remember, tuesday is soylent green day
When's someone going to review my allegorical novel about Soylent Green? I call it, "It's Made of People!"
A few weeks ago I read what I believe is the most important environmental book ever written. It is not Silent Spring, Small is Beautiful or even Walden. It contains no graphs, no tables, no facts, figures, warnings, predictions or even arguments. Nor does it carry a single dreary sentence, which, sadly, distinguishes it from most environmental literature. It is a novel, first published a year ago, and it will change the way you see the world.
Cormac McCarthy’s book The Road considers what would happen if the world lost its biosphere, and the only living creatures were humans, hunting for food among the dead wood and soot. Some years before the action begins, the protagonist hears the last birds passing over, “their half-muted crankings miles above where they circled the earth as senselessly as insects trooping the rim of a bowl.” McCarthy makes no claim that this is likely to occur, but merely speculates about the consequences.
All pre-existing social codes soon collapse and are replaced with organised butchery, then chaotic, blundering horror. What else are the survivors to do?: the only remaining resource is human. It is hard to see how this could happen during humanity’s time on earth, even by means of the nuclear winter McCarthy proposes. But his thought experiment exposes the one terrible fact to which our technological hubris blinds us: our dependence on biological production remains absolute. Civilisation is just a russeting on the skin of the biosphere, never immune from being rubbed against the sleeve of environmental change. Six weeks after finishing The Road, I remain haunted by it.
I have muy much respect for Monbiot, but I'm not sure how I feel about this piece.
I think a lot of us enviros secretly wish for our own little secular apocalypse, that it's easier to indulge our shadow Earth Liberation Front monkeywrencher than to keep working at hope. The problem with breaking the panic button is that one of the worst possible post-global-warming world scenarios is one that would be boring, that the world we had and the kindness we had for it would curl up and die: you know, a city your-parents-went-to-once collapses here, some foreigners-you-don't-know starve, some animal-species-you've-never-seen dies off, and hey-they-should've-listened-but-things'll-be-better-when-Chelsea-Clinton-gets-elected.