The Late, Great Planet Earth


No, this is not about Hal Lindsey’s famous book. Rather, I had intended to write an article about anything other than energy/the environment However, two blog posts dragged me back in (screaming and kicking, you can be assured).

The posts describe the earth as dying, or in need of saving. I took issue with these posts, writing a comment, that in part said:

“[We can] neither save nor kill the earth (or the environment, for that matter).

“Mankind’s existence on this world is but an eye-blink, geologically speaking. No matter what we do to this earth, life will continue. We may destroy our own kind, and we may destroy other species. But, after we are gone, other species will evolve, and the earth will have forgotten about our brief presence. Hundreds of millions of years of life preceded us, and hundreds of millions of years of life will succeed us – regardless of what we do now.

“If we cannot destroy the earth, we cannot save it either. Therefore, what are we actually trying to save with environmentalism? ”

Making such broad claims of “saving the earth” smacks of smug, self-righteous, false-altruism. When someone says they want to “save the earth”, they imply that anyone who disagrees with them wants to destroy it. Such hyperbole is not helpful. A common consensus would be much easier to achieve when the real goals are spelled out. Otherwise, we may just as well be arguing over religion.

The author of the second blog I listed, responded with a well thought out response. In it, he stated a sentiment I can agree with; that the goals of environmentalism include the conservation of resources.

I would ask though: Conserve for whom? Ourselves. Future generations. Other species. After all, nature really doesn’t give a damn if we destroy an ecosystem; over time it will be replaced – but it’s impact on us humans can be devastating.

We should embrace environmentalism, not because the earth is in peril, but because it is the right thing to do – for ourselves.

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  1. The late George Carlin did a fantastic bit on the environment, basically saying what you’re saying, that the Earth ain’t going anywhere. As for the human race, that’s another story.

    See a nice transcript of his routine here.


  2. G8….They go on in strange paradox, deciding only to be undecided,
    resolved only to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity,
    all powerful to be impotent.

    Oh! By the way, for information, the planet earth is not in danger of extinction people, we are!

    Revelation 2012. (Cuger Brant).

  3. Thanks rutherfordl.

    I found this live presentation by Carlin of the transcript you pointed to. The live presentation is much funnier than just reading the words. Gotta’ love Carlin.


  4. “We may destroy our own kind, and we may destroy other species.”

    … call me crazy, but I’d rather put that off at least a couple of decades, if it isn’t too much trouble.

  5. we need to live in unity

  6. I’m all for unity, but that website’s main page is completely wrong in how it describes “global warming”.

    The site states:

    “global warming is the build up of carbon dioxide and other air pollutants that cause a thickening of the atmosphere. This traps the heat from the sun and makes the planet warm up.”

    This is incorrect in so many places; I’ll just point out some of them.

    1) Carbon Dioxide is not a pollutant. It is a natural (and necessary) gas in the atmosphere.
    2) The atmosphere does not “thicken”.
    3) Heat is not “trap[ped]”. Radiation of various wavelengths is absorbed or released into space.
    4) Carbon Dioxide itself contributes little to the so-called “green house affect”. It is water-vapor that causes the bulk of the warming (absorbed radiation), in the theoretical “positive feedback” mechanism.

    It is obvious that this description was written by someone completely ignorant of the science of global warming. PLEASE, if you are going to write a synopsis of something, at least do a little bit of homework.

  7. Like most other political catch phrases, “save the earth” is an attempt to distill the essence of environmentalism in a succinct, catchy way. Again, like most phrases, it distorts the real meaning. However I suspect that there is an unspoken assumption held by environmentalists that it is human life that is harming the planet and that with less of this the world would be a better place. I’m drawing a blank right now, but there are other phrases that operate in similar ways. Consider other phrases: “change we can believe in” or “building a bridge to the future” for example. They all imply certain things without actually saying them.

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