Is it natural that a dominant species will eventually drastically alter its environment by the mere fact of its existence? And possibly to its own detriment?
3.4 billion years ago oceanic cyanobacteria emerged. They lived by photosynthesis, the first creatures to do so, and eventually filled the Earth's atmosphere with oxygen. Oxygen that was toxic to the dominant anaerobic organisms, leading to a near extinction event. The change in the Earth's atmosphere threatened the cyanobacteria themselves as it lowered temperatures and lead to an ice age.
Similarly, fungi paved the way for plants to thrive by extracting minerals from rocks that were essential for plants.
In each case, the organism had no intent to alter their environment. They simply existed and so it changed. Existence is not neutral. It converts its inputs into different outputs. To exist it to alter the environment. But that alteration can also naturally lead to the species' downfall.
The obvious parallels to climate change aside I wonder if it parallels our lives itself.
Our existence alters the world around us. The people we interact with the places we live in. We change it without meaning to. If our outputs are toxic it can lead to our own destruction. We can unintentionally create conditions that threaten us.
The difference between us and bacteria is our self-awareness. We can perceive our actions and the responses they trigger. We can alter our outputs. But we can also be blinded by ego or a dominant position.
So are all dominant creatures fated to negatively alter their environment? Or are us humans uniquely capable of stopping it?