The Future of Nature

                                              Being implies obligation.                                                                      Hans Jonas The most incomprehensible moral idiocy of our time is indifference to the fate of the planet. I say this humbly, because I have not really said it until just now: I am late to the truth. Not that I ever denied it, of course; deferring to science on matters about which only science has authority is a quintessential act of reason and even of love, if love includes the desire to protect and protract the life of who and what is loved. The problem with environmental concern has been precisely that its grounds are so obvious — it has become a part of the standard equipment of an enlightened individual, an ambient truth dulled by its own ambience. It has produced, since the nineteenth century, a beautiful literature, whose beauty seems almost a promise of its futility: to read Muir or Leopold or Carson is to be enchanted when one should be agitated. What does “nature writing” have to do with nature policy? In politics, certainly, the cause of the environment, when it is not outrightly rejected by liars and profiteers, occasions more lip service than any other cause. The apocalypse has become a platitude, as it often does. For many years the temporal distance of the doom blunted the fear of it; time, in a rare role for it, seemed like our friend. And so, like many people, I prevaricated, I cared, but not the most. The

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