“The oldest, easiest-to-swallow idea [about our planet] was that the Earth was man’s personal property, a combination of garden, zoo, bank vault, and energy source, placed at our disposal to be consumed, ornamented, or pulled apart as we wished….
“[Now we know] that we are not the masters of nature that we thought ourselves to be; we are as dependent on the rest of life as are the leaves or midges or fish. We are part of the system.
“One way to put it is that the Earth is a loosely formed, spherical organism, with all its working parts linked in symbiosis. We are, in this view, neither owners or operators; at best, we might see ourselves as motile* tissue specialized for receiving information – perhaps, in the best of all possible worlds, functioning as a nervous system of the whole being that is Earth.”
— Dr. Lewis Thomas, Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher, 1974
* “motile” means ‘capable of movement.’
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