The wintergreen, the juniper, the cornflower and the chicory
The elm, the ash and the linden tree, the dark and deep, enchanted sea
The trembling moon and the stars unfurled
Well there she goes, my beautiful world
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
I don’t know what Nick had in mind with this song, but it resonates with me. Reading the 6th Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert reminded me how little diversity we have at our longitude, despite the apparent wilderness. Then again, how many guests from the city are amazed to see a moose or the tracks of an elk herd or a golden eagle circling in the sky. It’s a precious world we live in, a narrow range of altitude and temperatures that allows us to live comfortably. We live in the midst of a mass extinction, species are disappearing for good every day, some before mankind even got a chance to see them, some we loose by our thirst for land and sea, by our need for resources and our lack of compassion and responsibility. Mass extinctions have happened before, naturally, without us. To put it into perspective: Until 300 years ago, the concept of mass extinction was unknown. Nobody knew that individual species, sometimes millions of individuals would disappear from earth because they could not adapt to changes in their habitat. Nobody knew that 30-80% of all species have disappeared several times in the existence of this planet. Until today, I believe, the general public is not aware of these “catastrophic” events.
If nature can cause mass extinction, why would we care about conservation and diversity? Why do we have national parks and wilderness areas? Why should we care about clean air and water?
Some of us certainly enjoy seeing wildlife in its natural habitat, some of us never get the chance to see a wolverine in the wild, or witness the amazing beauty of a corral reef… Some of us may not even care.
Which poses the question: What do we do as individuals and as a society with this world? Is it ok to simply care about the well-being of our generation? Or should we attempt to conserve what we have for future generations? Simple questions with profound answers. What do you think?
Maybe Nick was in a somber mood, when he wrote his song, or he was a realist, a visionary, anticipating the power of nature and mankind.