Breckenridge’s Summit Daily carried an August 19 column, “If we disappeared,” by microbiologist Dr. Joanne Stolen. The article rails against people using plastic bags, and tells us that “we humans have changed the world more than any other species.” Well, yes. There aren’t a whole lot of wildebeest windmills, monkey-made monorails or baboon-built baseball diamonds. Or even platypus-prepared plastic bags. And it’s a good thing, as Dr. Stolen notes. This stuff is killing us!
But there’s a silver lining, as implied in the title of the piece. She warns of “exploding [human] populations in countries like Africa,” but also the advent of AIDS, which she quotes “The World Without Us” author Alan Weisman as speculating is “the animals’ final revenge.”
I’m not, repeat, not saying that Dr. Stolen wants to do us in. She just seems to be sincerely warning us about severe environmental consequences if we keep on with such activities as munching Fritos out of zillions of plastic bags. The good news is that nature takes over the minute that humans stop doing basic maintenance. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, large areas of New Orleans have been reclaimed by “vines and other weeds,” she notes, concluding: “And even if we end up causing our own extinction, it is somewhat reassuring to think that the Earth will not only survive, but flourish.”
Well, that’s a relief. With us gone, the long-horned sheep and bark beetles could really enjoy Independence Pass and the surrounding San Isabel and White River National Forests. Well, maybe not the forests, since the bark beetles are doing a number on all those magnificent pines. Tens of thousands of acres are now blackened. It’s beginning to look like Yellowstone after the 1988 wildfires decimated millions of trees.
But since it’s not humans causing all those trees to die—unless we can blame climate change somehow—it must be a good thing!