Here's what the piece was about, according to the show's website:
"Ira talks with author Alan Weisman about what the world might be like if humans were suddenly to disappear from the planet. Would a human-free Earth be more environmentally friendly? Would a sudden removal of humans disrupt the planet's ecosystems still more? In his book The World Without Us (St. Martin's Press, 2007), Weisman says that in as little as two days without human intervention, the New York City subway system would be flooded -- and in as little as a year after a mass human disappearance, every nuclear power plant on Earth would have run out of coolant and failed or melted down. How long would it take the planet to heal itself after humans left?"
Now, this sounds mostly reasonable; certainly the bare question of "what happens to the Earth without us" is interesting and the answers seem to be interesting as well. What I don't totally don't understand are the judgments about how the planet would be "better off" without humans, or how the planet would "heal itself", implying we make it sick, or what "more environmentally friendly" from the above blurb can possibly mean.
I've actually wondered about this for decades, since I was in elementary school and there was a "Save the Earth" campaign. Now, I TOTALLY understand that people have a particular impact on the Earth and that we are and have been changing its temperature, rainfall, climate patterns, etc. I am not at all skeptical about global warming; I understand about the hole in the ozone layer; I understand about depleting resources and introducing all kinds of specific chemicals into the environment and cutting down trees and all of these things. ANNNNNNNNND I understand that what we are doing and have done is making the Earth less habitable for humans. WTF does that have to do with the absolute "health" of the planet?? It's clear that there's a particular balance of chemicals and water and temperatures that need to be present to make a planet hospitable to human beings and other life forms that we know and love, but who says that that balance is "good" for the planet? IT'S GOOD FOR US. THAT'S IT. Isn't it? What am I missing?
If "Save the Earth" is shorthand for "Save the Earth in its current state because we need it that way to live comfortably on it" then I accept that and have no beef. But. BUT! But what about this "would the planet heal itself", thing? There are other planets out there. They don't have the same climates as our planet. They're still *fine*, as far as they're concerned, aren't they? They're not inherently unstable or about to break apart or somehow "sick", are they? They just don't support human life. Let's say that if we were to continue polluting/depleting/etc exactly as we are now, in some number of years Earth will get hot and there won't be any water, and living things won't be supported, and let's say Earth becomes exactly like Mars. I know that's bad for US, but how is it bad for EARTH? WTF does Earth care?
"Would a human-free Earth be more environmentally friendly?"
ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY TO WHOM?? If the message is something along the lines of "without humans, it would take x years to return to a state of perfectness for supporting humans", who gives a shit, on account of that whole WITHOUT HUMANS part?
|(But damn, I also learned from this show that the wild form of the regular old carrots we know and love is Queen Anne's Lace, a beautiful flower that I remember growing near my Grandmother's house in Queens. Carrots! Who knew?)|