Sitting with “The Sixth Extinction”

Here’s another sensitive, yet difficult post from Becca Psyche Tarnas. I’ve not read The Sixth Extinction, but I feel those tugs of hypocrisy daily — as I type on my laptop trying to raise awareness about our connection to our gorgeous planet, as I read late night permaculture books by electric light, as I attempt to find balance between overgrown weeds and growing my own food. Thank you to Elizabeth Kolbert and to Becca for pulling such musings into the light of day, where they do belong, so that we can find ways to ameliorate our role.

Becca Segall Tarnas

“If you want to think about why humans are so dangerous to other species, you can picture a poacher in Africa carrying an AK-47 or a logger in the Amazon gripping an ax, or, better still, you can picture yourself, holding a book in your lap.”[1] In this one sentence, in the final chapter of her book, Elizabeth Kolbert implicates you, the reader, as the cause of the sixth mass extinction of species on this planet. When reading of the human impact upon Earth, upon the other species with whom we share—or do not know how to share—this planet, it can become so easy to want to seek the source of blame outside oneself, to charge other humans with responsibility for the ecological crisis. But we have been “othering” for far too long, and it is time to take that responsibility within ourselves. So I am sitting here with…

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by CindyW. on February 10, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    I am reading a book by David Abram (Becoming Animal – h/t to Cate Kerr for referring) that offers the idea that because we have become severed from our animal connection to the planet (our sensuous experience of it), that is why we don’t connect with urgency about the losses. We are so accustomed to thinking of ourselves as dominant species, and everything else as “wallpaper” or backdrop. He doesn’t blame a religion or group, but writes that it is how we have become “scientific” about everything instead of experiencing the mystery and ourselves as within the world.

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  2. Sounds like a similar message I have been getting. When we denigrate the body and “animal” instincts, we become other from everything and everyone else on our planet, to our own peril. Thanks for your comment and the other book title!

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  3. […] Amazon gripping an ax, or, better still, you can picture yourself, holding a book in your lap.”[1] In this one sentence, in the final chapter of her book, Elizabeth Kolbert implicates you, the […]

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