Viruses are unseen but dynamic players in the ecology of Earth
Viruses wreak chaos on human welfare, affecting the lives of al-most a billion people. They have also played major roles in the remarkable biological advances of the past century. The smallpox virus was humanity's greatest killer, and yet it is now one of the only diseases to have been eradicated from the globe. New viruses, such as HIV, continue to pose new threats and challenges. Viruses are unseen but dynamic players in the ecology of Earth. They move DNA between species, provide new genetic material for evolution, and regulate vast populations of organisms. Every species, from tiny microbes to large mammals, is influenced by the actions of viruses. Viruses extend their impact beyond species to affect climate, soil, the oceans, and fresh water. When you consider how every animal, plant, and microbe has been shaped through the course of evolution, one has to consider the influential role played by the tiny and powerful viruses that share this planet.
I revere [trees] when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. […] A tree says: The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.
Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone ...
The very word virus began as a contradiction. We inherited the word from the Roman Empire, where it meant, at once, the venom of a snake or the semen of a man. Creation and destruction in one word.
The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.