As I think about this question, and consider the multifaceted elements of our cognitive abilities, we are truly splendid in providing solutions to problems and this has propelled us to the top of the evolutionary ladder. Not only the apex predator but the apex gatherer, the apex farmer and the apex astronaut. We have conquered all global arenas, and some extra-global arenas too. It is this that makes us human: our connection to the planet, to each other, to the flora and fauna. And the self-awareness that we ARE connected. A collective human consciousness, capable of constructing its awareness in the moment.
Unfortunately, what also makes us human is ignoring this connection in favour of a myopic superiority complex that determines we can do almost anything to our planet without consequence.
Conversely, other animals exist in harmony with their environment. Would we ever see a dolphin purposely contaminate their ocean? Their curse and their strength is their lack of awareness of their dependency on their environment as a factor of their evolution and continued growth. They cycle through the steps necessary to live and propagate within the confines of their evolutionary niche. As far as we know, they lack the sentience to step out of this cycle and question their place within. And this ensures they survive at least one more generation.
However, to be human also means we are aware of our environment and our place within. We are capable of stepping out of the cycle and observing the process systemically. This became the issue for our humanity when we realised we can influence the system at a micro and macro level.
This dichotomy of often necessary impact on our surroundings, whether it is building a short access road from one desolate area of Africa to another to help villages trade with each other, or the burning of the Amazonian rain forest, it is this constant duality of helping and hindering ourselves in the moment with regards to our environment that separates us from every species that has ever lived, and threatens our very future. Yet we know this. We are aware of the consequences of our actions, both short term and long term. Immediate gain whilst potentially sacrificing the long term benefits. This is what it means to be human right now.
Our final Unique Selling Point that demonstrates our humanity is our almost pathological need to control and manipulate the systemic nature of our interaction with every other species on the planet. Combine this with the awareness that we know exactly what we are doing, the most cognitive aspects of being human come crashing to the ground. This does not mean we need emotional intelligence to counter the issues of being human, as this would render us subject to our emotional processing, and this is not the complex way to go about a solution.
So what makes us human? Like no other species that has come before us, our ability to change the world. And our ability to ignore the fact that we are!