Heavy reading

Posted by Ken Campbell January 19, 2012 0 Comment 1064 views

I was thumbing through the latest issue of Orion magazine, when I came across an article by Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist. It is an excellent piece and I’m not going to try to condense the whole thing here – you should probably go read it for yourself. The synopsis would be something like, in our current obsession with reducing carbon output, with the concept of sustainability, we have lost sight of what we are trying to save. Maybe even lost all chance to save it.
In other words, the present state of what passes for environmental awareness – wind farms, solar arrays, tidal turbines, etc. – revolves around keeping our creature comforts, our way of life, just without the carbon. “It is the latest phase of our careless, self-absorbed, ambition-addled destruction of the wild, the unpolluted and the non-human. It is the mass destruction of the world’s remaining wild places in order to feed the human economy. And without any sense of irony, people are calling this ‘environmentalism.'”
It’s heavy stuff, for the most part, but it rings true. Uncomfortably true. I’m not sure what to do about it personally… and therein lies the real problem. Mr. Kingsnorth doesn’t either. He finishes the article by saying, “I withdraw from the campaigning and the marching, I withdraw from the talked-up necessity and all of the false assumptions… I have been busy fragmenting the world in order to save it; busy believing it is mine to save… I will follow the songlines and see what they sing to me and maybe, one day, I might even come back. And if I am very lucky I might bring with me a harvest of fresh tales, which I can scatter like apple seeds across this tired and angry land.”
It’s an eloquent and provocative piece and this little sampling doesn’t do it justice. It raises more questions than answers, which can be frustrating to some minds. But the only way that answers can arrive is for the questions to be asked.

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