How Nature Is Becoming A Simulation

There are more lion products on Amazon than lions in the wild


Rock paintings from the Cave of Beasts (Gilf Kebir, Libyan Desert) Estimated 7000 BP

Children love animals. They love nature. And yet this love is twisted to sell commodities, cartoons, clothes, and otherwise a simulation of nature. Children grow up surrounded by stories of the wild and almost no direct experience of it. These simulations are simultaneously killing off the natural world. Every kids book is an epitaph. Every documentary a mausoleum.

At this moment there are more listings for ‘lion’ products on Amazon (over 70,000) than there are lions in the wild (≈20,000). The range of Amazon Prime vans only increases, while the range of lions only decreases. These facts are not unrelated. The lie we tell both children and adults is that we just need to be nicer and ‘more aware’ of animals, and that the problem is a few bad people, usually black poachers or strange Chinese medicine. The truth is that the problem is systemic. The system producing lion toys for children and lion documentaries for adults is the problem. Capitalism has a relentless appetite for land and resources, and as long is it grows, the range of lions and all other creatures will inevitably decline.

We don’t get that these species are already reduced to a ceremonial sliver of existence. They are built to roam the Earth, but that Earth is now bisected by highways and high-tension electric lines. The land, the water, the very air are being sucked away relentlessly by another lifeform, Capital incarnate. The few humans that sells out the rest of life on Earth to these AI climate colonizers are rewarded handsomely with what are ultimately trinkets and toys. Yachts and bad marriages, plaques outside the natural history museum, private islands.

Instead of a nature to live in and inherit, our children get a massive simulation. Lion backpacks. Wolf hats. Tiger cereal. Our children watch Peppa Pig and then eat horrifically caged and enslaved pigs. Capitalism sells both love of animals' souls and brutal greed for their flesh. The hypocrisy is only a commercial break away. It is the carbon-spewing machines which inherit the Earth. Nature itself is rendered in pixels and threads and plastic. It is a death mask more real than life itself. The simulation is brighter, cuddlier, always in higher zoom and center…



Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at, or just email me at