The question of consciousness continues to devil us. If consciousness is distributed throughout the universe, then its appearance in humans is just one manifestation. Does it matter one way or the other how we think about this question? I think it does profoundly.
In this Trumpian era of alternative facts and truth isn’t the truth, it somehow seems fitting to expand further the fiction of personhood to include animals and Nature in the effort to save the environment. After all, it is their environment too.
Within recent months I’ve been bumping into an increased number of animal rights cases. Last week a horse name Justice was given 15 minutes of fame in the Washington Post (WaPo). The article triggered an “ah/hah” moment; today’s article is the result.
Now Andreas Malm, who won the prestigious Deutscher Memorial Prize for his 2015 book Fossil Capital, has written a powerful essay “to scrutinize some of the theories circulating at the nature/society junction in the light of climate change.” In clear and convincing prose, he shows that the “end of nature” thesis stems from deep confusion about the complex relationship between human society and the rest of nature.
Mari Margil says there are many communities across the U.S. that are pressing the issue of rights of nature through law making, community mobilization, and within the court system. The communities are building a movement and advancing a new paradigm for protecting the environment. “It’s a movement that in the past 10 years has accelerated rapidly,” she said.
It defies our normal modes of thinking that natural entities such as trees, rivers, mountains, lakes, and glaciers should be given legal standing in courts and public life. And yet we take as a matter of course the legal rights of other inanimate entities.
This is a seemingly humble outlook, not as bold and self-assured as the modern project to control nature and perfect humanity. But it can be liberating, allowing us to see the world, both human and natural (as if there were actually a difference) in all its multiplicity and diversity.
This week on Sea Change Radio, we feature Lauren Markham who has chronicled the new generation of hipster farmers, or “farmsters, and Sharman Apt Russell on citizen science.
Aniol Esteban is head of Environmental Economics at the New Economics Foundation. I started by asking what, for him, is the link between nature and wellbeing?
It seems obvious: to be fully alive you have to interact directly, respectfully and in physical proximity with a variety of other fully living things as much as possible. There is no substitute.
If human history is a novel, then we’ve reached the climax, the final turning point in which the protagonists (us) either change or die.
The more I learn about it, the more Nature looks like a Rube Goldberg machine: energy and materials flow through convoluted paths to accomplish something seemingly simple.