One of Kate's Little Soap-Boxes

These days I don't get as bugged by environmental silliness as I used to, mostly because I think the tide is turning. The insistence that the environment is beyond repair, the earth is dying (from overpopulation, from the ozone layer burning off, doom doom doom) is slowly being replaced by more thoughtful analysis about the complexity of the planet.

Nevertheless, I don't suppose it hurts to throw another bit of eye-rolling-at-environmentalists onto the information highway (wow! that's an old metaphor).

Here it is: it really bugs me when the idea of "saving Mother Earth" is divorced from the idea of saving humans.

I think both "Mother Earth" and humans are sturdier than they are given credit for. But every once in awhile, I encounter this sentimental and maudlin idea that environmentalists are doing what they do for the sake of Mother Earth.

Why should She care?

It is sentimental and maudlin because (1) it anthropomorphizes THE EARTH; (2) it assumes that an anthropomorphized EARTH isn't happy unless it exists in accordance with human standards.

From a non-human point of view, there's no good reason THE EARTH (if, like Dorothy's Scarecrow, it only had a brain) wouldn't be just as happy riddled with volcanoes, secreting poisonous gases into the atmosphere and killing off bears. Or dinosaurs. Or whatever the latest endangered species is.

It's just a little too convenient that THE EARTH'S needs would so exactly correspond to people's needs: lots of green, pleasant weather, and, as a lab geek says in CSI, "This really frosts my lizard. I go out to the lake to get away from the casinos. Well, there goes jet-skiing."

As Leonard says to Penny, "What's up with that?" 

I have far more respect for environmentalists like Bjørn Lomborg who set out to determine how saving the world will benefit humans. And who keep asking, "Can we make this cost-effective?"

But I have little to no patience with anyone trying to tell me what the earth needs or wants.

In a sort of tangent, some of those who belong to the latter category will admit that they are basically pagans (not scientists). However, I would have to disagree with them. Well, okay, modern pagans. But ancient pagans? Nah.

The fantastic thing about ancient paganism was how incredibly materialist it was. Pagans weren't worshiping earth gods because they loved the earth; they were worshiping earth gods, so they could dig up the land and make money. Or just not die. They were Camille Paglia, not Wiccans.

I always find self-interest much more trustworthy than its lack. (At least when the monotheistic religions said, "Be good for the sake of goodness," they were upfront about it: "And if you think this is going to get you bags of glory in the immediate future, think again.")


a calvinist preacher said...

Amen and amen.

Eugene said...

The total mass of bacteria on the planet outweighs all other living things combined. The human body contains more bacteria by number than human cells. We're just a way for the bacteria to get around. What Mother Nature really wants to do is turn us into more bacteria food. The human race is basically King Hezekiah, bargaining for a few more years.

Then again, the sun blows up in the last act, so maybe what Mother Nature really wants to do is sterilize everything.