Tuesday, October 3, 2006

eco: polar bears, other nations, and genocide

Does the environment matter? Well, here's one thought about it, often misquoted or quoted in part.

We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.
from The Outermost House by Henry Beston (1888-1968)

Because each one of us leads an energy-intensive life that produces tons and tons of waste carbon dioxide, and because there are over 6,500,000,000 of us, the arctic ice is melting, and so polar bears, to me the most amazing beasts on land or sea, are dying. They are drowning, despite being incredible swimmers, because the pack ice from which they hunt seals is vanishing.

There is no consequence for this, no God will reach down to punish us. Those who care will find it hard to go on living, those who don't will be happy idiots.

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