Nature: Part Deux

Coates becomes very critical of “green ideas” in the second half of the book, critiquing Asians cultures, Native American beliefs and Westerners altogether.

-“Generic Orientalism based on the ostensibly more humble position allocated to people within the larger biological community.”(97)

In the sixth chapter, I found the quote “the English vision of nature as ‘natural’ garden was so powerful that it seduced potentially hostile Americans.” (122) The sense of ecological romanticism is used in this sense to draw settlers in, because nature was seen as a pure spiritual source of renewal. The emotionally deterring yet fiscally appealing factor of today’s immigrants that Coates touches on is our growing industrial centers.

“…William Shenstone’s belief (1764) that ‘whatever thwarts nature is treason.'”(122)

Interesting idea, it almost seems as though Shenstone was an early environmentalist, however, he was actually an avid landscape gardener. Is landscape gardening considered nature or a natural state? Is Shenstone being hypocritical?

“Nature, nonetheless, has meant far more over the last two-and-a-half centuries than daffodils, waterfalls, food chains and energy flows.”(126) This makes me ask: what is the true basis of nature? Another question would be that if nature had to be overanalyzed and broken down into its most basic forms, what would that aspect be?

I was doubtful about his claim that capitalism is worse than socialism in terms of ecological advances, stating “Bar the profit motive, every feature of capitalist agriculture has characterized agriculture in the former Soviet Union and eastern European bloc.” (151)

My issue with this is that Coates fights that each region’s values and practices are divergent— then what is the point of analyzing and critically comparing different world views- such as Buddhist and Christian?

In chapter 8, I found it particularly disturbing as Coates puts human exceptionalism’s view that people are just animals to Hitler’s opinion that Jews were pests. Coates declares “The eco-socialist dystopia is a police state run by a green Hitler that mobilizes a vast network of informers to stamp out ecological incorrectness.”(172)

He is constantly making many animal welfare advocates and environmentalists seem like the devil, which gives Coates his own demonic, hateful sense. Coates uses this harsh worded comparison to grasp our attention, and then on page 172 just a paragraph later, says “Catchy and off-handed polemics definitely make for tempting and shocking copy.” Hypocritical much?

The most important and memorable excerpt from part two of this book was Mcibben’s thesis in The End of Nature, “We have so thoroughly domesticated the earth and modified natural processes that it is no longer possible to speak of nature as something with a separate existence.” (176)

Is it true that the world is not entirely of our own making?  Does nature just exist in a new state?

Deeper question: We aren’t cavemen anymore we are descendants. Is the current earth just a descendant of a previous time?


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