March 09, 2008

The planet will save itself

The planet will save itself. This is the underlying message of Lovelock's Gaia, that the biosphere itself will force us to adapt or die, but that it's under no great threat, no greater than any it's faced in the past. The rallying cry of environmentalism is something along the lines of 'humans vs nature', but that miscasts the thing. Humans can never win against nature. We're part of it, and can only adapt to its changing terms.

Listening to Craig Venter from my last post, and it's clear that the bulk of the genetic diversity on the planet- and I guess the bulk of living material - is invisible to the naked eye. The plants and the animals are nice, but they're not the thing itself. No matter what we do or don't, life will continue to thrive. So the notion of us protecting the planet is rather misguided, as it's going to do just fine, with or without us, the whales, the spotted owl, whatever. DNA is tough, it's one instinct is to thrive.

Our concern is a little like an ant colony worrying it's going to kill the householders it's stealing from. The colony will get rooted out way before it goes that far.

When it comes to protecting the environment, the species it matters most to is us.

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