Chatting With Ishmael II

(Continued from the Preceding post)

Ishmael, you tell us that, “The world was given to man to turn into a paradise, but he has always screwed it up because he’s fundamentally flawed.”  I’m honestly not sure who did the giving.  In terms of flaws, you say that we humans are biological beings, but beings with a rather high concept of ourselves who consider ourselves an exception to the rules of life.  Actually, I think we can make a rather strong point that we are different.  Hold on now, hold on!  I didn’t say that we are an exception, but I think we can make a point for being different.  After all, your thoughts are in something called a book.  Books appear to be the exclusive artifact of humanity.  We could say the same thing about our use of computers or the roads I just took into town.  Is it possible, Ishmael, that we can do all of these things and still not be able to see where our environmentally destructive paths are taking us?  We demonstrate daily that it is indeed possible.

It was your hope that by communicating with selected students you could pass on your concerns and suggestions, and you have done that now for about two decades.  You’ll be happy to know that there has been some progress, at least in knowledge.  A handful of us now have a greater understanding of how global geological and atmospheric processes work.  But it is a small handful. The science of ecology continues to contribute to our understanding of the very intricate nature of life process on global, regional, and local levels.  But, unfortunately only a handful  understand these studies.  My own field, Conservation Biology, has begun to more carefully link human processes (e.g. population, economics, social systems, etc.) within ecosystems and bioregions. 

It is unlikely, however, even with greater knowledge, that we will be able to reverse the trends that continue degrading the quality of life on Earth and the extirpation of much of it.  You offer us hope that humanity holds the ability to become aware of and reverse the damage.  Aware, yes, but reverse, I’m afraid not.  My lifetime in conservation biology is a testimony to your warning that each of us “…contributes daily to the destruction of the world.”  I have watched that happen and I’m worried, very, very worried.


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