Saturday, November 17, 2007

~ I am the lorax. I speak for the trees

Thoughts on the looming election.

We are exceedingly complex organisms, evolved from an exceedingly complex biological system. It is said the human brain is the most complicated thing in the universe, but the brain itself is a component of a thing far more intricate and vast: nature, the totality of life on this planet considered as a whole - on which we remain entirely dependent for our continued survival.

As we have proliferated and developed as a civilisation, we have increasingly isolated ourselves from our ecological matrix, from nature. We have acquired tastes, desires, needs that exist in a place apart from nature, and which are sometimes directly at odds with it. Consider electricity, computational power, mechanical assistance, recreational assistance, medical technology. We are so deeply immersed in this artificial superstructure that we frequently forget that we are, as ever, as always, wholly, of the Earth.

When we travel off-world in our magnificent machines, however briefly, we must take a portion of our atmosphere, food from the soil, the bacterial flora in our gut, the microscopic monsters that tend our eyelashes….

Some of the instincts that served us in pre-history have found new focus in a civilised world. They have transmuted into such things as greed, the urge to acquire far beyond one’s actual need. Many of us consume simply to be seen consuming more than our neighbour. We expect, almost as a right, a standard of living which would have astonished our forbears. In a world of gross unrestrained consumption, the pack instinct, refocused, can lead to the rape of the Earth.

The urge to power leads to ultra-violence - against each other, against other animals, against the fabric of nature herself. And it can lead to slavery in everything but name. And discrimination. Prejudice. The loss of contact with the fundamentals of our existence can lead to the perversions of torture and the tools of mega-death …

In the last decade, we have acquired sufficient evidence to know, without doubt, that our civilisation is destroying its foundation. Nature is no longer swinging with the punches. Soon, our planet, our mother, will be a hostile place that will no longer abide our excesses. Of course, I am speaking of climate change here, the greenhouse effect, the mass extinction of species... Humanity, we have learnt, is literally a plague upon the Earth.

I ask the reader to keep the above in mind, if you are voting in the upcoming [Australian] federal election.

The SBS programme Insight, in a recent episode, corralled an audience of undecided voters. I did not see it all, but over the period I watched not one of them counted environmental degradation among their concerns. They spoke of house prices, interest rates, taxes, the economy … they spoke for themselves, for themselves only, not for the community, and not for the ultimate provider of the air they breathe, the food they eat, the body and the mind they inhabit - though that provider is under dire threat. To my mind, hip-pocket voting is an abomination. The act of indulging the hip pocket voter is an abomination. [Certainly the suffering of many people could be eased by better government policy in the economic realm, but not at the cost of the planet]

We have come to a time in which only one issue counts - and beneath its rubric, the sub-issues of social equity, education, research/development which may give us the ability as a community to save ourselves.

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1 comment:

Matt said...

Damn right, Sam.

As the late Wisconsin Governor Gaylord Nelson said: "the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the other way around".