Wade Davis in Copenhagen: The Path We Have Taken is Not the Only One Available
In Partnership with Nissan’s A Journey to Zero Project:
This past year for the first time in human history we became a predominantly urban species. In the year 1820 only London had a population of more than a million. Today there are 414 cities of such size or larger, and within 35 years demographers predict there will be more than a thousand. Cloistered and insulated within urban space, in many cases living already in toxic conditions, city dwellers will not be the first to notice the consequences of global climate change.
Nearly fifteen years ago I sat on the shore of Baffin Island with an Inuk elder Ipeelie Koonoo and watched as he carefully cleaned the carburetor of his skidoo engine with the feather of an ivory gull. He spoke no English, and I did not know Inuptituk. But with Olayuk translating, Ipeelie told me then that the weather throughout the Arctic had become milder, the sun hotter each year, and that for the first time Inuit were suffering from skin ailments, as he put it, caused by the sky. This is a message from the front lines of the very issue that people have assembled here in Copenhagen to address. This is a message we ignore at our peril.
Voices such as this matter because they remind us of the gravity of the problem, and perhaps more importantly, that there are indeed alternatives. Ours is a particular attitude that seems to have reduced our planet to a commodity. The reduction of the world to a mechanism, with nature but an obstacle to overcome, has in good measure determined the manner in which our cultural tradition has blindly interacted with the living planet. The anthropological lens is valuable because it reveals that there are many other options, and any number of different ways of orientating ourselves in place and landscape.
This is not to suggest naively that we abandon everything and attempt to mimic the ways of nonindustrial societies, or that any culture be asked to forfeit its right to benefit from the genius of technology. It is rather to draw inspiration and comfort from the fact that the path we have taken is not the only one available, and that our destiny therefore is not indelibly written in a set of choices that demonstrably and scientifically have proven not to be fully wise. By their very existence the diverse cultures of the world bear witness to the folly of those who say that we cannot change.
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes
- 1 Brooklyn Man Now Living Entirely Off Own Beard Garden
- 2 First Openly Straight Figure Skater Comes Forward
- 3 “Cra Cra” Now Official Diagnosis in New DSM (DSM-5)
- 4 OfficeMax Marketing Director Struggling to Make Staplers ‘Sexy’ and ‘Conversational’
- 5 Area Man Tailors Life To Be More Relevant To His Hulu Advertisements
- 6 Fan Banging Furiously on Glass Could Be the Difference in Hockey Playoffs
- 7 Homeless Guy Woos Silicon Valley VCs with Low-Tech Crowdfunding Startup
- 8 Survey: 88% of Eagles Fans Too Drunk To Spell Nnamdi Asomugha Last Season
- 9 Attorney Actually Starting to Believe Own Bullshit
- 10 Local Mom Won’t Stop Being First Person to Like Every Goddamn Thing Son Posts to Facebook