It is crystal clear—unlike the smoky skies where I live--to most of us who are willing to consider the facts: this summer’s ‘natural’ disasters have been seeded anthropogenically. Wildfires in the northwestern United States and Canada, in Greenland, and in Europe are often referred to in the media as ‘unprecedented’ in size and fury. Hurricanes and monsoons, with their attendant floods and destruction, are routinely described as having a multitude of ‘record-breaking’ attributes.
Globalization is like the automobile. I pose this hypothetic as an economic study. To wit, there are 5 scales of economy - local, regional, States, National, Global. Similarly there are 4 modes of urban/suburban travel - cars/trucks, walking, mass transit, bicycling. The similarity between the largest economic scale, global, and the largest industrialized travel mode, automobiles, which in practice eliminates the lesser though no less fundamental travel modes, plus environmental impact of longest distance travel, not excluding shipping and luxury air travel to escape car strangled hometowns. The car remains a ‘link’ in the transportation ‘chain’ of the global economy. In summary, the global economy likewise undermines the lesser scales of economy, despite this detriment to global trade’s own optimal level of practical use. It’s not people overwhelming planet Earth. It is our cars, trucks, ships and airplanes polluting much more than ‘people’ otherwise considered consumers mostly less greedily devoted to wasteful luxury travel and slave labor products.
The thing I don’t understand about climate change denialists is that despite their beliefs that it is all a big conspiracy and thousands of scientists are all wrong, and it’s just the “natural fluctuation in temperatures that happens over time” blah blah blah - wouldn’t it be prudent to at least err on the side of safety JUST IN CASE there is even the SLIGHTEST possibility that it isn’t all bunk, as they believe? I mean, we are talking about their children and grandchildren. When you ride in a car, there is only a slight statistical possibility that you might die in a car accident, but you still put on your seat belt anyway, just in case. There is only a tiny statistical possibility that your children will contract diptheria or measles or mumps, but you have them immunized as infants anyway - just in case.
If you give even the slightest damn about your children and grandchildren’s well-being, wouldn’t it be best to at least play it safe and NOT gamble their lives on your beliefs? If there is even the remotest possible chance that all those scientists and studies could be even a LITTLE correct, you would think that they would do whatever was necessary to ensure the future safety of their own offspring, even if they don’t give a crap about the rest of humanity. Are these millions of people that completely smug, arrogant, and idiotic, without an empathetic bone in their bodies even for their own progeny (bootstraps! you’re on your own!)?
Here’s what I do not get- well maybe I get it but in a different way. It is NOT all about the children or the grandchildren- it’s about the fact that we all belong to the Earth not the opposite way around- and why don;t more people care about other species and their habitats? We humans occupy more space on this planet than any other species. Other species have lost over 75% of their habitats, and some humans insists on living in multiple dwellings each one larger than the next, and then will them to extended family so they can then build their monstrosities etc. Some one per centers and other denialists believe it is all about money. What they all need is a good swift kick in the a$$. Please see Population connection . I will be distributing lit for them in two weeks.
It is people contantly populating, producing waste, using products, and building, building, building and destroying habitats of other species.
There is a wonderful book by Derrick Jensen titled “The Myth of Human Supremacy” that details the misperception of that humans have on their “superior” status. Until the human species realizes that they have to ‘get along’ with the other species, disasters will soon follow. Humans have been taking from Earth for many millennia without so much thought of giving something in return. Well the ‘note’ is coming due with massive amounts of interest and humans will get their legs and arms broken,at the least, by Earth’s enforcers. She’s just getting started and I personally think it’s already too late, but perhaps I’m wrong. Humans, to use another analogy, are like the bacteria in a Petre dish, at first they thrive, then they top out and rapidly die off entirely. Humans have already topped out.
Thank you, Ms. West, for speaking for us toddlers so eloquently that even those of our species who do not recognize themselves in that stage might understand how deeply we grieve losing our wild companions. Those wondrous living beings–we know so little about them, but enough to see there’s a lot more they could teach us. Over the last 3.8 billion years, life on this planet has learned a lot and by turning our attention outward, we could learn, too. Some are, like Janine Benyus of Biomimicry 3.8, who has made a science of the respectful observation that Elizabeth West suggests. I recommend Janine Benyus’ Ted talks, her books, and any interview with her you can find online (i.e., Janine Benyus on how to design like nature). Note also that we now have the technological tools–like remote sensing satellites and geographic information systems (GIS) software–for gathering big data and analyzing it. We can tag and follow the routes of butterflies, and in about 13 years, humans will have finally mapped our planet’s seas all the way down to the ocean floor. We have everything we need for planning ahead wisely and for healing some of the damage we’ve done. All we lack is the will. Perhaps the awe and wonderment of what we are about to discover in nature will motivate us to activate our will, and we’ll reciprocate the generosity toward life that even tree roots demonstrate. Ever hopeful…
Beautiful piece and so very true. I will direct readers to the 09/11/2017 Democracy Now show in which a very young scientist describes how the death of many parasites, a species we always think are detrimental, are having a huge and disastrous impact on other species that are known and loved by most, namely deer, elephants, giraffes and on and on. For a 21 year old to be able to grasp this it remarkable. For the masses to grasp this would be miraculaous. Let us hope, let us hope.
I think you might be right. I am wondering about the condition before: “it won’t be long till we join them.”
Thank you Elizabeth. Maybe all we can do is grieve, since we are so deeply wound up in the technological approach to problems that few people can even imagine another way. For thousands of years we’ve been making things better, and this is the result. We needed to listen to the world instead of changing it without understanding it. Chief Seattle warned us, and he wasn’t the first or the last, but we didn’t listen.
Thank you, Elizabeth West, for an important and beautiful piece of writing. You perfectly captured what many of us feel, but can’t adequately express. The earth, no doubt, would be better off without us.
As a wildlife biologist, I am very grateful to see this thoughtful piece. I hope it’s widely shared and republished.
While it seems we have evolved to be exactly the self-centered beings you describe, we also possess the intellect and empathy to act beyond ourselves. But we have to feel secure enough in our own lives to exercise those abilities; and we have to be educated to cultivate and use them. This essay helps.
Nature always bats, last.
The Mango Mussolini made a horrific decision to pull out of The Paris Accords. Wish his father were as careless in his passion with Mafia Don’s mom.
Fucking jerk. Impeach the prick and flush his dirty cabal.
Every time a species goes extinct, Mother Earth weeps. I wonder - will she weep for us?
I will side with this eminent poet of foresight.
“Also a day will come when the earth
Will scratch herself and smile and rub off humanity.”
Beautiful and thoughtful piece.
With civilization came thinking. Human beings are now ruled by their minds. And thoughts which they think are “real.” They don’t so much think as they “are being thought.” As humans awake from their sleep-induced stupor, the trappings of civilization no longer have any meaning. Nor the divisions (between people) upon which the trappings depend.
Now close your eyes, take a deep breath and go inside-that’s where it all begins and ends.
Mother nature has always experimented with life. “Intelligence” is just one. I’m thinking that she will have to mark this one up as a failure…. on a massive scale.
I’m not sure that Mother nature has yet created “intelligence”. I would not consider “intelligence” to be an attribute of humans. I would substitute the word cleverness for intelligence when it comes to the human experiment.
“…this summer’s ‘natural’ disasters have been seeded anthropogenically.”
And then some, Elizabeth. But, not all of humanity is guilty, initially: only those who adopted the modern capitalist mode of economy - that is to say, without much regard for the sustainable well-being of society and the planet.
So, we know who to blame, categorically. Now, of course, it matters little to apportion ongoing blame; the four horsemen, so to speak, bolted long ago.
It’s taken 250 years or so to reach this stage of planetary destruction. From what I’ve read, it will take twice that for the planet to recover, with or without our survival as a species.
The party’s over.
I hope you are aware that most species that have evolved on the earth are now extinct because they evolved into the species that exist now. You might want to Google mass extinction events.