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Reader Feedback: Letters to the editor
Tuesday, June 5

We, too, shall pass


Toronto -- Alanna Mitchell's excellent series on the ecological crisis facing humanity (Death Wish -- June 2-6) is just another of the many mileposts we have been passing reminding us of our place on the road to our extinction. But the news is not all bad. When humanity has extinguished itself, the planet will recover its health, as it has done after so many calamities before we arrived; perhaps the next primate variant will be advanced enough not to start the cycle all over again.

We should look on the crisis from a teleological point of view. The human race is programmed to end in extinction. There is no reason to think that we are any different than the millions of species that have come and gone on this planet over the eons. There is not the slightest chance that our destiny can be avoided. Can you imagine Harrison Ford, cited by Ms. Mitchell as an ecological knight errant, giving up his air conditioning, his daily shower, his SUV, his golf-club membership, his daily coffee?

Where is the Messiah who will convince humanity that it must change its ways or be doomed? We cannot even persuade everyone in the world to drive on the same side of the road, not even in the same country. Weekend mortality figures will attest to that. So let's get on with our life, while it lasts. Be glad that you are not the last human being on Earth scavenging for survival, like the innumerable species we have condemned to the same fate.

We, too, shall pass


Richmond Hill, Ont. -- The Globe and Mail is to be commended for having the courage and foresight to cast light on the grim, foreboding story of humanity destroying its own domain. I hope these articles land on the desk of every politician and business leader in Canada, to help them understand that to support or even tolerate ever-growing consumption is immoral. We need to transform free enterprise into environmentally sustainable enterprise, and we need to do it quickly.

Monday, June 4

The way the world will end


Oakville, Ont. -- Death Wish (Focus -- June 2) ends with a suggestion that humans are "acting the role of a suicidal horde, like the apocryphal march of the lemmings," but that there is hope for humanity because, unlike the lemmings, "we can change our behaviour."

The comparison to lemmings doesn't adequately represent the effect of human behaviour, since the lemmings' march over a cliff destroys only the lemmings, while humans are destroying the entire environment they inhabit. More realistically, humans are acting like cancer cells, which multiply uncontrollably, crowding out all other species of cell in their environment until the progressive destruction of those other cells results in the death of the parent body -- and the consequent demise of the cancer cells that caused it.

The statement that we humans can change our behaviour is overconfident. To change the behaviour of the whole species, in its swarming billions, as would be required to halt the destructive process already so far advanced, would, at best, take centuries. And it would require a degree of individual sacrifice that humans have shown themselves (and continue daily to show themselves) incapable of achieving.

Comments about the Death Wish series? Get in touch with Alanna Mitchell, join our discussion forum, or submit your own letter to the editor.

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