Stay Home

I’m puzzled by people who travel to the few remaining parts of our world that are untouched by people, write about how beautiful they are, and encourage us to do what we can to save them in their natural state. The way to save untouched nature is to not go there at all (we could permit small controlled exceptions for scientific study). A better way to preserve nature would be to write about the beauty of our cities. Leave the non-human world to itself.

In fact, the best way to live easy on the earth would be to take residence in a box outside Shinjuku station. In a city of 13 million, one more will have no detectable environmental impact.. Don’t try to practice renewable living in a forest glade. Go where there are lots and lots of people already, and stay there.

3 Comments »

  1. fche said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 7:52 am

    “The way to save untouched nature is to not go there at all (we could permit small controlled exceptions for scientific study). ”

    Surely a few amateur well-behaved photographers need inflict no greater damage to those parts than a scientific expedition would. It’s more like “it’s lovely here; we took these pictures for you so you don’t have to come and see for yourself.”

    “In fact, the best way to live easy on the earth would be to take residence in a box outside Shinjuku station.”

    Luckily only an absurd few consider themselves of such blight on the planet that they would reduce their own standard of living to that of a destitute hobo. (Many more would advise *others* to try though.)

  2. Simetrical said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 12:03 pm

    People who travel to these locations are motivated by the personal aesthetic appeal of unsullied nature, not an ideological commitment to save it. They’re probably interested in saving it too, but not enough to outweigh their desire to experience it. It’s perfectly consistent.

    From one point of view, the main reason to save these locations is *because* tourists enjoy them, not because they have intrinsic value. From this follows “If you’ve seen one tree, you’ve seen them all”: we only need to bother preserving however much is actually needed to accommodate tourists, if that’s our primary concern. For instance, prohibiting oil drilling in the entire 20 million acres of ANWR is irrational if only tourist value concerns you, because there aren’t likely to be nearly enough tourists to justify that much land.

    Of course, plenty of people do actually assign some intrinsic value to places that people haven’t touched much. But different people assign different amounts of value, ranging from zero to quite a lot, and this adequately explains all opinions I’ve seen on the subject.

  3. adg said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

    Your proposal, seemingly tongue-in-cheek, is consistent for an individual.

    Humans are a rapidly growing species. Even if we tried to confine ourselves to our established cities, the needs of a growing population are substantial. The biggest threats to the few remaining parcels of ‘nature’ are farms, dams, infrastructure projects, and the like. A bit of tourism is nothing by comparison.

    If you’re not aware of what’s out there you won’t care when it’s gone, which is what has made it so easy for us to destroy such vast tracts of natural landscape in the name of progress.

    My personal interest in travelling to remote areas has been to enjoy the flora and (particularly) the fauna in their natural settings. It’s possible to do this without disturbing them much (if at all), and I don’t think it really puts me at odds with my views on conservation. Just because my desires are partially selfish doesn’t make them any less reasonable.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

You must be logged in to post a comment.