Environmentalists are Wrong: Nature Isn’t Sacred and We Should Replace It

Zoltan Istvan

On a warming planet bearing scars of significant environmental destruction, you’d think one of the 21st Century’s most notable emerging social groups—transhumanists—would be concerned. Many are not. Transhumanists first and foremost want to live indefinitely, and they are outraged at the fact their bodies age and are destined to die. They blame their biological nature, and dream of a day when DNA is replaced with silicon and data.

Their enmity of biology goes further than just their bodies. They see Mother Earth as a hostile space where every living creature—be it a tree, insect, mammal, or virus—is out for itself. Everything is part of the food chain, and subject to natural law: consumption by violent murder in the preponderance of cases. Life is vicious. It makes me think of pet dogs and cats, and how it’s reported they sometimes start eating their owner after they’ve died.

Many transhumanists want to change all this. They want to rid their worlds of biology. They favor concrete, steel, and code. Where once biological evolution was necessary to create primates and then modern humans, conscious and directed evolution has replaced it. Planet Earth doesn’t need iniquitous natural selection. It needs premeditated moral algorithms conceived by logic that do the most good for the largest number of people. This is something that an AI will probably be better at than humans in less than two decade’s time.

Ironically, fighting the makings of utopia is a coup a half century in the making. Starting with the good-intentioned people at Greenpeace in the 1970s but overtaken recently with enviro-socialists who often seem to want to control every aspect of our lives, environmentalism has taken over political and philosophical discourse and direction at the most powerful levels of society. Green believers want to make you think humans are destroying our only home, Planet Earth—and that this terrible action of ours is the most important issue of our time. They have sounded a call to “save the earth” by trying to stomp out capitalism and dramatically downsizing our carbon footprint.

The most important issue of our time is actually the evolution of technology, and environmentalists are mistaken in thinking the Earth is our only or permanent home. Before the century is out, our home for much intelligent life will likely be the microprocessor. We will merge with machines and explore both the virtual and physical universe as sentient robots. That’s the obvious destiny of our species and the coming AI age, popularized by past and present thinkers like Stephen Hawking, Ray Kurzweil, and Homo Deus author Yuval Noah Harari. Hundred million dollar companies in California led by billionaires like Elon Musk are already working on technology to directly to connect our brains in real time to the internet. We may soon not need the planet at all, just servers and a power source like solar or fusion.

Even if we somehow don’t merge with machines (because scared governments outlaw it, for example), we will still use the microprocessor and its data crunching capabilities to change our genetic make-up so dramatically, that it could not be called: natural. We will enter the Star Wars age where we literally change our DNA and biological appearance to become alien and creature-like—to fit whatever environment we need to fit. If this sounds crazy, just consider the Chinese geneticist who last year changed a girl’s genes in utero, creating the first alleged designer baby.

Whatever we become—as a former journalist for the National Geographic Channel who has passionately covered many environmental stories—I want to first make it clear what I think humans are doing to the Earth. I do believe we are destroying the environment. I do think we are overpopulated in many cities. I also believe there is high likelihood humans are helping to cause climate change. And while I do think we should not needlessly destroy the planet (especially wildlife) or live in man-made polluted wastelands, the last thing we need to do is put the brakes on consumption, procreation, and progress.

What we’re doing to the planet is not as important as what we are achieving as a species in the nearing of transition to the transhumanist age. We will save and improve far more lives in the future via bioengineering, geoengineering, and coming technology than damaged ecosystems across the planet will harm. Salvation is in science and progress, not sustainability or preserving the Earth. To argue or do otherwise is to be sadistic and act immorally against humanity’s well-being.

Besides, the envisioned transhumanist future is not just a place where humans can live without the constant threats and hostility of a biological world, it’s an age where sentient beings can finally overcome pain and misery. Beyond shedding our terminal flesh and living indefinitely, a secondary goal of the transhuman movement is to overcome all or the majority of suffering—both for ourselves and other nonhuman animals. This is why some believe transhumanism—even if it's made up of post-earthers—is the most humanitarian movement out there.

The tools transhumanists use—science, technology, and reason—to accomplish its watershed aims rely on thriving economies, free markets, and innovation. These mostly come from competitive countries trying to become powerful and make money—a lot of it. Increased economic output is nearly always responsible for raising the standard of living, something that has been going up a lot in the last 50 years for just about every nation on Earth. But that could change quickly as governments increasingly enforce strict pro-environmental regulation which slows down industry and commerce. When you force companies to operate inefficiently for lofty ideals, it hurts their bottom lines, and that in turn hurts workers and everyday people. It’s a well-known fact that when economies slow down, people increasingly lose property, turn to violence, and put having families on hold.

But the media usually doesn’t paint environmental policy this way. In fact, the media is responsible for a lot of the misinformation propping up the environmental movement, which is often at odds with transhumanism. A typical news headline reads: Billionaires and Politicians Trying to Protect the Planet. I have to chuckle. Billionaires and politicians usually have power-hungry ambitions. In general, they don't want people to have access to their wealth, power, or pristine environments—because they want it for themselves. That’s why they want walls, borders, ownership, and control of it all. How many people without the resources to even afford housing, healthcare, and food will ever take a vacation to protected land, even if the land is public like a national park. How many hundreds of millions of people in inner cities ever go visit "nature"? They don't.

Modern environmentalism is a fabricated deceit of and for the rich and powerful. It’s especially prominent in liberal places like New York City and my home town San Francisco. Sadly, environmentalism is often just a terrible tool to wield power over those of lesser means. The amount of minorities that visit US national parks—only 22 percent—compared to whites is totally out of whack.

Despite the imperfections of capitalism, I continue to support it because it remains the best hope for the poor to improve their standard of life—because at least the individually poor can work hard, be smart, and eventually become rich themselves. This rags to riches phenomenon is not something that can happen in socialist or communist environments, where nearly everyone loses (except the corrupt)—and those losses often lead to starvation and eventual civil war.

Enviro-socialists and their green new deals are some of the worst examples of those trying to bring change about to society. These people produce very little—rarely enough to improve society in any meaningful way—and they promise a pristine planet oblivious to the fact the great majority of people will be harmed, not helped, by such economy-killing policies.

However, there is an alternative to this ugly duopoly system we exist in for the masses. Let’s harness the capitalists and use our nation’s natural resources to end poverty, spread equality, and get humans to the transhuman age where science will make us all healthier and stronger. America has approximately 150 trillion dollars of uninhabited Federal Land not including national parks that we could divide up among its citizens—that’s a half million dollars in net worth of resources to every American—all 325 million of them. As a nation, let’s sell this federal land or preferably lease it to the capitalists and corporations who can pay us something in return—a permanent universal basic income, for example. Some call this a Federal Land Dividend. Leased properly, our Federal Land could provide over $1500 a month to every US citizen, giving a household of four $75,000 a year indefinitely.

Naysayers will say the capitalists will forever destroy the land and resources. But over a quarter century, this is unlikely, since all the new capital and innovation from divesting the land will push us far more quickly in the nanotechnology era—an age where we can recreate environments as we please, including those that are destroyed. If you think making plastic with oil is nifty, just wait till we create whole mature forests and jungles in a week’s time with coming genetic editing techniques. Also, we’ll be able to regrow any animal or plant—including extinct ones—in mass in a laboratory, something that is already on the verge of happening.

But why create the same nature that is so quintessentially cruel, especially as we become transhumans, with perfectly functioning ageless bionic organs and implants in our brains connecting us to the cloud. Let’s us create new environments that fit our modern needs. These will be virtual, synthetic, and machines worlds. These new worlds will be far more moral and humanitarian than that of nature. They will be like our homes, cars, and apartments, where everything in it is inanimate or no longer living, and that’s why we find sanctuary and comfort in it. If you doubt this, spend a night in the jungle or forest without any comforts or amenities, and see if you survive.

I don’t believe in evil, per se, but if there was such a thing, it would be nature—a monster of arbitrary living entities consuming and devouring each other simply to survive. No omnipotent person would ever have the hate in them to create a system where everything wants and needs to sting, eat, and outdo everything else just to live. And yet, that’s essentially what the environment is to all living entities. Environmentalists want you to believe nature is sacred and a perfect balance of living things thriving off one another. Nonsense—it’s a world war of all life fighting agony and loss—of fight or flight, of death today or death tomorrow for you and your offspring.

It’s time to use science and technology to create something better than an environment of biological nature. This begins with admitting the green do-gooder environmentalists are philosophically wrong—and the coming transhumanist age will usher in a world with far less suffering, death, and destruction, even if we have to harm the planet to first get there. Humans must cast off nature, and then they will finally be free of its ubiquitous hostility, misery, and fatalism. Let’s rise above the cultural push of environmentalism, because it’s antithetical to our future.


Zoltan Istvan is a transhumanist writer and lecturer. He has spoken at events by the World Bank, Congreso Futuro, and the World Economic Forum. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and daughters.

Comments (6)
No. 1-6

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Jhon Cena
Jhon Cena

Sunset is indeed one of my favorite scenery of the nature. And according to the rushmyessay services theory a sun describes that everything has a demise which will fall at anytime. It tells us the reality of life that everything will go back to where it has started.

ET Nada
ET Nada

Yep, that's the National Geographic worldview in a nutshell. It reeks of selfishness and hubris. In that view, everything in human life exists for human survival - at any cost, if necessary - but it is the ultimate losers game.

It is the habitual consciousness of an organism that only considers everything in relation to its own egocentric view of reality. Everything exists so that it can survive and thrive, regardless of the consequences it unconsciously generates. It is the habit of consumption consuming everything until there's nothing left to consume but itself. And from sheer mechanical momentum, regardless of what the algorithms that are used, that momentum won't be able to stop itself from consuming itself... Survival at any cost is the ultimate losers game. So what is the point of producing synthetic human beings with machine consciousness before they have had an opportunity to discover and perfect even a little of their inherent conscious potentials? Just to be clear, there are and have been conscious technologies that no physical, external apparatus or manipulation can ever access or emulate. The very technologies and sciences that are supposedly going to save humankind were generated by only one aspect of human potential - the intellect, and largely hominid male intellect focused on material existence. Full stop.

David Bohm very clearly defined the meaning of AI, which isn't Artificial Intelligence. AI, as it exists is Artificial Intellect, and no matter how much it's refined or developed, it will continue to be a product of the physical mind and brain of humans - to the exclusion and subjugation of all other capabilities and potentials. It is a part posing as if it is the whole. But it is not, nor can it be a substitute for those potentials.

"Salvation is in science and progress, not sustainability or preserving the Earth." This reliance on external manipulation won't produce what a fully conscious human being is capable of. Science can never "correct" unconscious behaviours - not at the deepest level. That is up to each human being, or more broadly, every conscious being, anywhere. The idea that one can have access to all the knowledge stored in a huge computer, regardless of how large it may be, still doesn't address the reality of what the origin of existence and consciousness is. Inserted into a human brain structure, it's still an external overlay of someone else's version of reality - that someone being the digital structure of whatever intellect can come up with that form of information. But what any AI isn't capable of is its own self-transcendence - because that suggests being able to go beyond any existing or future form of programming. If it was capable of self-transcendence, it would be what every human being is inherently capable of - sooner or later.

Getting a helicopter ride to the top of Everest doesn't turn one into a world class mountaineer, just as producing a hybrid AI-human won't necessarily result in what a fully awakened and enlightened human being is capable of doing and being. No intellect is capable of enduring infinity, especially the non-mathematical kind. Good luck, though. Transhumanism in this form, is also an aspect of humanity, but definitely nowhere near the full picture of a harmonious human being living as an integral aspect of a Consciously evolving universe.


You start off saying you're going to live forever and it only gets worse from there.

You are going to die.

All life born on this planet will return to this planet in death. The technology you rely so heavily on to justify your opinion is pure fantasy at this point.

My opinion on this opinion piece is that your opinion is laughably disconnected with reality.

Legacy Of Pythagoras
Legacy Of Pythagoras

You can choose to transfer your consciousness into a machine if that technology is available at some point if you wish: that is your right. But if you do, you don't get to choose for every other sentient being what happens to their environments that you've left behind. Either you leave, and leave the environment to the organic beings you leave behind, or you stay and influence whether those environments are destroyed or saved along with all the other organics. You can't have it both ways.

The single most overlooked, and at the same time most foundational error in logic whenever anyone tries to justify human animals exploiting nonhuman animals is the irrational idea that human animals in general are morally superior to nonhuman animals. This idea can be easily disproved, and yet most people do not even question it. It is assumed to be indisputable when it's not based on, as some would have us believe, objective fact.

Unless we can explain how human animals are morally superior to nonhuman animals, whenever we try to justify humans exploiting nonhumans in the ways that we do, we can't rule out humans exploiting other humans in the exact same ways and for the exact same reasons (our mere pleasure, amusement or convenience).

All other forms of moral supremacy, from ethnic, to religious, to gender-based, etc. stem from this one basic idea; that it's acceptable to refuse the same moral consideration to another being that we accord ourselves, merely because of morally irrelevant criteria like the color of their skin, which genitalia they have, or their species membership.

The belief that humans are morally superior to nonhumans is not based on instinct. If it was, then we would not be questioning it, and therefore you would not even be reading this. And yet, it's the reason why we believe it's just fine to torture a nonhuman, who is fully capable of desiring to not suffer or die as much as a human, in ways that we wouldn't torture the worst human criminals.

The myth of human moral supremacy is almost never even examined. But when it is, it's obvious that, just like the arguments we use to justify racism, sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance, or any other irrational form of oppression, it's based on nothing more than arbitrary personal opinion (and biased, self-serving opinion at that).

The idea that humans are superior to nonhuman animals is based on the misconception that all humans have some characteristic or set of characteristics that all nonhumans lack. All of these criteria are obviously as arbitrary as gender, ethnic membership, or religious belief when it comes to moral superiority, since we can't prove that either they are possessed by all humans, nor that they are lacked by all nonhumans. Not only that, but whichever faculty is being discussed is always one which is possessed by the person arguing on behalf of Human Supremacy.

Although human animals created a concept of morality, many humans commonly break the moral codes imposed by society. This is why we have human slavery, rape, torture, murder, and all the other atrocities that civilized humans abhor. Nonhuman animals, who cannot be proven to understand the concept of a human moral code, almost always follow our moral codes better than we do.

They do not enslave us, create concentration camps, weapons of mass destruction, torture chambers, or pollute or otherwise destroy our habitats. Nor do they wage war on humans, or any of the other atrocities that humans are guilty of. They merely wish to be left alone to live and die on their own terms. To claim that they should have to follow our moral codes to benefit from them would be like claiming that we should punish a severely mentally handicapped human for failing to pass the S.A.T.s.

On the other side of the coin, humans enslave, rape, torture or murder nonhumans by the hundreds of billions each year, merely because we enjoy the taste of their dead bodies and secretions and the conveniences that it affords us. And we also are intentionally destroying every wild habitat that we can. We regularly treat nonhumans worse than we would treat the worst human criminals. So who is morally superior to whom again?

The idea that we should be able to do these things because say, a lion eats a zebra is ridiculous in the extreme. A male lion often will kill a rival male and their offspring before copulating, in public no less, with the mother. If a mother lioness gives birth to a severely ill or deformed baby, she will usually cannibalize them. When applied to human contexts, do we think these are morally justifiable ways to behave?

This is where the Human Supremacist says "Either we are morally superior to animals, in which case exploiting them is fine, or we aren't morally superior to them, in which case we can kill them merely because we want to consume them, just like any other animal does."

However, this completely fails to recognize that claiming one is "morally superior" means that one adheres to a code of fairness and justice more than the other does, not that one can merely understand human concepts of morality. If a human can understand the concept of the injustice of slavery, rape, torture or murder, but does not refuse to engage in such behaviors, where is the moral superiority in that?

As I mentioned, we very rarely hold completely to our optimal code of conduct. We claim, as a society, to believe in The Golden Rule, but we routinely inflict massive unnecessary suffering and death on innocent beings merely for our pleasure, amusement, or convenience. We enslave, rape, torture and murder upwards of a trillion nonhuman animals each year merely so we can unnecessarily eat their flesh and secretions and use their body parts for clothing (among other things), which causes massive suffering for them.

We should realize that if we don't follow this system of justice regarding every innocent animal, nonhuman or human, then the same arguments we use to attempt to justify inflicting unnecessary suffering and death on them ("that animal isn't as smart as I am", "they don't have souls", "it's how I make a living", "meat/fish/dairy/eggs/honey tastes good", etc.) can also be used by other humans to justify inflicting unnecessary suffering and death on us ("that person isn't as smart as I am", "I'm one of the chosen people and that person isn't", "I wanted their stuff", "rape feels good", etc.).

There is no way to morally justify the intentional, unnecessary exploitation of nonhumans by humans without also morally justifying the intentional, unnecessary exploitation of humans by other humans. This means that if we personally are in favor of violating nonhumans' right to be completely safe from being enslaved, raped, tortured, slaughtered or in any way used as replaceable resources, then we have no claim that we ourselves should be safe from having those same things done to us by other humans. Any argument we try to use to justify harming nonhumans can also be used successfully by other humans to justify harming us in those same ways.

This also means that until we as a species evolve past our irrational belief in intentionally exploiting nonhumans merely for our trivial interests, we will continue to endure racism, genderism, homophobia, ableism, tyranny, mass murder, and all the other human rights atrocities we commonly abhor.

To learn the answers to every question you have on why it's wrong to exploit nonhuman animals, go here:


Neither the environment or technology is bad. Is the polarized mentality that is "Evil". We can live in harmony with nature and enjoy scientific advances. A purely rational, scientific mind will kill us. Nature has a lot to teach us. Humanity keeps making the same mistakes precisely because we dont understand nature and how we are so affected by the vibrational frequencies of both the micro and macrocosms. We will destroy humanity if we continue with this polarized mentality.

  • A fellow Transhumanist