It seems logical that reversing the vast environmental damage caused by the Great Acceleration will require an equally as forceful Great Deceleration. Yet at exactly the time when humans need to do less via dramatic contraction, both economic and biological, we prefer to sustain the delusion that we can fix the broken world with yet another spasm of frantic human activity.
This week, we relay brief excerpts from a December 2018 article by Eileen Crist that provides a concise delineation of the human supremacist self-understanding we must overcome if we are to avert the worst consequences of the deepening ecological emergency.
Images are from recent mass civil disobedience protests against the perpetuation of lignite coal mining in Germany.
As the earth’s biosphere continues to be sacrificed to the short-term requirements of human economies, we turn to an essay written jointly by Eileen Crist and Tom Butler in 2014, marking the centennial of John Muir’s death.
First published in Resilience, the last paragraphs of the essay are excerpted below, with images from Mark Adlington’s Painting the Ice Bear project.
Note to those who place their faith in de-extinction and other arrogant expressions of hubris: technology will not save us! We are “inverted utopians”, unable to imagine the implications of our inventions and interventions.
We are indebted to a faithful DP correspondent for steering us to an excellent 2014 lecture presented by Eileen Crist, in which she articulates a concise overview of what she calls the Human Supremacy Complex, or toxic anthropocentrism.
Professor Crist begins with a reference to an October, 2013 article published in The Economist reporting on a clot of jellyfish inside cooling pipes at a Swedish nuclear reactor, a report that swiftly mutates into an infomercial for a new technology named with the perverse acronym JEROS: Jellyfish Elimination Robotic Swarm. According to its creator, JEROS will chew through even the most exhuberant clot of jellies, and thus keep our nuclear reactors humming.
The entire lecture is linked below, followed by a montage of her slides that convey a useful summary of core questions and arguments. The final image is taken from The Herd, an installation project by Tasha Lewis, whose studio we shall revisit in future posts.
If we refuse to learn how to live responsibly within this “community of unique and exquisite beings”, clinging to the delusion that no matter what ruinous consequence we inflict upon the natural world, our clever technologies will always save us: we shall be obliterated.
Though JEROS robochops jellyfish into mush, it will take more than robot swarms to chew through the lethal clot of our own hubris and arrogance, such that we might embrace the “abundant and ravishing” planet, “inhabited with respect.”
Now comes Eileen Crist, with excerpts from her brilliant essay, I Walk in the World to Love It; images are from the Aviary of Sara Angelucci.
The quotation from Mary Oliver descends from her essay, Waste Land: An Elegy. Here are the lines that follow: