May 31, 2010

The World Without Us

alan weisman

I came across an Elephant Journal tweet that took me to this, by Jay Winston:

Hell, pumping every kind of toxin into our ground, air, and water while carelessly wasting every natural resource we can find is perhaps the single most defining characteristic of human society. Nonetheless, in big-picture terms, our total effect on Mother Earth really hasn’t amounted to anything more serious than a bad case of planetary eczema or psoriasis. And, the way things are going, we won’t be bothering her for long.

Take a look, it's a good, short read. But it brought an interview of our own to mind: Clark Strand interviewed Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us, for Tricycle some time ago. What would the earth be like without us? Turns out it'd recover pretty quickly but, as our friends at EJ tweeted back, "not all the sentient beings or biodiversity on it."

I once heard Gelek Rimpoche say, "The world will end but the dharma will continue." And this, from someone who is certainly concerned about the earth and its future and who is tuned into contemporary politics and culture. I didn't manage a follow-up question—it was at some gathering or other—maybe I'll  have that chance another time.

Image: old metal plating factory, 2006 © Rob Dobi

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James Shaheen's picture

Agreed-nicely put.

YogaforCynics's picture

Sounds like you understood my article a lot better than the tweeter. The point is that, in a very broad sense, the earth and the natural order will survive, much as Weisman points out. But that broad sense is particularly useful to us. In terms of our own lives, and compassion for other beings, we need to look at things in a smaller sense, in which, at this point in time, we are an essential part of nature, and, thus, making war on it is making war on ourselves.