Ruben Baart

Text reflecting on A World Without Us

A World Without Us implies an ‘us’ and a ‘them’. A doomsday plot line about what would happen to the natural and built environment if humans suddenly disappeared. But humans aren’t separate from nature. We’re part of it. Our presence is transforming the planet. Deforestation, human induced global warming, decrease of biodiversity, pollution and mass urbanization – certainly, “we were here” is written all over.

Although it’s alluring to think of human beings as the dominant species on earth, there is a domain of creatures with which we are co-evolving that diffusively encircles an entire planet. These creatures all have a dynamism and an agenda of their own, separate from the human perspective. It reminds us humans are immersed in a bacterial world. We are 10% human and 90% bacterial; an alien naturalist may consider humans as smart city housing for bacterial colonies.

Time to acknowledge the messiness of our biological origins and the ultimate connectedness of all species. We need to develop better communications between every life form – rather than engaging in an all-out antibiotic boundary war that we’re simply not going to win. We must therefore remain humble in the presence of nature. We are just one species on a small blue dot in a vast cosmic theatre. Nature is bigger than us. It will always continue to surprise, amaze and challenge us. It will never stop, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Without a world, there is no us.

– text written by Ruben Baart (Next Nature Network)

A picture of the artist made during quarantine.


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