Hospice for planets

2011-12-19 (Monday) § Leave a comment

Reading arguments in The Vegetarian Myth and related conversations on the internet, I see a lot of talk about which diets and behaviors are “natural” for humans.  This makes me curious what those people mean by “nature”.  If nature excludes some human behaviors, then why not all of them?  Or if you think (and I do, along with lots of the people in these conversations) that humans are a result of evolution just like any other animal, then how can you define some of our behaviors as non-natural?  I have a suspicion that this dualism is a carryover from creation myths.

The same goes for possible planetary catastrophes.  Is there such a thing as “the way the earth is supposed to be”?  Who’s doing the supposing?  Maybe we will use up our energy sources and starve or bake to death, and maybe we’ll take most of the planet’s lifeforms with us.  If we are animals and products of evolution (and I think we are), then don’t we have to accept that if this happens, it’ll be no less natural a part of this planet’s biography than the origin of life itself?  Lierre Keith in The Vegetarian Myth talks about how death of organisms is a natural part of life and we should accept it and be part of it.  But then she says the planet is dying, as if that’s something we shouldn’t accept.  Yes, she means it’s dying because we’re killing it.  So?  Aren’t we part of nature?

I do emphatically want us to avoid catastrophic outcomes.  I’m not going to accept the death of the planet if I see ways I can lower the likelihood of it happening.  But that’s because I don’t care what’s natural.  I care about suffering.

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