More from John Hay – In Defense of Nature – 1969

“Extra-human, extra-natural terms divide us from compassion. We have a death-dealing capacity that is without parallel; and, having to a large extent disorganized the gradual, assimilated experience which bound man to place, we have thrown events not only into the hands of unpredictable change but into the unknown capacity of mankind to keep control without appalling tyranny. We are governed by our obsession with means. We have been treating the earth with a recklessness which is no tribute to human genius. The almost total poisoning of the natural environment is only being postponed by fragmentary efforts.

The great danger in a revolutionary world that takes us with it in spreading mobility, forced communication and unprecedented speed, uncertain of the outcome, is that we will take our own risks and live out our own violence as we can. In other words, we may risk the habitable earth for the sake of mere impetus. Perhaps the awareness of disaster will prevent us from bringing on our artificial ice age which could postpone spring for ten thousand years. Perhaps we can, by conscious, continual effort, keep turning the bow aside to save the ship. We will have to try, in this one world. We have come now to the point where we meet the living earth either in terms of fundamental conflict or fundamental cooperation. All our pillaging and presumption have brought us face to face with ultimate limits. We have pushed ourselves and the rest of life on earth to a point where one step more could mean survival or extinction.”

Leave a Reply