Crab on Environmentism

The universe, or if you like, Nature, is generally ambivalent about the state of the environment. So long as the world continues to observe the laws of physics, it is ipso facto “natural”. e.g. greenhouse gases pumped into the air, human-caused or not, is still just natural old carbon dioxide, only more of it. The natural processes of Earth will react and adjust accordingly. A shift in a predominant quality, substance, species, will result in a reaction that eventually finds some balance. (You could argue that human-caused imbalances are happening at a rate faster than Nature can comfortably react, but that just makes for a more violent reaction. This is an argument in degree, not of kind.)

For Nature, there is no objective value of tigers or panda bears or the great barrier reef or the polar ice caps. Who cares if a particular animal dies or even an entire species goes extinct? In the long scale of Earth, these are blips of consequence. New species will arise, new chemical processes will dominate, new environmental cycles will be sustained.

What I mean to say is that, since nature really has no fixed objective value, the environmentalism cause is really about preserving a particular set of natural parameters that happen to be the parameters that sustain human life on Earth. This is the principle by which all “green” efforts should be weighed. (I don’t need to talk about the circle of life, do I? Every species and biological perpetuates what we need. Plants make sugar and oxygen from sunlight, we need those. Sugars and other vitamins concentrate in higher lifeforms that we eventually eat. Smaller lifeforms break down dead bits into spare parts. Etc etc. We need all of it.)

It also follows from this that because the natural processes on earth are incredibly complex and intertwined (see, the old yarn about butterflies and monsoons), and our understanding as to how to properly manipulate these forces remain so rudimentary and have many unforeseen consequences (e.g. DDT), our best bet is to maintain the status quo of the earth. AKA, conservation.

So this means preventing a species from going extinct is generally a good thing. That is, losing a given species is not bad because it is a beautiful creature full of grace and majesty, but because its extinction could disrupt the web of species we rely on. There’s also the strength of biodiversity, wherein an ecosystem is more resilient to change if it is ecologically diverse (and does not put all of its species in a single basket, like say a corn crop.)

But keeping species on life support has its limits. If a species is no longer contributing to the ecosystem (e.g. It only exists in zoos or in labs), then we should let it be extinguished. we need to remind ourselves that species can naturally go extinct (just like how a gazelle can naturally get killed and eaten). I also think certain species are a goddamn waste of taxpayer money and time (i am looking at you, giant panda).

This is starting to feel repetitive so I will conclude here (perhaps if I think of more re-imagined green ideas I will update). So, traditionally, environmental activists are seen as do-gooding, virtuous people. But why? As i tried to clarify, environmentalism is actually an entirely selfish cause, species-wise. I think any environmental cause is doomed to fail until it acknowledges it is self-serving, and their appeals are restructured accordingly. Honestly, I think the bulk of this scribble scrabble is self evident, especially with the coming of massive climate change, that makes it apparent how our biological processes are threatened, but maybe it wasn’t clear to you. I hope it is now.

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