“When did we last remind ourselves of the permanent, tragic concept of extinction?”
I am reading “The God Species” by Mark Lynas. It is proving to be a cracker.
In one of the early chapters, Lynas discusses the biodiversity planetary boundary. To illustrate how immune we may have become to the biodiversity crisis, he draws upon Stalin to note that “the death of an individual is a tradgedy. The death of a million people is a statistic”.
It’s a good point. We are in the midst of a full throe mass extinction; events that have left significant markers in the past history of the planet. How can we come to grips with this?
To Lynas’ credit, he does the subject great justice in his chapter. But sometimes when words and numbers fail, art and music can help to bridge the gap and remind us of what is at stake.
The Mountain Goats are probably my favourite musical act in the whole world. Regulars to Australia, I’ve seen them perform three times in Melbourne and twice in Adelaide. John Darnielle has been called “America’s best lyricist” and “one of the 100 best living songwriters”. I make no argument.
This tune moved me greatly when first I heard it, and The God Species brought it straight to mind. With Darnielle’s lyrics, rarely is the most obvious interpretation all there is to it, and no doubt there is more to this track than I am using it for here. But it’s effective. When did we last remind ourselves of the permanent, tragic concept of extinction? You may like to spend 3m 21s doing just that with a little help from Darnielle and Co.
Deuteronomy 2:10 (The Emim lived there formerly, a people as great, numerous, and tall as the Anakim)