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The Preachy Blog

Lamenting about us "managing"

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5/18/2012 -- Lamenting about us "managing"

When I was hiking about three years ago on Isle Royale, I was honestly surprised to read on a sign on top of "Mt. Ojibway", that we are - seriously - "managing air". Until then I was under the impression there are some things, which still elude our human hubris and urge to "manage", one of them being the tacitly accepted air pollution our lifestyle brings with it.

"Forest management" (converting real forests into unified rows of prospective lumber, via conversion into clearcuts and money), "Water management" (providing somewhat drinkable water out of an environment where not a single stream is free of contaminants any more), and now "Air management" (whatever that may be; the sign just vaguely stated that "[b]y monitoring air here we are helping to protect clear air everywhere").

But I was even wrong believing "Air Managers" is all we are setting ourselves up as. I hear we are now literally reaching for the stars with "solar radiation management". Geez!

By now we should clearly see we have been everything else but decent "managers" of our environment. Forests disappearing, rivers contaminated, oceans emptied (and "dead zones" declared), air polluted, land denuded of soil - and we still aim for more: "managing solar radiation".

Much of this is about our urge to be in control. This civilization wants to dominate, wants to so desperately be special among all other life on this planet, that we misinterpret our technological abilities as the proof to be above it all, and take this as justification to wreak havoc around us. The sixth mass extinction of life on this planet? Never mind, we'll manage.
How would we determine whether we are really still in control, or are merely tinkering with unintended effects of previous (then mis-)management, at an ever-increasing scale? Claiming to be "sapiens" we should be wise enough to realize such a situation, instead of killing off our host like a parasite. "Any decent definition of wisdom would include the recognition of the limits of cleverness" I recently read. So true - and I don't see we acknowledge that our wisdom is apparently far too limited to deal with the complexity of life. To me it looks as if we are increasingly reacting instead of acting (with foresight), which does not fit into my definition of wise management.

In other words: is the hubris, believing we are able to manage everything, manageable?

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