Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gaea, Earth, and such

I was meandering about the internet a bit today and read a little of what people say about the environment and how things are going.  While there are some people out there who approach the topic in pragmatic fashion the debate is usually far more clouded with rhetoric than I like.  I tend to agree with the platforms of the left wingers, the environmentalists who want harsher environmental laws and more sustainable practices but I regularly end up being frustrated by their ideologies.

The Earth is not a creature.  It does not have feelings, it cannot be injured and treating it like a person is counterproductive.  The idea that there is some kind of Gaea out there that is composed of all things just gets in the way of the practical debate that must take place.  I end up really frustrated when environmental debate is framed in such a way because I see absolutely no reason to bring irrational views of the nature of our world up to justify strong environmental action, the economics and politics of it is plenty convincing without that.  The Earth does not have a 'natural' state.  It has been constantly changing for its entire existence so far and will continue to change.  Note that humans are very well suited to the current state of the Earth and are pretty obviously evolved to survive on the Earth as it was a few hundred or thousand years ago so cataclysmic change is going to be bad for us but it won't be bad for some greater entity that comprises all things on our planet; that entity does not exist.

Personification of the planet is not the only place where environmentalists, professional or not, irritate me.  There seems to be a real perception out there that somehow the world was a much better place before humans went and invented all kinds of things.  Back in the day everyone was a subsistence farmer and lived in a pastoral, immaculate Garden of Eden.  Except, of course, if you were a woman, or happened to piss off the big man in charge, or had the temerity to get sick, or be born with a disease.  Regardless of which way you screwed up in being born you stood a really excellent chance of being dead at a very early age, never seeing anything more than 10 kilometers from where you were born and/or being owned body and mind by another person.  The world out there is harsh and deadly, which you can see any time you note that a cat living outdoors on its own is old at 3 and an indoor cat can expect to live past 15.  There are wonderful things about wild places but to idolize them and condemn all that is modern civilization is an exercise in self delusion.  If the ancient ways were so great you might actually see people running off in droves to go farm in the wilderness with wood and stone tools, and we all know how often that happens.

I bet people wonder why I get more ticked off by the romantic foolishness that plagues the environmental movement moreso than the greed and materialism than characterizes the other side of the debate.  I expect it is because I feel like the 'corporate' side, for lack of a better term, is already the opposition, doing things I do not understand or appreciate.  Just like most people I tend to see my greatest frustration and anger with those close to me, those who I have a connection with. (Just think about how married people feel after they decide to break up if you don't see what I mean!)  Rational or not, there it is.

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