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A Library Without Us

August 9th, 2009 - written by Brian Utley

Oh boy. I’ve totally blown it. That’s pretty much what I think while I’m reading The World Without Us. Whether it be the car I drive, or how I handle refuse, or what I’m NOT doing about all that plastic in the ocean, I feel like I’m not too friendly with Mother Earth. But at the same time, she’s probably laughing a little at those who haven’t realize it’s too late, “oh, the naiveté”, she says. Homo sapiens were destined for extinction from the beginning. I’ve always thought so, but only in the biblical-armaggedon sense. Now I feel the same way, but for more practical “real-world” reasons, as in, The Earth Will Always Win. There will always be freeze-thaw, there will always be a warming and an icing over, and starting over again, as countless civilizations before us have experienced. Think of it in millions of years, which is difficult, almost impossible actually, but it makes it easier to grasp. We are done for. This isn’t fatalism. It’s evolution.

So why am I all the sudden very conscious of my carbon footprint? I know eventually I’ll be in the ground, an ice age will begin, and my remains will be pulverized over hundreds of thousands of years into bonemeal to be used for whatever bonemeal is used for. Most likely as unnoticed fertilizer for our descendant’s cornfield a million years from now. Like most things in nature, the earth and myself including, there is a constant breaking down and renewal. Not that I have any choice, but that’s fine by me and not in the least bit depressing. As corn or whatever grows through my fine-powdered remains, will the farmers, or the food be any different because I put pizza crusts in one trash bin and cardboard in another a million years earlier?

I have no idea what the (very) long implications of sorting out recycling are. What I do know, is that I see the impact it has now, in my time. And I’ve been impressed to do something about it, whether I ever see the return or not. EVEN if it makes a difference or not.

It’s much like the time when I realized that although my one small presidential vote is largely mathematically insignificant, not voting is wasting the lives that provided the opportunity to do so, and honoring sacrifices is reason enough to do something that sometimes feels pointless.

Ok, so I lost myself a little and somewhere there is a tie-in to recycling, I promise. Bottom-line is that although it may appear insignificant when people think about it a million years from now, deep down I feel like it’s my duty to ignore that and do what’s best for the earth, right now.

So, then, what can I do? Well I started using a Kindle again. I won’t go into whether this is environmentally better or not simply because I don’t know. Paper comes from trees, thus the more books, the more forests get hewn down. But then, paper is biodegradable and plastic is not. In a thousand years my books will be indistinguishable from soil, and my plastic Kindle will still be sitting there. I could go on and on, which I may, at a future date.

My problem is now all these books that I’ve accumulated over the years. They just sit there. Nobody reads them but me, and 95% of the books that make up my library never get read again. They collect dust while they wait for their journey to the landfill. A landfill will eventually be their home regardless of pretty much anything I do, but what can I do with them in the meantime?

Note To Self: Must think about this.

Book #33 tomorrow, week #33 started today. Not too shabby.

A Library Without Us

Alan Weisman, Book Thoughts, The World WIthout Us ,

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