Remember the movie “Jurassic Park?” I suspect most folks remember one of the dinosaur scenes the best—the T-Rex peeking into a jeep or the ‘Raptors looking for the kids. Those are great visuals. But it’s interesting that even way back then, long before I started blogging or even before my work assignment was more specifically focused on “green,” the thing I remember most was a line about humanity’s arrogance that we could somehow eradicate LIFE.
As regular readers know, I’m a fan of science fiction and that’s a common theme in a lot of science fiction—the examination of questions such as “what is life?” and also, “how do we value life, particularly in different forms?” That’s not just looking at little green men either, but exploring issues of possible intelligence in animals like dolphins, chimps and even squid!, or looking at the role plants play, etc.. (Want a wood industry specific reading list? I can probably think of a dozen books specifically about interacting with trees! Avatar anyone?)
As I started to write this blog, I went to google that quote to get it right. (And as a side note, isn’t it amazing and wonderful and maybe even a little scary that I can find not one, but dozens of sites offering me the quotes from the movie!?) Reading over the lists, I found more than one quote from the movie on that theme and realized that I had blended in my mind different conversations.
“The planet has survived everything, in its time. It will certainly survive us.”
I’d agree with that. Right now, short of the sun going nova or an asteroid big enough to shatter the planet, no matter what we’re likely to do, the planet will go on without us. It might not be in a form that we recognize, nor will it have the diversity of life or contain the same forms of life we know now, but the planet and life will go on. It would take a lot to totally eradicate all types of life from this earth—so the question comes about valuing a specific type of life. I find the fact that the cockroaches and bacteria live only limited cold comfort….
“Living systems are never in equilibrium. They are inherently unstable. They may seem stable, but they’re not. Everything is moving and changing. In a sense, everything is on the edge of collapse.”
How does this relate to the wood industry? It’s a matter of choices. It’s a matter of taking actions to protect the life forms we value. It’s a matter of recognizing that everything is interconnected, so that while we may hate that mosquito, if we were to remove all mosquitoes from the ecosystem, the system itself may collapse. Who is to say which tree, which forest, which animal is key to our own survival? After all:
“Let’s be clear. The planet is not in jeopardy. We are in jeopardy. We haven’t got the power to destroy the planet – or to save it. But we might have the power to save ourselves.”
Elizabeth Baldwin is Environmental Compliance Officer for Metropolitan Hardwood Floors. In her 25 plus year career in the wood industry has visited over 70 countries and hundreds of facilities of all sizes and types. She describes herself as a “jack of all wood trades.” Familiar with jungles of all sorts–having camped out along the Amazon and walked the halls of Congress–she blogs for the NWFA on both environmental and regulatory issues for educational and informational purposes only. Her blog is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice. Persons seeking legal advice on compliance with CARB, TSCA, the U.S. Lacey Act or any other law, regulation, or compliance requirement/claim should consult with the regulatory agency directly and/or a qualified legal professional.