Published on September 26, 2023

A baby bird died in my hands last month. I had rescued it from the sidewalk beside my work. Before it took its last breath, I could hear the bird vociferating in agony to the city’s robot humans, “I beg you to contemplate, for I am suffering.”

My desk at work sits right beside the window, and I can’t help but notice how these small city birds lived inside the AC vents. I haven’t heard a bird chirp in years in this chaotic world. When I was a kid, I would visit my grandparents every weekend and play in the flowery meadow with butterflies and watch kingfishers smoothly sweep over the waters to grab a fish. I would hear the woodpecker pecking away at trees as white herons would fly majestically over the swamps. This scenery only exists in my memories.

Ignorant urbanization is an anthropogenic disturbance. Because of unsuitable food options, unhealthy levels of noise and light during off hours, birds in the city are miserable. Their telomeres (the outer protective ends of chromosomes) are shortening as they are spending more energy adapting to the highly testing oppidan.  With shorter telomeres, oxidative damage results into a shorter lifespan. Furthermore, due to smaller body sizes, they have lower territoriality, are trapped within the limits of the city, unable to migrate to comparatively forested areas. Eventually, these birds succumb to hormonal dysfunction and are unable to lay eggs for months. To adapt to the loud noises of the city, they begin to sing in high-pitched noises, which eventually fail to communicate with a partner. All these disturbances reduce reproduction rates. Food sources that are dominant in the city have low nutritional values, making these birds weaker every day. (Isaksson 2010, 2015 and Salmón et al. 2018)

I was appalled when I got into a conversation with a friend, who thought that spending money to protect animals is a ridiculous waste when many humans are dying of hunger. Human lives matter, but does it have to be regardless of other lives? I felt so defeated, with so many questions. 

I caught a glimpse of this little guy from the window by my office desk, snap by Oindriza Reza

Do Homo sapiens suffer from destructive superiority complexes?

I  came across Spirn’s book, “The Language of Landscapes” which finally consoled my defeated conscience. She talked to me, and said how human vernacular emanates from the conversation between builders and the place, but the continuing conversation had already begun in nature even before humans arrived. We, humans, in the attempt to engage in the dialogue, misinterpret the context to put presumptuous and tangential answers. Intrigued, I want to ask her, why are humans the only species misinterpreting the information? Is it plainly because like my friend, all of us, the Homo sapiens suffer from destructive superiority complexes?

While many philosophers like Næss have put forth the Deep Ecology ideologies by validating the concept of “biospheric egalitarianism” and rejecting “atomistic individualism”, others think their supremacy as a species allows them to act indiscriminately. But can we skip a calamitous consequence? If humans are superior, doesn’t it automatically hand over the responsibility to ensure ecological balance as each of our steps leaves a massive footprint? Isn’t it ironic that our collective intelligence as a species that has taken us so high up the ladder, also has taken us closer to our destruction?



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