Animals, plants, and even fungi are more "aware" than people previously thought, which raises questions about how that might change our relationships with other living beings.
In this story, farmer and author Luanne Armstrong describes her observations about the various ways that plants and animals are "aware." In fact, a growing body of scientific evidence points to the idea that other living things are more conscious than people once believed.
In 2012, an international group of prominent scientists signed the "Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness" asserting that many animals—including mammals, birds, and even the octopus—are conscious in the same way that humans are. They wrote, "Convergent evidence indicates that nonhuman animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors." As for plants, botanists such as author Daniel Chamovitz affirm that while plants may not be able to think as humans do, they exhibit many elements of consciousness: they can see, smell, feel, mount a defense, warn their neighbors of danger, and even remember.
The issue of nonhuman animal and plant awareness raises many questions for people. For example, what moral or legal standing these organisms should have, and how we might redefine the concept of "humane."
Connections to National Standards
Common Core English Language Arts. RH.11-12.4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text.
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies. D2.Geo.6.9-12. Evaluate the impact of human settlement activities on the environmental and cultural characteristics of specific places and regions.
Next Generation Science Standards. HS-LS2-8. Evaluate the evidence for the role of group behavior on individual and species' chances to survive and reproduce.