Thursday, October 24, 2013

Why guerrilla gardening won’t turn the world into “Blade Runner” hell by Nathanael Johnson

A recent New York Times op-ed painted urban gardeners as a selfish breed greening the world in the human interest. That's right -- and here's why it's a good thing.

......The question itself, however, is worthy of serious consideration: Should we be shaping the earth to our own selfish desires, or for the benefit of all living things?

There is a simple answer to this question, and if you’ll bear with me, I think I can stake out a perfect position to cut through the confusion, end the bickering, turn the environmental movement into a powerhouse for political change, and, ahem, save the world (or at least the version of the world that we love). Should take five minutes or so. Ready?

The answer is clear: We should selfishly applaud the gardeners. Ultimately, doing so will end up helping swallowtails, too.

What’s the case for selfishness? Well, we can’t escape it. Even when we think we are making purely altruistic choices, it’s actually human self-interest that’s guiding us. We protect rhinos because we humans would feel their loss (while the diatoms could care less). If we truly freed ourselves from our anthropocentrism we’d be campaigning to free smallpox, and crying over the extinction of a slime mold. George Carlin had it right: Instead of pretending to be saving the planet, we should embrace our self-interest. Environmentalism is really a movement to make the earth a better place for humans to thrive.......

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