From Timothy Morton. The Ecological Thought. Harvard UP 2010, p. 19:
The ecological thought must transcend the language of apocalypse. It’s ironic that we can imagine the collapse of the Antarctic ice shelves more readily than we can the collapse of the banking system—and despite this, amazingly, as this book was written, the banking system did collapse. The ecological thought must imagine economic change; otherwise it’s just another piece on the game board of capitalist ideology. The boring, rapacious reality we have constructed, with its familiar, furious, yet ultimately state whirl, isn’t the final state of history. The ecological society to come will be much more pleasurable, far more sociable, and ever so much more reasonable than we imagine.
Yes. By all means, transcend apocalypse, transcend capitalism. The future CAN be better.
At the same time I want to imagine the worst. Climate change: Whooosssshhh and crunch. Billions will suffer and die. Humans, but not only humans. Other flora and fauna as well. Trillions upon trillions.
We humans may well climate-change ourselves to extinction. But the earth will survive. Life will survive. And thrive. Not the same life that was here a billion years ago, a million years, ten-thousand, one-hundred, yesterday. But life will go on, and flourish, without us.
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To think we are necessary for life on earth, that is to give ourselves too much a place in things. Do we really think that we have more power than the asteroid that crashed into the earth 65,000,000 years ago and wiped out species after species and changed earth’s history? We don’t have that power. Not in a million years, and we’ve only been here for 100,000.
And yet life survived that asteroid.
It will survive us.
It is not about us.
We need to free ourselves of the burden of our self-importance. Maybe then, only then, can we pick up the burden of caring for the earth in our best, fragile, way.
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All too often when people get hit over the head with the story of impending eco-disaster they clench and crawl into the comfortable carapace of the belief: IT”S ALL ABOUT US. It’s that belief the fuels denial and helps snowball the eco-disaster it strenuously denies.
Years ago I read about the guardians of baboon troops. They’d sit at the periphery of the troop and survey the surrounding savanna for danger. If a youngster should stray too far from the troop, too close to danger, they’d hit the youngster a sharp one.
To make the youngster run to safety. And where’s safety? With the adult who hit the youngster, behind that adult, with the troop.
That mechanism, that algorithm, is buried in our brains. In some situations it serves us well. But it can also harm us. Could that be the algorithm that further binds the victim to the chronic abuser?
Could that be the algorithm that binds climate denialism to climate destruction?
Let it go. The earth doesn’t need us. It won’t kill us. We can’t kill it. Let it go.
If we let it go, we can survive.
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