The planet strikes back – jorden setter grenser

Michael T. Klare er forfatteren av Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet; et fundamentalt verk om energiens geopolitikk. Klare er blant annet professor i «Peace and World Security Studies» ved det amerikanskje Five Colleges og korrespondent i forsvars- og sikkerhetsspørmål for The Nation (les mer om ham her). I artikkelen «The Planet Strikes Back» presenterer Klare et interessant historisk perspektiv på forholdet mellom Jorden og mennesket, og hvordan førstnevnte system vet å forsvare seg mot teknisk-vitenskapelig hybris:

«Many plant and animal species that are key to human livelihoods, including various species of trees, food crops and fish, will prove incapable of adjusting to these climate changes and so cease to exist. Humans may – and again I emphasize that may – prove more successful at adapting to the crisis of global warming than such species, but in the process, multitudes are likely to die of starvation, disease, and attendant warfare.»

«It’s not enough to think of Eaarth [forfatterens benevnelse] as an impotent casualty of humanity’s predations. It is also a complex organic system with many potent defenses against alien intervention – defenses it is already wielding to devastating effect when it comes to human societies. And keep this in mind: we are only at the beginning of this process.

Faced with recurring threats of earthquakes and volcanoes, many ancient religions personified the forces of nature as gods and goddesses and called for elaborate human rituals and sacrificial offerings to appease these powerful deities. The ancient Greek sea-god Poseidon (Neptune to the Romans), also called ‘Earth-Shaker’, was thought to cause earthquakes when provoked or angry.

In more recent times, thinkers have tended to scoff at such primitive notions and the gestures that went with them, suggesting instead that science and technology – the fruits of civilization – offer more than enough help to allow us to triumph over the Earth’s destructive forces. This shift in consciousness has been impressively documented in Clive Ponting’s 2007 volume, A New Green History of the World.

Quoting from influential thinkers of the post-Medieval world, he shows how Europeans acquired a powerful conviction that humanity should and would rule nature, not the other way around. The 17th century French mathematician Rene Descartes, for example, wrote of employing science and human knowledge so that ‘we can … render ourselves the masters and possessors of nature’.  It’s possible that this growing sense of human control over nature was enhanced by a period of a few hundred years in which there may have been less than the usual number of civilization-threatening natural disturbances. Over those centuries, modern Europe and North America, the two centers of the Industrial Revolution, experienced nothing like the Thera eruption of the Minoan era – or, for that matter, anything akin to the double whammy of the 9.0 earthquake and 50-foot-high tsunami that struck Japan on March 11.This relative immunity from such perils was the context within which we created a highly complex, technologically sophisticated civilization that largely takes for granted human supremacy over nature on a seemingly quiescent planet.

But is this assessment accurate?»

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