Is The Earth Your Greatest Enemy? [with Demetri Martin]

– [Ted] Last time on
Our Fascinating Planet A planet was born. It exploded all over itself and changed its own face. It survived its puberty, killed its dinosaurs, and then developed its
own death defying cycles to keep its starry insides in check. But it would leave its
human outsides unchecked. This is Our Fascinating Planet. (majestic music) (majestic music becoming pompous) The story of our Earth is a story of the life it
has birthed and nurtured, and perhaps nothing has been birthed and nurtured more on Earth than … Animals. One of Nature’s most valuable resources. We chase them, we wear
them, we play with them, we taunt them, we laugh at them, we roast them, we toast them, we even host them in our homes as pets, but lying just beneath the surface of these often ridiculous coinhabitants of our shared home we call Earth is a much greater story. One filled with melodramatic
danger and cosmic safety, all punctuated by glorious displays of our Earth’s lifedom. The Earth has long used
animals to sustain itself. They dig holes in its
soil to ventilate it. They swim in its waters to hydrate it. They stampede on its ground to massage it, and flap their wings in its air, moving its clouds to shade it. Animals eat plants to keep
them from strangling the land, and they convert chewed
plant carcases into feces, which helps thicken the
Earth’s protective crust, and they urinate on its
surface to quench its thirst and prevent it from exploding. And when they die, the
animals melt into the Earth, becoming food for plants. Animals eat plants, which then die and become food for new plants, which then also die and become dirt, which becomes food for the Earth. Put simply, the Earth would
not be what it is today without its animals. But the best of these animals is Man, who just so happens to also be the worst of these animals. No conversation about
life on Earth is complete without addressing Man’s
almost flippant disregard for his animal neighbors with
whom he shares this planet. Statistically, Man is
the most dangerous animal on the planet. When you consider mankind’s history and its clever use of things like jackhammers and atomic bombs, it’s easy to see why. And Man also ranks highest in conflicts. And at the same time, Man ranks lowest in respect for the Earth. But how did we end up like this? It’s almost as if Man was
destined to clash with Earth from the very beginning, a process that started with
early humans who lived in trees and soon clashed with each
other right out of those trees. So early Man’s first journey, a veritable leap from
the tree to the ground, was also the first significant step towards what we call civilization. Once our species managed to
come together on the ground, we suddenly discovered that a lot of us didn’t like a lot of them,
and so there was conflict. Tribes began to separate, to sort themselves into warring factions based on their differences. Some separations were obvious, determined by things like hair type or body smell or geography. Specifically, those who were
good at geography went one way, and those who were not got lost, and as they wandered, trying
to find their way back, they accidentally populated the Earth. But one thing would prove
to separate human beings from each other more than anything else, something called … Religion. Man has long practiced
religion, because … – It’s the opposite, it’s easy, you know. You draw a circle or you wear a hat, talk about the sun, you know, maybe you get to burn a woman
while she’s still alive. People love that, to set women on fire. Sometimes you got to kill a bird, so animal cruelty was
always really appealing. – [Ted] With the advent of religion, Man took his first real step
towards changing the planet. Early Man’s gods not only helped
him describe small events, like a poor harvest or diarrhea, but also larger phenomena like tornadoes. Floods. Plague. Even earthquakes. All of this could be ascribed to an invisible source in the sky. So Man, almost from his beginning, looked not to Earth for answers, but away from it and then beyond it, putting himself and his
needs above his planet. And his gods would be instrumental in cultivating his disregard
for the Earth itself. There was the Greek god of trash, the Inca god of killing things for fun, and the Chinese god of
burning whatever you could whenever you felt like it. And of course, the
Nordic god of Earth rape. For these gods were
the perfect scapegoats. Perhaps no better example can be found than the Roman god, Scape. A goat. – In every ancient language
we see recurring phrases, like ‘the gods made me do it’,
you know, that ***ing goat! You know, that kind of thing, so the goat was very
prevalent in households. People talked about that a lot. – [Ted] By removing any
responsibility from himself, Man was free to wreak havoc on the planet, and he would attack
the Earth in many ways. We started by assaulting
the Earth’s plants. We began to grow them only
to kill them and eat them, and sometimes to smoke them. Animals soon became a
favorite target for Man. We hunted, killed, wore
and even teased animals, even turning some of them
into our play slaves, or pets. A barbaric custom that is still practiced in many places today, this
has had dire consequences. But perhaps Man’s greatest assault has been on the Earth itself,
building homes and towns, digging into the Earth to extract minerals to make vitamins and jewelry, and decorating the land
in embarrassing ways. Soon, cities began to rise. The goal was clear: remove all traces of Nature
as quickly as possible, and in many places, we’ve
succeeded in doing just that. We went from living in small straw huts to living in tall straw
skyscrapers almost overnight, which today of course are
no longer made of straw but of balsa wood and
concrete and plexiglass. These concrete jungles and prairies have replaced the regular
jungles and prairies that once ruled the planet, leaving Man today with little choice but to live and die in his
own industrial wasteland. Today, five in every seven
people lives in a city, and of those, two in every three are 10 times more likely to spend the remaining
three fifths of their life in the heart of that city. And of those, 90% will die in a city, and of those, 80% will die a
violent death in that city, and of those, 10% will live in either an urban or rural area. And so today we find a planet that is in many places
almost unrecognizable. Animals often look confused or embarrassed as they enter our
habitats, and even worse, many of them have suffered psychologically from our overwhelming impact. – Animals replicate human life. You’ll see human culture
as behaving a certain way, animals go, oh, humans are better than me, I wanna behave like that. And you see that a lot,
I studied quail patterns, how quails interact over time,
and quails act like people, and it’s disgusting, you know, it’s wrong. But it’s fascinating. And also, we keep animals as pets because they’re not as smart,
they’re not as intelligent, we eat them as food because
they’re objects, essentially. Objects with a heart, so, it causes a lot of questions to come up. – [Ted] And we mock the Earth by making things like
plastic Christmas trees and wooden ducks. Man has displayed an
almost tragic arrogance towards his planet. While we jump for Jupiter
and salivate over Saturn, we are brazen enough to use the
very material from the Earth to make small ridiculous
dolls of it, called globes. On top of that, to get
these very materials, we have penetrated the Earth and robbed it of its fossil fuels. Fossil fuels which we
burn like witches or dogs. This has had dire consequences, namely globular warming. (flames crackling) Our planet is in trouble, there’s no question about that now. And Man, more than any
species, is responsible for it. Fire, once thought to
be Man’s best friend, now turns out to be one
of Nature’s worst enemies. – [Bernadette] It’s like we’re gonna destroy ourselves, right? But that’s something
that’s seemed really likely for a long time, and
we’ve made it this far. – In fact, the future is in our hands, both our own future and our planet’s. The question is, what do we do with it? So what does the future hold
for our fascinating planet? The current interglacial period ends, sending our Earth into another ice age. Extinction of animals continues to occur until they are all gone
and we all become vegan, removing all joy from the planet. Father Earth comes back and we must decide which Earth we want to live on. Everything works out, and we learn to live
harmoniously with our planet. Well that’s up to you. The Earth is not just our home, it is also our friend and our enemy, much like a mother or a foster aunt. We may leave this planet
someday or it may explode, and we will find ourselves living on small oddly shaped Earthlets hurtling through space,
which will never be as good as the planet was when it was all together in one big ball the way it is today. We don’t know what will happen, only the future can tell us
that, but in the meantime, instead of telling this planet what to do, as we have for centuries, maybe we should start listening to her. And when we do, let’s not be so arrogant that we end up laughing
at what she has to say. (majestic music)


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