Save the Earth?

We do not need to save the Earth, it will be fine without us.  We cannot preserve the ecosystem because there are many, and they are constantly changing.  There has never been a time or a condition of the planet that has been inherently superior to any other.  There is nothing particularly superior about organisms that have been here for centuries, over ones that have just arrived from Asia in cargo holds.  All existing species are successful invasive species.  We are fairly successful, but far less so than cockroaches.  Most of the organisms that have ever been alive are dead, and their kind extinct.

We need to get rid of sanctimonious claims that Earth is our mother and we must nurture her.  Earth does not care whether we die out or not; it would be just fine as an iceball again.  Mars is not dead, and does not need to be revived.

The only entities to whom our continued existence as a species matters are ourselves, and possibly our dogs.  Certainly not our cats, still less our goldfish.

We need to get over the idea that we are harming nature.  We are nature.  Everything we do is natural, even if it leads to results unfavorable to ourselves.  We need to stop thinking in terms of preserving a sacred other, and realize that what we must do is keep the Earth suitable for ourselves to continue to live on.  That’s it, no holy quest, just pure self interest.  It’s something we’re rather good at.

Even then, if we are wildly successful, our species will no longer exist in a few million years, just as our Australopithecine ancestors no longer exist as a species.

Moral imperatives can be successfully refuted by mere denial; solid arguments based on evidence of our pure self interest are much more difficult to refute.  That’s just the way things are.

The nature of nature

You’re a nature lover; you find it revitalizes you, sweeps away the cobwebs (never mind the natural nature of cobwebs).  Alright, then!  Where to find it?

Perhaps you like to leave the city behind, get out where the air seems fresh.  Climb the mountain that refused Mohammad, go on a surfin’ safari, that sort of thing.  The thing is, all this artificiality gets you down, bro.  I mean like, wires, concrete, dump trucks, horns .. it just makes your head hurt.  Well, okay, not literally, most of the time, but it’s bad for the soul, right?  It’s not right, right?  It’s .. we’ve screwed it all up, the ecosystem, and we need to get back to..

To what?  The Ecosystem, the grand, immutable, capitalized Ecosystem?  Which one was that?  A hundred years ago?  Two seconds ago?  It’s a dynamic system, meaning there is no ecosystem to get back to, because we’re in it.  Now.  Maybe you don’t like it right now; that’s another issue.

The whole distinction between nature and artifice is wrong.  A Massey-Ferguson combine is no less natural than the stripped-down twig used by a bonobo to get at termites.  The mound built by the termites is the same, in essence, as the Sears Tower.  The differences we see are matters of degree, not kind.

Does that mean I don’t believe there’s an environmental crisis?  Not at all.  But it’s not Mother Nature that’s in danger.  It’s humanity, one of her least understood offspring.  The Earth doesn’t need saving; it will be just as fine as barren, acid-scarred rock as it is covered with what amounts to a thin slime of life.  Does Venus complain?  Does Mars feel inferior?  Who really cares about the current state of a lump of matter in the great nowhere?

Well, we do, because we care about the existence, or not, of our kind.  We mourn the passing of creatures we’ve never seen precisely because we might be next; we show no such compassion  for those closer to us: mice, cockroaches, wasps.  But these, too, are our kind, our mushy, pushy, boisterous, gustatory kind: living beings.

I see the value of greenery and what we call wildlife.  We’re changing our circumstances much faster than we evolve.  That’s our nature, after all.  It’s just that we don’t have much of a chance at surviving it all if we insist on seeing ourselves as apart from it all.

You want nature?  Look around you.  Cars.  Trees. Mountains.  Molehills.  Look inside that fortress skull in which you think you live.  That mushy gray stuff is as natural as sunsets and gamma radiation.