Friday, February 18, 2011

Save the Planet?

This clip, by a favorite comedian of mine, says what I've believed a long time. See, I was thinking the other evening, as I sat out on the back porch looking at the chain link fences and telephone lines, listening to the endless roar of airplanes and lawnmowers, about how sad it was that the Earth here was so subdued, no longer free to be what it wants to be (around here, I suppose a mix of prairie and oak-hickory forest).

Wait, what? The Earth doesn't have wants. The land is only itself, it is what it is. It does not feel our heavy hand upon it. It doesn't care about our fences and smog. It doesn't care about the "non-native" sparrows busy everywhere. And if lawns stare blank and dull at the sky where the wildflower prairie once winked at the sun with a million glowing eyes, the sky knows not the change. The animal populations rise and fall, in accordance to the land's ability to provide for them, and they don't know any loss. They simply become fewer, or leave an area for good. If extinct, they aren't even around to mourn it if they could.

Furthermore. If half of, say, Iowa's topsoil is lost to the gullies and washed away to the sea, if the Earth is strip mined and gutted and fracked up the ass, well, it doesn't care. The earth will continue to be what it is. If what is is a ruin, something with less diversity and potential for life, it doesn't give two shits.

The only place this is a problem is in the human mind. I say this not in defense of environmental despoilation, nor from a sense of despair; it's just that more than anything, the problem is in ourselves, not out there in the Earth.

I'm having a hard time expressing what I mean, the idea seems to slip away as I try to get at it...

The land isn't meant to be anything. Sure, if we disappeared and no one was around to mow the lawns, Dallas would again become a savanna-like ecoregion, or whatever the changing climate will allow. Yes, the hills of Appalachia, or their rocks at least, stood as they are for 400 million years, through cycles of erosion and uplift, of being buried by silt, and then uncovered by river cutting... if we blast the peaks away for the coal and leave a flattened sore behind, Earth doesn't care about the change; it will eventually wash itself clean and start making new soil all over again, someday a new forest will grow there.

Yeah, this stuff still saddens me, but I must remember that the sadness is a human feeling, and a passing thing at that. While I may have to return to this point later to try to say what I mean, at least what can be taken from this is a more grounded sense of reality, and the problem of the environment.

It is a human problem and nothing more. I think it's an important distinction.

1 comment:

  1. It's a human-caused perception. No argument there. When we say we want to "Save the Earth", what we really mean is to save the earth as a planet hospitable to human life.