life has no meaning, but we can choose our purpose...
Whatever we do has no bearing on the status of the universe. Whatever we do has only an influence on the localised activity and reactivity of life on earth.
Through accidental evolution, we have become the only species with the ability to modify the planet on a large scale. By our reactivity to and by our activity within the environment, we have empirically constructed various senses of enlightenment with which we can decide what lives or what dies — and in which fashion. We have developed the tools to induce mass extinction as well as micro-modification. This evolution into a sapiens (animals that think) has become our biggest choice — we could define as a responsibility — that has no other purpose but our own decision to understand, or not to do so, what "the next" is, should we care.
We do not have to care... But caring has become a strong element of human's constructed enlightenment. We care for a little dog. We care for sharing moments with our family. And yet from time to time we go in a rage or we are duplicitous or we are vengeful... We use animalistic aggression for a negative stylistic purpose.
We also tend to complicate our caring with compromises that are often stupid, inefficient, decidedly wrong or idiotic. Some of us understand these manipulation of purpose for the benefit of most, including for other species. Some of us only choose manipulations of benefits for only a few. Dealing with other humans sensibilities are also often pushing us into making uncomfortable compromises.
Butterflies need plants to survive and breed. Specific plants. Often the plants they breed upon end up looking shabby or half dead. The caterpillars seem to destroy the leaves but rarely would the plant die. The butterfly cannot afford the plant species to die off though I believe the butterfly does not know that. It's only a simple biotic balance between the existence of the plant and that of the butterfly. Should we remove the species of plant, the butterfly species itself would die off. Extinct.
In our expediency of improvement and instant gratification, we often loose sight of the present relationships that relatively feed the next.
We could need to care more. By choice. Though on a universal level, whether we care or not has no influence.
But I would say, we need to care because we can do so, whether there is a "pay off" or not...