In the age of coming climate apocalypse, the narcissistic self-regard of humans in their exploitive relationship with the natural world is so disgusting, so utterly reprehensible, so vain and vacuous and unworthy of intelligent beings that it makes me want to repudiate humanism altogether and call for humans to be wiped off the goddamn planet.
The film Planet of the Apes, issued in 1968, had it right when the apes quoted their sacred scrolls:
Beware the beast man, for he is the Devil’s pawn. Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother’s land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours.
There’s my rant, and enough of it. I’m part of this absurdist cavalcade aimed at climate doom, I’m the problem as much as anyone else, and I haven’t any high horse on which to climb to judge my fellow beasts.
What I know is this: Humankind as currently organized – organized for ever-more unnecessary consumption – will burn in the hell of a climate-warmed world and will indeed make a desert of the place we called home.
Good riddance? No way. I have two daughters, aged 7 and 24, to think about. Do we actually give a shit about these kids and their future? Of course not. There are profits to be made.
Which is to say: let’s stab a knife in the back of my daughters and watch them bleed out in the street years hence. Fuck the kids! Let them die so we can have more and more in our imperious carbon-intensive moment of profligacy.
Like I said, it’s so disgusting, so dispiriting, that it could turn you into an anti-humanist, someone who might wish the filthy species of entitled shitheads to wipe itself out.
But then again: my daughters. Humans, sweet and gentle and open and uncorrupted, not yet anyway, not if I can prevent it.
I want them to grow up in the world that I grew up in, a world of lovely natural rhythms, in which the biotic expressions of the complexity and richness of the other-than-human runs riot across the seasons. Here – look, kids! – is the newness and strangeness and bewilderment of the repeating cycles of nature. Here is the ground of our being. Without it, we are nothing. There is no humankind without nature.
And here, kids, is a smartphone which I smash with a hammer. My seven-year-old, Josie, who walks the woods of the Catskills with me, finds this destructive idea at least as entertaining as tree identification. (Note to parents: destroying phones with a hammer works – it is proven by physics.)
The point is this: whenever you feel the terrible weight of misanthropy – I feel it every time I wake up and look in the mirror – think of future generations, your love for them, your honoring of them, and try to militate against our economic system that condemns them to destruction.
I can think of one and only one political movement today that serves this purpose, and it is called Extinction Rebellion. Check it out. The idea behind Extinction Rebellion is that if we all get together and disobediently shut down the mad system, we might no longer have to feel ashamed at being the mere beast called man.