2 Responses

  1. Richard DeBacher November 27, 2013 at 7:34 pm |

    I posted a comment in the Times when Mr. Scranton’s essay was published. An expanded version of those comments follows:
    I’m grateful to Mr. Scranton for his essay, to the Times for publishing it and to the many thoughtful comments from other readers. To those who adhere to the belief that humankind will invent its way out of the current morass I would emphasize that Mr. Scranton is not only alluding to the threat of climate change. He correctly mentions the host of other potentially disastrous self-imposed threats to our human civilization and planetary well-being such as the onset of the sixth great extinction event, impending global fresh water shortages, the degradation of arable land, the toxic runoff of pesticides and fertilizers into our oceans and waterways, the threat of deadly viruses, and the abuse of antibiotics. The list goes on. We could stop burning all fossil fuels tomorrow and grave environmental dangers would abide for many years.

    So long as our civilization rests on growth-based capitalism that depends on ever greater consumption of goods to survive, we face this inescapable fact: the planet is finite; endless growth necessarily becomes a cancer upon the host body, and in this case that body is Mother Earth. Western spiritual traditions remind us that we fell from a state of nature and into what we wrongly came to see as the “rise” of civilization and our alienation from nature grew as we made a Faustian pact with the devil who promised us limitless bounty in exchange for the gift of technology. And as long as we turn only to technology to solve the problems created by the abuse of that gift, we are doomed. Unfortunately, in politics, as Mr. Clinton said, “It’s the economy, stupid.” The only way out is to assert the primacy of the planet that sustains us: “It’s the ecology, stupid” must be the guiding principle for future actions.

    The path of wisdom is to learn to live with one another in peace and sustainably upon Mother Earth. I remain deeply skeptical that we will find that path and reverse the momentum taking us toward environmental collapse. Wasn’t it E.O. Wilson who reminded us that the evidence for the evolutionary advantage of intelligence is yet to be identified? Remember Enrico Fermi’s paradox: Our star is a young star. Certainly among countless billions of older stars there are planets on which intelligent life evolved long before it sprang up on Earth. Why do we have no incontrovertible evidence for such civilizations? From what I’ve seen, it’s in the nature of intelligent life to destroy itself. I hope I am wrong for the sake of my grandchildren and all the young children and living things on this beautiful planet.

  2. Silverman November 25, 2013 at 4:41 pm |

    typical “Occupy” stuff – in that there is a lot of fancy talk and various points that hit or ring nicely but no real answers are offered. The guy in the “Times” sounds terrible, true.
    And, what “logic” is there in this destruction of the earth? “The suicidal logic…” This occurs a little over halfway through. It is not logic at all. Neither is the writing of this stuff. And where is the “movement for radical change on the streets”? Is oil really “dinosaur-goo”? Or did this writer just decide it was? Radical “Occupy”-goo, though. Sorry, Ian.

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