The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse: My Take
This is one of those books where I have trouble finding maybe one or two points that I agree with. Most people would then ask why I would read it or even keep it around, and my response to that would be the fact that we can never have enough different perspectives on our world. Pascal Bruckner has a very arrogant and judgmental style of writing that is similar to Edward Abbey’s in the sense that it almost automatically offends a large group of people and serves as a shocking attention grab that is directed at shedding light on issues that the author is perhaps paranoid or gravely concerned with. Bruckner is a philosopher at heart, and so the points that he argues don’t have a foundation supported by many hard facts. He writes about how the world should be (in his own eyes)Here’s what I agree with:
- Our planet is is a dangerous spot as far as the environment goes, and humanity has indeed caused most of the damage.
- Wealthy business owners and politicians alike have historically allowed this damage to begin and continue, and as a means to save their own skin, they use the threat of the apocalypse to control the thinking of the general population and distract the masses from any crimes they may have committed.
- “The environment is the new secular religion that is rising, in Europe at least, from the ruins of a disbelieving world. We have to subject it to critical evaluation in turn and unmask the infantile disease that is eroding and discrediting it: catastrophism.”
I interpreted this quote in my mind as Bruckner saying that religion and superstition dominated the developing world until recently. People were dominated by these beliefs until periods of time such as the Renaissance where science was able to flourish, untouched by the church which would often dismiss science as blasphemy and such. Now that we have an abundance of data supporting these environmental issues, the popular press and government has hijacked the cause to fix these problems and used it as a way to push their own agenda by, again, controlling the way the public thinks. This would inevitably lead to an apocalyptic event caused by people simply ignoring these issues.
Perhaps my favorite part of the book is Bruckner’s drawn-out philosophical dialogue on the ideal state of humanity, or a state of nature as Rousseau first began calling it. It would be madness to say that humans have no place on this planet. Humans are animals just like bears are animals, this meaning that we were born of this world and survive using the same processes. This could be further argued when looking at the shared DNA between all living things on this planet. Moreover; we are all made up of the finite elements on the periodic table. The only thing that separates us is our intellectual capacity. At one point humans were believed to be living freely, without society or commodities, or most importantly fixed dwellings. There were no couples or any dependency and all resources were shared. At this point we cannot return to this state even if we wanted to due to some small evolutionary adaptations humans have made in order to live in our constructed society. Bruckner draws comparisons between this state of nature and the way Native Americans and other indigenous cultures live. The Kayapo native group of Brazil is brought up a lot in this book which is why I have written about this in detail. He would want us to either return to this harmless state or die, but thinks that the way native tribes live is okay, even though there is still harm being done, just not on a large enough scale to be noticed (the 1 species goes extinct per 1 square mile of rain forest argument)
Overall, there is a lot of healing for the Earth to do, but are we really going to see a mass extinction event within the next 100 years? Probably not, so then why do the masses popularize this idea? Is it an unconscious cry to turn attention to these issues? It doesn’t seem to be a problem of fixing what is wrong, but actually wanting more things to break. Science and philosophy seems to clash when looking at the overall ideas presented in the book and it will take both of these fields working together to find an answer suitable enough for the world.
Environment in The News:
Three new species of fish, now known as Snailfish have been discovered in the extreme depths of the Atacama Trench. Currently named the Pink the Blue and the Purple Atacama Snailfish. There’s a lot of weird stuff going on under the sea.