I have been reading two books about the devastating effects of this now officially declared Anthropocene era. The first is the now famous The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert ( Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2014). The other, an attempt to illustrate how we can live right in a time of environmental crisis, is Hope Beneath Our Feet edited by Martin Keogh (North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, 2010).
Hope Beneath Our Feet is an anthology of writings. Some are good, some are a little too spiritual for my liking. There are two that stand out. One is by Ben Gadd, a Canadian naturalist. bengadd.com . His article, titled ‘Living with Losing’ starts with ” You are not going to like what I am about to say, but it’s the truth. We have lost. Those of us who have tried to save the world from the depredations of our own species have lost.”
It ends with ” If I have learned what is wrong with the world, I am grateful also to have learned what is right. I can live with that.”
The other article is one by the late Howard Zinn. www.howardzinn.org
It is titled “The Optimism of Uncertainty”. ” I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game before all the cards have been played. The metaphor is deliberate; life is a gamble. Not to play is to foreclose any chance of winning.”
And now to “The Sixth Extinction”
If you haven’t read it, why not ? It’s well written in non-scientific language and it is one of the most important intellectually accessible books on the subject. It deserves its Pulitzer Prize.
Part of the last paragraph of the book is this. “Obviously the fate of our own species concerns us disproportionately. But at the risk of sounding anti-human – some of my best friends are humans! – I will say that it is not, in the end, what’s most worth attending to. Right now, in the amazing moment that to us counts as the present, we are deciding, without quite meaning to, which evolutionary pathways will remain open and which will forever be closed.”
Don’t do this
At least learn about what’s going to happen, I implore you.