A bizarre title for a blog you might say but my question is are humans and locusts any different? The current locust invasion devastating the crops of many African countries, some already suffering from fragile food systems, has no idea, no consciousness of what they do. Their selfish genes as Richard Dawkins once described, drive them to reproduce just like any organism that we define as being alive. We don’t see smaller organisms that are even better at replicating than locusts even though they can cause more damage albeit sometimes more slowly. In this case locusts are of a certain size and very visible to us and they are also very dangerous and devastating because they are taking advantage, even though they don’t know it, of our agricultural systems. Coupled with their reproduction cycles when they swarm they can wipe out our food supplies. As individual locusts they have no sense of the size of their swarms anymore than they do of the damage they do to us.
So are we as individuals locusts? There are 7.79 billion of us at the last estimate. It’s impossible to say count, at least accurately and even that number is growing rapidly. How much time at any given moment do any of those billions of us humans give any thought to what the human swarm is doing to the planet? I have a sort of idea that my life choices don’t scale up to 7.79 people and beyond without causing extreme levels of environmental loading that the planet cannot support. As I have got older I have come to understand a little of what it “costs” in terms of environmental loading and I have been finding many ways of reducing my lifestyle footprint. It probably still isn’t enough and I and the rest of us will have to change if we are to have any chance of being sustainable. It seems that a large part of the human locust swarm are unaware or simply do not care. So now it is a race against time both for stopping the locust swarm destroying African food supplies but equally stopping the human locust swarm before it “eats” itself off the planet.