This morning at the barber’s someone described a YouTube video in which a man pours molten aluminium into an ants’ nest and then douses it with cold water. The resultant structure in aluminium, pulled out of the earth, was apparently rather like a diagram of an atomic structure – a complex series of nodes and links. The general reaction was one of interest, but no one seemed to question the ethics of treating the ants in that way. When I asked ‘But what about the ants?’ my enquiry was met by a silence that I would like to think was embarrassment but realise was more likely to be incomprehension.
This is just another illustration – there is no shortage of them – of the way that most people regard the rest of the ecosystem of which we are but one part. All other life forms are seen as subsidiary to mankind, to be exploited, tolerated, or shamelessly destroyed.
As far as I know, ants, like bees, are not hell-bent on destroying the world they live in, as mankind clearly is. So which species is the more intelligent?