Nature will be last to weigh in

Regarding Kevin Rafferty’s May 21 article, “Weep for poor Earth itself”: Why weep for poor Earth? It’s a planet with a 4-billion-year history despite what evangelical rightwing Christians would have us believe. Earth has weathered far worse than anything a naked, bipedal primate, known as homo sapiens, can throw at it.

Through our hyper-industrialized folly, we might be the very engine of our own extinction, but Earth itself will endure, thank you very much. How egocentric to think that the fate of the planet rests in the hands of its current seemingly self-destructive tenants.

It isn’t “our” planet any more than the moon is ours, or the sun. How absurd. Countless species have gone extinct in the past billion years. What makes humans think they are somehow special?

The laws of nature are stern but fair — Karmic really. In 1960, Rachel Carson tried to warn us about ecological collapse. She is largely forgotten now.

Twenty years ago the Nobel Prize-winning environmentalist and politician Al Gore wrote a wakeup call in the form of a book he called “Earth in the Balance.” He would agree that things are continuing to grow precariously unbalanced and that global environmental/ecological collapse is a real possibility. Pity that, over the past 40 years, environmentalists have failed to awaken any sense of urgency at the nation-state level.

The prevailing attitude among monarchs, presidents, prime ministers and dictators seems to have been one of apathy, or even hostility, toward doom-and-gloom scientists. Certainly the world’s most powerful corporations will always side with their buddies in places like 10 Downing Street or the White House.

As for the threat of overwhelming population growth, it’s already here. The resources needed to just feed the growing masses of humanity will exhaust the planet by 2100. Fresh, clean drinking water could become more expensive than oil in the coming decades. Wars will be fought over rapidly dwindling water supplies. Once the glaciers have all melted, dependable sources of drinking water will become a major crisis for billions of people.

It’s a terrible thing to contemplate, but Earth’s human population could suddenly plummet to only a billion or so by 2100. It’s almost a cliche now, but nature really will be the last up to bat. We have met the enemy and he is us.

As for international concern about ownership of the Ryukyu Islands — which Rafferty cites in his article — that will be of little consequence by 2075. The struggle just for daily survival will be the more pressing issue for those who have survived the environmental/ecological collapse.

robert mckinney
otaru, hokkaido

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.