It seems I am going through a reassessment this week. Tonight I was rethinking my long-term goal for humanity, while listening to a lecture by George Wuerthner, Ecological Projects Director at the Foundation for Deep Ecology. My distant goal for humanity was to maximize human happiness potential by maximizing the total number of hours of human life. To accomplish that goal I filter various ideas through our current population explosion to a time when perhaps only ten million people are living in ecological balance with the processes of the Earth.
Wuerthner has very different goals with what he calls, but what I think is misnamed, Deep Ecology. What he talked about was what I think of as short-term goals. The oldest date he even mentioned was the creation of the Yellowstone National Park in 1872, and that first United States national park inspired national park systems worldwide. When I think of humanity I go back 10,000 years to the beginning of human settlements. It’s a convenient abstract date, but a fixed point in time and human population. It makes more sense to have specific numbers because then more specific things can be said. This idea springs from my problem with politicians who talk about permanent solutions, when they actually mean something they can defend in the next election cycle. Thus for them a permanent solution can be as little as four years.
Wuerthner’s deep ecology is very shallow by my conception, and it was totally focused on political infighting between the money grubbers and the John Muir wilderness ideology followers, that I am also close to in short-term political aspirations. He spent the first half of his lecture trying to confront the swirl of disinformation his opposition is disseminating. Those people’s goal is to make money, and they couch their information, their propaganda, in terms of serving people. They form their rhetoric around managing the forests and wilderness for the benefit of humanity. That sounds really good if you happen to be of the species Homo sapiens, but the other hundred million species might not think it’s such a good idea, because it is killing them. The money grubbers cultivate their message by slandering the ecology movement as communists, or socialists, or watermelons – green on the outside and red on the inside. It is difficult to cope with accusations such as that because among the millions of supporters of ecological ideas there are no doubt some of those types. But that isn’t the basic thrust of the movement. The main idea is to preserve some of the Earth’s natural beauty so living people can have some remembrance of things past.
Deep ecology is also about saving as many of Earth’s species as possible, because we as the dominant mindful species need to perform the task of stewardship of it all. The money grubbers claim to be working for humanity too, and they just happen to be selling tobacco, coal, oil, and other things that make them wealthy. Of course they are just expressing their moral interest in protecting humanity by promoting information that supports their cause. They say all information should be supplied to the public so they can make informed decisions, and who knows how much oil is in the ground, or how much CO2 the atmosphere can hold.
I have little hope that humanity can save the natural ecology by creating national parks, because the argument will always be made by those in need that they are only harvesting the wild animals to feed their starving children. Those poachers are justified by existential necessities, while the preserves are only supported by the laws and a few underpaid police.
People accuse me of being gloom-and-doom when I suggest The Earth Ark.