Thoughts on environmentalism....

With every idea in the material word, I always find myself coming back to nihilism. Entropy. Blackness. Though at the same time, I still find satisfaction quite regularly in my day to day life. Is that a contradiction? Maybe.

So I will start by spelling out an idea that has been churning in my head for the past week or two, that I have already dismissed, but still have decided to follow.

It started with a hostage takeover a few weeks ago of the Discovery Channel. When I see these things, I always try to get inside the mind of the person. What idea could compel someone to take an action so drastic that they could risk their own life for it?

The gunman was a deranged, and quite radical environmentalist. Who viewed, among other things, human population growth as the main source of the world's problems. His idea's can be found here. It's not a new idea, but there was something about the way he said it, that made me realize I was deeply complicit in the insanity which we partake in on a daily basis. I have included a few of the most vivid quotes below.

"Focus must be given on how people can live WITHOUT giving birth to more filthy human children since those new additions continue pollution and are pollution."

"World War II had 2 Billion humans and after that war, the people decided that tripling the population would assure peace. WTF??? STUPIDITY! MORE HUMANS EQUALS MORE WAR!"

"Programs must be developed to find solutions to stopping ALL immigration pollution and the anchor baby filth that follows that. Find solutions to stopping it. Call for people in the world to develop solutions to stop it completely and permanently. Find solutions FOR these countries so they stop sending their breeding populations to the US and the world to seek jobs and therefore breed more unwanted pollution babies. FIND SOLUTIONS FOR THEM TO STOP THEIR HUMAN GROWTH AND THE EXPORTATION OF THAT DISGUSTING FILTH! (The first world is feeding the population growth of the Third World and those human families are going to where the food is! They must stop procreating new humans looking for nonexistant jobs!)"

"Correct and dismantle the dangerous US world economy. Find solutions for their disasterous Ponzi-Casino economy before they take the world to another nuclear war"

"For every human born, ACRES of wildlife forests must be turned into farmland in order to feed that new addition over the course of 60 to 100 YEARS of that new human’s lifespan!"

"It is the responsiblity of everyone to preserve the planet they live on by not breeding any more children who will continue their filthy practices. Children represent FUTURE catastrophic pollution whereas their parents are current pollution. NO MORE BABIES! Population growth is a real crisis. Even one child born in the US will use 30 to a thousand times more resources than a Third World child. It’s like a couple are having 30 babies even though it’s just one! If the US goes in this direction maybe other countries will too!"


I guess I should start by saying none of this ultimately matters. I don't think humans have the capacity to destroy the amorphous concept of "life." If there is one thing I have faith in, it is the persistence of biological organisms to adapt. It's sheer volume. Billions of eggs, billions of sperm, mutation. Try.Try Try. Eventually something will work. Yes, change will come at the expense of other organisms, but I really don't think we have the capacity to destroy it all (or even ourselves for that matter).

For instance, even if global warming continues, and the world gets so hot the oceans just boil, the little deep sea organisms living on underwater sea vents will just spread out.... or something like that. It's just a different world than we have now. And that will continue until the sun blows up, or the earth's core cools and the magnetic fields protecting us from solar winds vanish and we burn up. Then our little rock will float until it ends up in some black hole or is shattered to bits by some asteroid and goes into a billion pieces. I say that to point out that I think environmentalism is flawed in the sense that it is just saving something that is going to die anyway. Kind of like performing a heart transplant on a 90 year old woman. Yeah, it will work, but the end is still in sight.

Anyway, I don't think that means it is wrong. It still does good. Because regardless of what happens eons from now, there will be real people, and plants and animals who will live in the world we create over the next few centuries. It will be a world that those I love inherit after I die.

So forgetting that, and focusing on the reality of the present situation, I think that there are usually two different ways of looking at the situation. The first being that humans are "special" or humans are just another species of life on earth and aren't inherently more valuable than the others.

Western civilization takes the approach (probably stemming from a belief in god) that we are special and the world is ours for the harvesting until we have depleted it. The alternate approach is something along the lines of the various native North American tribes that once lived where I live today. Generally speaking, they lived in "harmony" with a healthy respect for where they lived.

I think both of these approaches are wrong. I think humans are special, but only because we have the ability to control our actions. I think it's silly to view our homes as anything different that anthills. Our graveyards as anything different than a pile of bones under an eagle's nest. That a man made lake is somehow different than a flooded creek from a beavers dam.

I was at a writer's workshop and we were talking about that concept. I think it was summed up best when a local poet said something along the lines of... I was walking along the river and among the familiar sounds of nature, one was missing, the voice of children playing.

I also think that the way we view Native American's harmoniously existing with nature is inaccurate, but that it is also out of sync with what happens in nature. Some have even suggested they were just as pollutive as us, but simply didn't posses the capacity. They couldn't even make paper.

But regardless, taking a population to the point of over capacity is what nature does, so I can't help but find irony in the fact that we are naturally doing what a species in biology would be expected to in our circumstances but it is called unnatural. Deer in a newly burned forest. Rats in hawaii. Kudzu. Feral pigs. A species populates until it can't anymore or until a natural predator emerges. That doesn't make it wrong or right. That's just the way it is.

I say all of that to say that the words above made me realize I was complicit and that I think my problem is that I know I am being selfish with what I have been given. That I don't think babies are inherently pollutive but I certainly think that WE are. That maybe China is doing more for the environment by reducing it's population than we are by raising our vehicle MPG. For my entire life I have viewed being "environmentally friendly" as turning the thermostat down, putting trash in the trash can, and carpooling. I did all of the practical things I was supposed to do. But after reading this, I began to see that I was part of a broken system. Every where I go I leave a constant trail of pollution and whether it ends up in the trashcan or not doesn't really matter. It's not any less of a problem because we put it in a big pile at some landfill and cover it up with dirt. It's not hard to see trashcans themselves as pollution. That our disposable lives are a waste. We wear clothes until they go out of fashion. We get new cars every few years. I heat an entire house when I could just wear more clothes.

BUT that at the same time even if I viewed said pollution as no big deal, the simple overuse of resources is enough to make me want to change because it will lead to the extinction of my basic way life. I guess what I value are the things I find beautiful, and want to do what I can to nurture and preserve them for as long as I can, even if I know they are headed towards oblivion.

Maybe what I value is art, in all its form.

Sorry that was so scattered... Any comments??