treat all creatures as they would members of the human family by valuing and protecting their lives and habitats.

“The way I put it to my students is that it’s like we’re a huge, diverse family living in the same house, which is Earth, and we need to get along. Not just the human family. We’re talking about everything—plants, animals and bacteria. What one does stresses another,” said Mishler, an evolutionary biologist who is director of the University and Jepson Herbaria at UC Berkeley. “We’re not arguing that humans are not important. We’re just saying they’re only one of many of the life forms at the tips of the tree of life.”

The book, Speciesism in Biology and Culture: How Human Exceptionalism is Pushing Planetary Boundaries, was published this month as an open access eBook by Springer, an imprint of Springer Nature Switzerland AG. SOURCE…

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