Thursday, December 11, 2008

We are all in this together

I am one of those Greens who believes that everything positive emanates from an ecological view of the universe. In simple terms, we can not achieve economic justice, social justice, world peace or any other positive goal unless we begin with the understanding that everything is connected in so many ways that to diminish one is to diminish all.

In some recent reading, I find that I am in good company. Click Read more! for a few well chosen examples.

Czeslaw Milosz won a Nobel Prize in Literature. The fist of his book that I read was The Captive Mind. Like Akshay Ahuja's personal commentary on this, I pick and choose. What I choose is maybe a minor point for Milosz.
Once he science of nature taught that a forest was a collective of trees governed by a few elementary laws. It seemed that if one cut out the forest and replanted it, after a definite period of years a new forest, exactly like the old, would appear. Today we know this is not so; a forest is an organism arising out of complicated interactions of mosses, soil, fungi, trees and grasses. The moment these mosses and fungi are destroyed by the cutting out of the forest, the symbiotic pattern is disturbed and the new forest is a completely different organism from what we might be expected by someone who ignored the sociology of plants.
This, from a book published in 1953. Milosz's intent was to criticize the stultifying effects of Stalinist Communism on the intelligentsia of Europe Europe. However, the view of what was considered to be "known" at that time has still not become a matter of political policy; not in the new states of Eastern Europe and surely not in the United States of the 21st Century.

The clearest, most recent commentary on our current situation came from Paul Nurse, Michael Novacek and Edward O. Wilson on the Charlie Rose Show Monday Night, Dec. 8, 2008. Novacek, Sr. Vice-president of the American Museum of Natural History states the situation clearly.
So, one of the keys there is to say that these problems on the environment are not really separate from many of these others, that there is a huge relationship, as Paul just explained, between biodiversity and the sustainability of ecosystems and biodiversity and our economic potentials, and our potentials in health, which is very high on the radar screen in terms of the problem.
Rose brought forward another aspect of the problem that faces us all.
One of the things I worry about with the economic crisis is that because it is so severe and so urgent and so pervasive, it’s pushing lots of things off the table right now.
I think all of these big named scientists missed the opportunity to state what is so obvious, at least to me. We need to change the manner in which we evaluate potential solutions to our problems. If we solve the economic problems today by killing off a few million species, then we are all made less than we should be. It is not so much the choice of goals but the methods we use to reach those goals that needs to change.

It appears that not much of what Milosz said that we knew in 1953 has really been connected to what we do, even after 55 years and several generations.

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