Why humans behave like a killer virus

Human behaviour is leading to the breakdown of the natural world

Paul Abela, MSc
4 min readAug 25, 2019

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Whether it be the air we breathe, the water we drink, or the food we eat, what’s clear is that we depend on the Earth to live. But the natural world’s ability to provide the services we need to survive are beginning to break down. Humans are responsible for this breakdown.

Humans treat the Earth with complete disregard. We poison waterways — even though water is the blood of life. Forests are chopped down and burnt — even though trees clean the air we breathe. Greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere — even though we know this is heating up the world. Oh, and our behaviour is creating the sixth mass extinction event. Life is dying due to human behaviour.

You would think we’re trying our very best to destroy the conditions we depend on to survive. If it were the intention we’re doing a very good job of it. And yet, this is the last thing we want. If we destroy the conditions that provide us life, we destroy ourselves. It’s that simple. We know what we’re doing. The alarm bells are ringing. But we continue to behave in a way that is destroying the stable conditions that are conducive to life as we know it. From a different perspective, our behaviour is comparable to a killer virus.

Why we behave like a virus

Killer viruses are merciless in their destruction. They flourish off the souls of the living.

They are genetically programmed to behave this way. A viruses programming results in destruction. Either the host is able to fight the infection, and destroy the virus, or the virus overwhelms the host, and kills it. But, by killing the host, the virus also kills itself. The death of the host results in the destruction of an environment where the virus can thrive.

The last thing a virus wants to do is kill its host. Its success ultimately brings its own downfall. A virus is hardwired to behave in this way. It knows no different. It can’t recognise that its behaviour leads to the demise of an environment that supports its own life.

A virus is destructive. If the behaviour of the virus was to change, it would no longer be a virus.

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Paul Abela, MSc

Writer and systems thinker | Place a lens on the social, economic and political causes of the climate crisis | Visit my website and blog at transformatise.com