Humanity began its conquest of nature with the invention of agriculture (ok probably earlier than that but agriculture being the cause of everything bad in the world is part of my whole shtick!). The predictable surpluses that farming produced meant that agricultural communities grew faster than their free counterparts. Being locked to the same piece of land meant the strong knew where to find the weak. Warlords naturally emerged. Agriculture and the state are deeply intertwined.
Continued yearly planting destroyed top soil which required farmers to move deeper in the wilderness to exploit uncultivated lands. To satisfy their desire for an every expanding host, leaders “encouraged” farmers to embark on these adventures. As more fields continued to be planted, grasslands were obliterated, forests were destroyed, marshes were drained, and rivers were polluted. Contrived, artificial monocultures replaced the nature, biodiverse ecosystems in place before. The strongest positive feedback loop in human social evolution ratcheted up and humans moved into ever weaker niches.
The life of a farmer is static. Farmers are sedentary and yoked to their fields for at least the timescale of a single harvest. Seasonal cycles and local climate control his precarious existence. Life is utterly predictable. Yearly cycles of planting and harvesting lasting into perpetuity, interspersed with the highs and lows of feast and famine. Diets are simple. Wheat and barley. Rice and millet. Maize and beans. Day after day and year after year. Tax season comes and goes, where the state takes a hefty cut of your meager yearly surplus with stunning regularity. Nature is something to be fought against with all available tools. The volatility of natural cycles is exchanged for the predictability of human controlled biomass cultivation.
The life of a hunter-gatherer is dynamic. They are ever on the move. One season he may be deep in the fens snatching waterfowl, collecting oysters, and netting shrimp. The next season he is in the forest, hunting deer, collecting berries, and digging for tubers. Authority is by merit and is widely distributed. Leaches such as would-be kings are despised and in many cases killed off. Nature is not something to fought. It is the very essence of life, and an order to be lived with and celebrated. There are still times of feast and famine alongside drought and plenty, similar to the life of a farmer, but with a more antifragile, diverse set of foods to choose from. Diversity of experience and consumption is the norm. Volatility is the name of the game.
To rewild the planet, man must be rewilded as well. Rewilding implies that nature can take care of herself and is a force to be lived alongside rather than controlled by humanity. Hierarchy of man over man is recapitulated in man’s domination of nature. Rulers and the strictures they impose on their subjects are clearly mirrored in the way that man as a whole imposes his will on nature. Nature is kept in its box, separate from the rest of the world that it should be situated in. Man is kept in his box, isolated from his brothers around the world by the force of the state. The systems of exploitation we take in place to harness the energy of the biosphere are analogous to the systems of oppression we use to control the energy of our fellow men.
Our industrial system perpetuates itself on the backs of broken people and a broken planet. The elite of society ensconces itself in a lifestyle of unbelievable abundance while the dispossessed are left with virtually nothing. Environmental degradation is exported from the regions of the world that have already industrialized to those that are still developing. This does not change the fundamental need of the “post-industrial” world for the materials produced by the “developing” world, it just means that the ugliness, scars, and destruction of natural lands is not happening where the rich live. Pollution for thee but not for me. Where is the justice?
A true reconciliation with nature is incompatible with our current socio-economic paradigm. The “green” transition is a myth. Those windmills, solar panels, and nuclear plants do not drop from the sky like manna from heaven. The metals, rare earth elements, and aggregate needed to create them still need to be extracted from Earth’s ever-depleting stock. Yes, we may stop emitting carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere which is undoubtedly good, for us. At what cost, however? We will just be offsetting the source of exploitation to another natural good. Solar panels and windmills need to go somewhere. How many more ecosystems must be destroyed before we get the point?
Indeed, an economy based on consumption is fundamentally at odds with living on a limited planet. For the infinite game of human civilization to continue, recognizing these boundaries is a must. The power law distribution of human consumption needs to be broken. The exploitation of the human and biosphere masses will need to be destroyed in concert should this project succeed. An approach to living on this planet that recognizes both the sanctity of human life and the biosphere we are embedded in will and must emerge if we are to make it through the ecological filter.
My own view of the path forward is quite peculiar but I believe in it nonetheless. A Christian eco-anarchist commune sprouting in the wake of our ecological genocide like the seed of a mustard seed. The fundamental solidarity of all men will be extended to the recognition that the natural world around us deserves just the same rights and duties we assign to humans. An ever-expanding sphere of love and compassion that unites all life under one roof, established on a rock with firm foundations.