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impossible to change

weilla yuan's picture


From Elizabeth Kolbert’s book The Sixth Extinction, she proposed that we have already entered the era of Anthropocene, which refers to an epoch that when human activities had a big influence on the nature and ecosystem. At the same time when humans are keeping “exploring” the world and killing other species, they try to change the situation, too. Humans have noticed how bad the situation is now in the ecosystem: species are keeping extinct, the environment pollution are getting severe, the habitats are dying out. So, humans begin to have moves. On page 263, it says “people have to have hope. It’s what keep us going.” On page 268, it says that “As long as we keep exploring, humanity is going to survive.” However, they did not realized that this is humans are being selfish and arrogant. What happened to the world has already happened, and humans are the ones who made the mess, and it is impossible to change now, this is how it’s going to end. From the very beginning where humans invented hunting tools, the balance of the world is going to break.


(However, this is the result of evolution, humans cannot help with it either…? On the other hand, as the book indicated, this development of human activity has been escaped from the evolution process already, then what is it? We need more information to solve the puzzle that we made.)


The previous reading connections:


  1. 1.    Humans’ are over-thinking and arrogant. They try to find excuses for the mess they made, and keep making mess at the same time.

“Ravens at play”:

Debbie sounds like she really feel for the coyotes, but does she really understand them? “Coyotes must surely know that some humans are killers, just as they must know that most humans don’t kill coyotes.” But do they really know? Also, she says “the urge to feed him (the coyote) is overwhelming.” Does not she know that the reason the coyotes are starving is the humans destroyed their habitat? And the way she kept feeding them, is exactly the way to make it worse---to kill them. If the coyotes get used to be fed, they will lose the ability to hunt, and without food, they will die out.

  1. 2.    What happened had already happened, there is no use to “save the world”, or we cannot save it anymore.

All over creation:

Frank and the activism described in this book actually have shown how selfish and ignorant humans are. The only concern for them is for the humanity to go on. In order to do that, humans will destroy more of the earth. They did not realize the Earth has already been destroyed, and there is no use for them to “try to save the world”, because what’s done had already been done.


Anne Dalke's picture

like everyone else, you’re looking for a thesis this week; what you’re working w/ now (the lines you’ve bolded) seems to be more of a prophecy, a declaration of disaster. I’m wondering if either of this week’s texts--Van Jones’s activism, or Paulo Friere’s concept of “reading the world”--might give you a more concrete, grounded way to go here?

I actually think that the real “opening” in this draft lies in the line “we need more information to solve the puzzle we have made.” Talk some more about this: what exactly is the puzzle? (Has Kolbert already solved the one she posed—by saying that we are restless curious creatures, with the capacity to imagine an alternative world…and so also to destroy the one we have?) What additional information could be helpful, in the situation we have created? Are you thinking engineering solutions to environmental troubles? Or something more philosophical, or biological or….? What does Kolbert’s book make you want to understand more fully?