Part 1 – Symptoms
We have a problem, but it’s not that we’re killing the earth.
We couldn’t ‘kill the earth’ if we tried. We’d be shaken off like dead lice before we could make much of a dent with our pitiful nuclear weapons, factory smokestacks, and logging companies.
Life on this planet has been through (and survived) far worse than we can throw at it. We could kill a lot of the species — probably most of them — but not life.
Even after a nuclear holocaust, life would churn away, in hidden corners, cracks, and crevices, until the radiation was dissipated (or eaten by Radiotrophic fungi). Then it would flourish again, and evolve new and diverse forms. Species have always come and gone. It is only our somewhat narrow lens of ‘conservation’ that seeks to freeze the state of nature and biodiversity as they were when we came onto the scene.
The planet’s environment is in flux, as it always is. We are most definitely having our effect on it, but it cannot be ‘destroyed’. Not by us.
Now before you accuse me of being a bit dense, I want to assure you that I understand what people mean when they say we’re killing the planet. They mean that we are making it uninhabitable, for us.
It is us, and many other species, that we are hurting. Not ‘the environment’. Not ‘the earth’. Us. Our habitat. Our ecosystem. Obviously, I don’t think this is a good thing, but it’s not ‘the problem’. It’s a symptom.
You know what else isn’t the problem? Our governments. Dogmatic religious organizations. Corporations. They aren’t doing much to provide solutions, but they aren’t ‘the problem’. Institutions and ideologies aren’t things that can do things. They definitely aren’t things that can cause problems. They are symptoms of the problem, and they can only manifest when people embody them. They are beliefs, ideas, and ways of being. They are infectious patterns of thought that exist within and between people, and they spread because people spread them.
“You and I have created it, not a capitalist nor a communist nor a fascist society, but you and I have created it in our relationship with each other. What you are within has been projected without, on to the world; what you are, what you think and what you feel, what you do in your everyday existence, is projected outwardly, and that constitutes the world.”
That’s right. People choose to spread them. The problem has to do with people, but the problem isn’t people. It’s not human nature. I’m not a misanthrope.
These infectious ideologies spring up and are sustained not because people are inherently bad or evil, not because we carry some genetic defect or are the embodiment of original sin, but because of a glitch. A glitch in something which is much more fundamental, yet luckily much more malleable than an institution or ideology.