A few months before I left the University of Missouri, Emma Marris visited and gave a lecture based on her new book, “Rambunctious Garden.” She and the book received quite a bit of press – Allison and I heard it reviewed on NPR as we drove to Colorado to celebrate the death of our graduate school experience. I found Emma to be a bright and personable speaker, but her message broke my heart. It seemed she was asking ecologists and conservation biologists to embrace the homogenization of nature, to drop our discriminatory attitude towards weedy species, to trust in nature’s capacity to heal herself. This last part, at least, she was right about, but not on a time-span that will benefit my nieces or their children. She seemed a victim of generational information loss – not capable of seeing what the planet looked like a few hundred years ago and unwilling or unable to visualize what this continued rate of change will bring in the next 200 years.
This morning I ran into this longish essay that starts off a bit unsettling (see: sympathy with the Unabomber) but that I recommend to anyone interested in ecology and/or the future of this planet. We are indeed in the midst of a series of progress traps: