What is man? "Oh, what art thou man?" the poets of the good old days used to wonder. Man may be defined in an arbitrary number of ways, but to convey his most fundamental characteristic, he could be described with two words: too much. I'm too much, you're too much. There's five billion of us - an absurd, astonishing number, and still increasing? The earth's biosphere could possibly support a population of five million large mammals of this size, given their food requirements and the offal they produce, in order that they might exist in their own ecological niche, living as one species among many, without discriminating against the richness of other forms of life.
What meaning is there in these masses, what use do they have? What essential new contribution is brought forth to the world by hundreds of human societies similar to one other, or by the hundreds of identical communities existing within these societies? What sense is there in the fact that every small Finnish town has the same choice of workshops and stores, a similar men's choir and a similar municipal theatre, all clogging up the earth's surface with their foundations and asphalt slabs? Would it be any loss to the biosphere - or to humanity itself - if the area of ??nekoski no longer existed, and instead in its place was an unregulated and diverse mosaic of natural landscape, containing thousands of species and tilting slopes of gnarled, primitive trees mirrored in the shimmering surface of Kuhmoj?rvi lake? Or would it really be a loss if a small bundle of towns disappeared from the map - Ylivieska, Kuusamo, lahti, Duisburg, Jefremov, Gloucester - and wilderness replaced them? How about Belgium?