Poems for a wounded planet

‘O, thou poor ruin’d world!/ thou horrible ruin! once like me thou wast all glorious…’ William Blake, 1757-1827, Vala or the Four Zoas

‘…but when the planets,/ In evil mixture, to disorder wander,/  What plagues, and what portents, what mutiny,/ What raging of the sea, shaking of earth,/ Commotion in the winds, frights, changes, horrors,/ Divert and crack, rend and deracinate/ The unity and married calm of states/ Quite from their fixture! O, when degree is shaked,/ Which is the ladder to all high designs,/ The enterprise is sick! How could communities,/ Degrees in schools, and brotherhoods in cities,/ Peaceful commerce from dividable shores,/ The primogenity and due of birth,/ Prerogative of age, crowns, sceptres, laurels,/ But by degree, stand in authentic place?/ Take but degree away, untune that string,/ And hark, what discord follows! each thing meets/ In mere oppugnancy: the bounded waters/ Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores,/ And make a sop of all this solid globe…” William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Troilus and Cressida

‘Climate change is the greatest threat facing the planet. Rising temperatures are causing more droughts, floods and storms and causing sea levels to rise. Unless we act now,  climate change will put the lives and homes of millions at risk and could condemn one third of all species to extinction by the middle of this century. For all of us, climate change could threaten the way we live.’ Greenpeace, 2006

‘Oh what a catastrophe, what a maiming of love when it was made personal, merely personal feeling, taken away from the rising and the setting of the sun, and cut off from the magic connection of the solstice and equinox! This is what is the matter with us, we are bleeding at the roots, because we are cut off from the Earth, and sun, and stars - and love, poor blossom, we plucked from its stem on the tree of life, and expected it to keep on blooming in our civilised vase on the table.’ D.H. Lawrence

‘The ring of living beauty drawn about our shores was a very thin and fragile one. It had existed all those centuries solely in consequence of the indifference, the blissful ignorance of man. These rock-basins, fringed by corallines, filled with still water almost as pellucid as the upper air itself, thronged with beautiful sensitive forms of life - they exist no longer, they are all profaned, and emptied and vulgarized… the exquisite product of centuries of natural election has been crushed…’ Edmund Gosse, Father and Son, 1907

‘We're facing a catastrophe, with hundreds of millions of people at risk from severe drought, starvation and disease. The time has come to respond with the utmost urgency. ‘ Ashok Sinha, Director, Stop Climate Chaos

‘At once we regonisde;/ The comet loaded with a terrible secret./ And try to look away or shut ot eyes;/ But seem to grasp its orbit through shut eyelids;/ No symbol or equation can express/ That orbit, or unravel what it means,/ The paradoxical writing on the sky.’ Daylight Astronomy, Edward Lowbury

One grand great life throbs through earth's giant heart,/ And mighty waves of single Being roll/From nerve-less germ to man, for we are part/Of every rock and bird and beast and hill,/ One with the things that prey on us, and one with what we kill.’ Oscar Wilde, Panthea

’The mind begins early to select from the buzz and humdrum, till most/ men end hearing nothing, when the earth speaks, but their own/ voices.’ Ronald Johnson, Beam 7

‘Climate change is the single biggest long-term problem we face - the evidence is overwhelming.’ Tony Blair, Prime Minister, UK

‘Climate change is a far greater threat to the world than international terrorism.’ Sir David King, Chief Scientific Adviser, UK

‘Global Warming - The 1990s was the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year on global record (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC). The Earth is warming faster than at any time in the past 10,000 years (IPCC).The burning of coal, oil and gas has increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by 30% over natural levels (IPCC).By 2100 the world could be 6ºC (IPCC) - recent research (e.g. at Oxford Univ.) suggests it could even be as much as 10ºC warmer on average. The summer of 2003 was Europe’s hottest for 500 years. The heatwave caused 28,000 premature deaths across the continent. Europe’s capitals have warmed, some by 2°C in the last 30 years. London’s average maximum summer temperature increased the most. This warming trend will increase the likelihood of more frequent and intense heatwaves, droughts and rainstorms (WWF-UK). 150,000 people already die every year from climate change (World Health Organisation).The area of the world stricken by drought has doubled between 1970 and the early 2000s (Greenpeace).The economic costs of global warming are doubling every decade (UN).

The impact of climate change on some wildlife will already be catastrophic even with little further change in the climate. Up to a third of land-based species could face extinction by the middle of the century (RSPB). 100 million more people will be flooded by end of century (FoE). People in low-income countries are four times more likely to die in natural disasters than people in high income countries. Globally, disaster losses increased from $71 billion in the 1960s to $608 billion in 1990s. Poverty and lagging development exacerbates people’s vulnerability to extreme weather (Oxfam). Water availability could decline – Over 3 billion people in the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent could be facing acute shortages of water (Oxfam). Global warming will submerge many low-lying island nations entirely- one of the Carteret atolls of Papua New Guinea has already been cut in half by the ocean. Tuvalu in the South Pacific has concluded a deal with New Zealand to evacuate the entire 10,000 population (People & Planet). 30 million more people may be hungry because of climate change by 2050 (Hadley Centre, UK). There has been a 40% drop in the amount of arctic ice since the 1970s. Were this effect to spread, and the northern ice fields melt, a rise in sea levels of up to seven meters would occur. This would not simply overwhelm low-lying countries like Bangladesh, but also major western cities such as London, Rome and New York (People & Planet).

The whole western Siberian sub-Arctic region has started to thaw for the first time since its formation, 11,000 years ago. The area, which is the size of France and Germany combined, could release billions of tones of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This would be irreversible and would ramp up temperatures even more (BBC). In the next 15 years, displacement, disruption to agriculture and food supplies, and damage and destruction to infrastructure would be likely to lead to economic and political instability, both within countries and across international borders, and even to wars as environmental refugees seek new homes and countries clash over scarce water and food supplies. The industrial countries also could find themselves under immense pressure from huge numbers of environmental refugees from the developing world (Christian Aid). Polar bears could become extinct by the end of this century. They are very unlikely to survive as a species if there is an almost complete loss of summer sea ice cover, which is projected to occur before the end of this century by some climate models (WWF-UK). By the end of the century, rising sea levels and crop failures could create 150 million refugees. Even in the UK, 5 million people are at risk from increased flood and storm damage (Operation Noah). In one region of Mozambique, it used to be normal with two seasons – hot and cool. Recently temperatures have risen from 30°C up to 49°C in the hot season and are less cold in the cool season, changing the timing of the rains. The majority of communities are afraid to plant, thinking that it is not the right time, thus affecting the food security of the region (Tearfund). The cost of insured damage in a severe hurricane season in the USA could rise by three-quarters to £82billion ($ 150 billion), an increase equivalent to almost three Hurricane Andrews - the costliest single weather event recorded” (Association of British Insurers).The financial costs of flooding could rise in both the UK and the rest of Europe, increasing the annual flood bill by up to £82 billion across Europe. (Association of British Insurers).’ Stop Climate Chaos, 2006

The beat of the dark drum

The beat of the dark drum; lemming-march

to extinction, degradation, sick diminuition

of Earth’s glorious past, stored for the future

in genetic gifts - wrapped by seasons in time,

in careful process rehearsed for four billion years,

now ripped apart, discarded, desecrated, trampled;

living monuments of the dead - future effigies

toppling from the pedestal of Nature’s beauty,

her extravagant displays, planetary exhibition -

harmonious, fantastical art. Our own scribbling

grafitti she could take, erase, heal over, mend,

but now we have loosed a shadow - dark force

we conjured solely from our thoughtlessness,

our creed of self before all; forgetting that all

is one – Earth is not alone, for Earth is us -

this discord, falling apart, planetary illness,

is our own fever, our own knell: Ask not

for whom the Earth tolls, it tolls for thee,

says the Polar Bear in snow white letters

as Polar ice shelves tumble on television.

And still we didn’t react with drama, decision,

as if small voices crying about the wilderness

were too painful; what they say, incomprehensible -

against ancient ideas of unalterable, enduring Nature;

our backdrop, we thought - constant, massive,

outwith all human control; so noble, powerful

and humbling. We cannot believe the animal,

who could rip our throats red with one gulp -

has become like a wild circus lion - threatened,

cajoled, emaciated, fenced; his freedoms stolen.

So long Earth has resisted; diplomacy with Sun,

always adjusting to keep us fed, watered - fried

only at our own insistence. But we have willed

the ozone gone, opening dark unimagined gates

where all manner of deeper shadows form,

now muscular with reality - not hampered

by being dreams, nightmares - theories,

hypotheses, calculations unimaginable;

now hearing the beat of the dark drum -

they believe in the catastrophe of victory.

‘Lighting an average office overnight wastes enough energy to heat water for 1,000 cups of tea.  A PC monitor on standby uses 51kWh per year of electricity (equivalent to 500 boiling kettles) .Two photocopiers and three printers switched off saves around five tonnes of CO2 per year.’ BBC, 2006

‘Imagine melting polar icecaps and rising sea levels, threatening highly developed coastal areas...Imagine a warmer and wetter world in which infectious diseases such as malaria and yellow fever spread more easily…[this is not] science fiction; it is sober prediction, based on the best science available…A path to prosperity that ravages the environment and leaves a majority of humankind behind in squalor will soon prove to be a dead-end road for everyone.’ Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General

The key is actually discarding the idea that has dominated economic policy making, which is: in order for a country to get rich, stay rich and get richer, you have to put more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. That isn't true and it hasn't been true for years.” Bill Clinton, former US President

“I urge governments, development and environmental organisations to work together to find sustainable solutions to avert a catastrophe that will exacerbate human suffering to a magnitude that perhaps the world has not yet seen.” Desmond Tutu, Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa

‘Scientists believe we have to cut the amounts of carbon dioxide (C02) being released from now on. The Kyoto Protocol sets targets for the maximum amount of C02 pollution rich countries can produce. The world's biggest polluter - the United States - hasn't signed the agreement.’ Friends of the Earth, 2006

‘When we speak of Nature it is wrong to forget that we are ourselves a part of Nature. We ought to view ourselves with the same curiosity and openness with which we study a tree, the sky or a thought, because we too are linked to the entire universe.’ Henri Matisse, artist

‘Record Heat: According to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) 2005 was the hottest year ever, even warmer then the 1998 ENSO year.  Additionally, NASA, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the UK Meteorological Office agree that 2005 was the hottest year on record for the Northern Hemisphere, at roughly 0.72° C (1.3° F) above the historical average. Least Icy Arctic Ever: In September of 2005, the Arctic sea ice extent (area covered) was the least ever recorded by satellites, continuing a 9.8% per decade decline of perennial sea ice cover, which is the thicker ice that normally does not disappear in the summer. The present decline makes the current sea ice extent about 1.3 million km2 (500,000 square miles or roughly the size of Peru) smaller than the historic average (1979 to 2000).

Caribbean Waters Hottest on Record: Waters in the Caribbean were hotter for longer than ever before measured by regional monitoring systems. This resulted in extensive bleaching throughout the region, from Colombia to the Florida Keys. Only this year’s record breaking hurricane activity limited additional bleaching. FIVE Records Broken by 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season: In fact, although hurricane season officially ended on the last day of November, Hurricane Epsilon was still blowing in the Atlantic into December. Most Named Storms:Twenty-six named storms, exceeding the official name list and moving through the first five letters of the Greek alphabet. The United States National Hurricane Center predicted a large year but estimated 18-21. Most Hurricanes: Fourteen became hurricanes, meaning that winds exceeded 119 km per hour (74 mph). The previous record was 12 hurricanes in one year. Most Category Five Storms:This year had five storms with winds over 249 kph (155 mph) Most Storms Hitting the United States: Four storms made landfall. Most Expensive Hurricane Damage: Figures are still not final for the 2005 season, however Hurricane Katrina alone is already estimated at “over US$100 Billion total losses” [1] Record Droughts round the Planet: A drought in the Amazon this year is a multidecadal if not century record. The western United States also continued its multiyear drought.

Time to Take Action! Events like these, overlayed on the recent dramatic findings of a slowing Gulf Stream[2] , focus more attention on our need to take decisive action on climate change. Limiting climate change to less than a 2ºC (3.6ºF) global average increase is key to limiting dangerous climate responses such as these which punctuated 2005. [1] Insurance Industry Institute [2] Bryden et al. 2005 Slowing of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation at 25° N. Nature 438: 655-657.' WWF, 2006

The unheard-of voice

The unheard-of voice, calling across the wilderness,

infiltrating cities - town and village, sea shore, field;

the Anti-Word, cancellation of creativity - just Nothing,

therefore invisible but for effect. Dissolution of Nature,

making shambolic ancient processes aeons long,

magnificent culture, Earth’s fantastic chemistry;

stumbling her great Aesthetic, relentless energy -

tripping her evolutionary switches, genetic stars;

perverting her futures, written in the seed’s mind,

soul of a flower – everywhere putting on a brave

face; in your own garden, only Thrush seems lost,

your butterflies, a frog or two less - wee sparrows

that cheered the towns for centuries; under leaves

and earth you cannot see what’s gone, was there -

you cannot comprehend the losses, what they mean.

They are rubbed from reality; where they should be,

there the dark voice singing a smiling, low lament,

claiming the space - the lack of organic molecules.

‘Every world-epoch is marked on its heights by a cosmological (cosmopoetic) idea which creates the field of high endeavour in that age…In the Modern Age (dominated by techno-science), it is, with disastrous consequences, the idea of the Mastery of Man over Nature.’ Kenneth White, Poet, Open World

"If it were only a few degrees, that would be serious, but we could adapt to it. But the danger is the warming process might be unstable and run away. We could end up like Venus, covered in clouds and with the surface temperature of 400 degrees. It could be too late if we wait until the bad effects of warming become obvious. We need action now to reduce emission of carbon dioxide." Professor Stephen Hawking, Physicist

‘The ancient covenant is in pieces: man at last knows he is alone in the unfeeling immensity of the universe out of which he emerged only by chance.’ Jacques Monod, Chance and Necessity, 1974

‘A human being is part of the whole called by us universe ... We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.’ Albert Einstein

‘The notion that the environment in general – nature as a whole – has value in itself, a notion which is expressed in view such as ‘deep ecology’, is blocked by the more reductive idea that nature cannot possibly matter except in so far as it contributes to human welfare. About animals, things are still more confused. The idea of dismissing them as mere disposable instruments now trickes many of us as immoral and repulsive. Yet the rationalist half of the tradition is deeply committed to claiming that only rational beings of a strictly human kind can have the kind of value or importance that would bring them within the scope of morality at all…this dominant emphasis on human claims was not originally meant to work as a barrier against concern for other earthly beings….And it was, of course, invented at a time when the facts about our planet were quite different from what they now are. The possibility of real environmental diasaster had not then come on the horizon at all.  Its apperance in the last half century is surely one of the greatest changes that has ever happened to the human race. It would be suprising if it did not demand an answering change in everybody’s conceptual scheme.’ Mary Midgley, Science and Poetry, Routeledge, 2003

Space Freak


self-sustaining system - divine

creation/strange chance

happening/space freak -

or most beloved of a deity.

Whatever notion or name -

Earth is suffering; our planet’s

ancient systems breaking down

because of us - it’s our fault,

whether we are her children,

or just weird chance creatures

with overdeveloped brains -

unrivalled capacity for screwing up

refined concepts of love and honour;

responsibility. We are dependents -

Nature having refined our umbilical

connection to organic invisibility -

we cannot command breathing sea,

conduct clouds, generate air, grow

trees in old relationships with Sun;

not on this colossal scale,

as she does so tirelessly -

but if we do nothing right now, today -

to mend our dirty ways, cure our home,

at the dark eleventh hour,

before the witching hour,

and beautiful, withering Earth dies -

she or it will take you/us with her/it.

‘Lo! Earth has passed away/ On the smoke of Judgement Day./ That Our Word may be established shall/ We gather up the sea?...then stopped the Lord and He called the good sea up to Him,/ And ‘stablished its borders unto all eternity..’ Rudyard Kipling, The Last Chantey

‘I find it bizarre in these cirucmstnaces that our enirovnmental concerns are nearly all human and personal. We worry far more about some remote danger of harm from pesticide or unusual genes in food that we do about the grim inevitability of global warming and all the harm that it will bring. We drive heedlessly to the superarket in our polluting cars where we buy organic, pesticide-free food for ourselves and our family. Our priorites are all wrong. Our demons of nuclear raditation and carcinogens from chemical industry are there but tiny and feeble compared with the monsters that endanger the earth and that we made. We should fear the effects of removing natural habitats with their ability to serve as global and local regulators… We should fear the consequences of changing the composition of the atmosphere…’ James Lovelock, personal communication to philosopher Mary Midgley, 1999

‘Who can tell but that, in time, this pure air may become a fashionable article in luxury. Hitherto only two mice and myself have had the privilege of breathing it.’ Jospeh Priestley, Experiments and Observation on Different Kinds of Air, 1775

We cannot see the wood dying

We cannot see the wood dying,

though many trees are falling -

we cannot see the forest burning

though many trees are in flames -

one by one,

acre by acre.

Until we can no longer breathe:

see the wood is no longer there.

‘The notion that our responsibilities do not end at national frontiers – that we owe some real duties to other humans - is not, of course, a new one in our culture…The idea that we might also owe duties to the non-human world is, however, much more shocking. The contractual model of rationality excludes that idea and our tradition has taken some pains to stigmatise it as sentimental, pagan and anti-human. And unitl recently, prudence did not seem to call for this kind of consideration either because the natural resources available to us were seen as literally infinite.’ Mary Midgley, Science and Poetry, Routeledge, 2003

‘Climate Change - Global temperatures have risen consistently for the past 140 years and it is now widely accepted that this change is linked to man-made greenhouse gas emissions that have increased with industrialisation and the burning of fossil fuels. Climate change is a better phrase than global warming because it encompasses many kinds of effects. Some areas will be warmer, some cooler, sea levels may rise, polar ice caps may melt, deserts might spread across Europe and extreme weather events may become more frequent. The main greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide…Levels in the atmosphere have risen by a third since the industrial revolution started in the 1760s. Other greenhouse gases include methane, nitrous oxides, ozone and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that the global temperature will rise by as much as 6°C this century. Near the poles, in parts of Alaska, Canada, Siberia and the Antarctic, temperatures are rising faster than elsewhere. The permafrost is melting and plants, animals and the people that live there are already being affected. Arctic sea ice is melting at a faster rate than previously thought. A report by NASA (December 2002) warned that it might disappear completely by the end of the century. Melting sea ice doesn't raise sea levels but it could threaten ocean productivity, change current systems and disrupt global weather still further (because heat that would be reflected off the ice will be absorbed instead). Sea ice also plays an important role in keeping the ice and snow covering the Antarctic continent in place. With nothing to stop it, the Antarctic ice sheet may slide into the ocean and melt. In this extreme case, sea levels would rise by an estimated 65 to 70 metres. Evidence suggests that land glaciers are retreating at an unprecidented rate.

Some scientists estimate that the impact of glacial melt water, together with other factors, such as the thermal expansion of sea water, will cause a significant change. The IPCC currently predicts a sea level rise of between 11 and 88cm this century. Some 50 million people a year already have to deal with flooding caused by storm surges. If the sea rises by half a metre, this number could double.  A metre rise would inundate 1% of Egypt's land, 6% of the Netherlands and 17.5% of Bangladesh. Only 20% of the Marshall Islands would be left above water. Although the ice sheets in Greenland have been thinning, analysis of long-term climate information (presented in the journal Geophysical Review Letters) has shown that temperatures in the southern part of the island and the Labrador Sea have fallen over the last 40 years, not risen. Scientists associate this cooling with the North Atlantic Oscillation, a natural and recurring pressure pattern that has a profound impact on the weather experienced in the North Atlantic region. Countries such as the US and Australia emit more CO2 per person than other nations because of their high dependence on fossil-fuel power plants and high living standards. The US alone pumps out a quarter of the world's CO2 emissions. As global climate change shifts temperatures across the planet, species may not be able to follow fast enough. According to UNEP, they will have to migrate 10 times as fast as they did after the last ice age. Many won't make it. Species that do move will do so at different rates, breaking up existing communities. At high latitudes, entire forest types are expected to disappear, to be replaced by new ones. During this transition, carbon will be lost to the atmosphere faster than it can be replaced by new growth, accelerating climate change. At the 2002 World Summit in Johannesburg, Russia stated that it would ratify the Kyoto treaty. This means that enough big producers of greenhouse gases have signed up to bring the treaty into effect. The US (the world's main CO2 producer) has refused to ratify the treaty.’ BBC, 2006

White burning from the world

White burning from the world,

that was blinding at the start -

her freezing chemistries building

the milky bear for long millennia,

soothed sun, planetary foreheads

in her white palms. Snow Queen,

her heart is pure ice, crystalline,

indestructible as diamonds, but

we have found a way to unbind

her dazzling spells over water -

release the willing molecules -

who have no master but reality;

plasticity of form subservient

to laws - the bending of them

by imaginative rules we do not know

or understand, keeping things lively -

her whiteness dissolving like a bride

melting into murky puddles; virginal

colour from the beginning, watching

stars grow old, now choking the rock-

jawed mouth of sea, which has bravely

swallowed all manner of man’s poison

for the cause; keeping the planet balanced,

healthy as can be - in a vast, active system.

The blue eye of Earth is looking now

with fear - to the burned, frozen stars.

While Earth burns

Sky opens from snuffling cloud,

a great blue eye, all unblinking -

enquiring why I sit thus,

hands passive as leaves,

mouth shut tight as a bud,

dumber than any animal -

tired black eyes looking up,

innocent as broiling poppies

in gold cauldrons of summer corn - 

chilled Forget-me-nots by wild water;

enjoying the controlled light -

green tree shadows on my skin

moving like startled shoals of lazy fish -

wheezing wind dusting pollen, perfumes

for haloed bees suspended in gooey air -

amid bobbing galaxies of sparkling flies;

sipping the ancient wine of summer,

slumped drunk on her heady fumes -

while Earth burns,

while Earth burns.

‘Among the vicissitudes of the earth’s surface, species cannot be immortal, but must perish, one after the other, like the individuals which compose them. There is no possibility of escaping from this conclusion.’ Charles, Lyell, Geologist, Principles of Geology, 1830-3

‘All this means that, in spite of recent influences, direct concern about destruction of the natural world is still a natural, spontaneous feeling in us and one that we no longer have any good reason to suppress. Most people, hearing about the wanton destruction of forests and oceans find it shocking and - as has become clear in the last few decades – many of them are prepared to take a good deal of trouble to prevent it. This feeling of shock and outrage is the energy-source which makes change possible. It has not, of course, been properly tapped yet.  As happened over nuclear power, it takes a disaster to bring such needs home to people.’ Mary Midgley, Science and Poetry, Routeledge, 2003

‘No one will see again on the shore of England what I saw in my early childhood, the submarine vision of dark rocks, speckled and starred with an infinite variety of colour, and streamed over by silken flags of royal crimson and purple.’ Edmund Gosse, Father and Son, Heinemann, 1907

‘Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;/ And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;/ And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil/ Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.’ God’s Grandeur, Gerard Manley Hopkins

He’s Bloody Brilliant that Goad

He’s bloody brilliant that Goad, y’know –

(a shouldnae swear but there are occasions,

like fir yir powder blue suit an matchin stewpid big soasser hat

wi’a ribbon - no many, but some).

Anyway, Goad - starts oaf up there in the dark,

probably bored off his trolley,

naebdy tae speak tae aw day -

(no that thir wiz day then though) -

hummin and hawin aboot whit tae dae,

then ‘Bing’ – he realised there wiz nae point

in being a Word if ye didnae say anything -

if ye sat there a potential and nae action

(bit like ma youngest boy, Cameron) -

‘BING! Am a creator, ad better get oan an create

instead o contemplating the mystery o my ane existence…’

Because if he disnae ken something, who does?

‘BING!’ It wiz like ma man, Jone, decidin – ‘Jean!’

just like that, tae build the new con-serv-a-tory,

right in the middle o his Chicken Balti -

‘A the space and light we need withoot movin!’

Anyway, whit a job. He didnae hae much tae go-oan -

a mean makin the yooniverse, no Jone an the con-serv-a-tory -

he’s goat plenty o stuff, big heaps o-it, wi weeds comin through,

though ad take better oads oan a yooniverse bein created

in the same time...

Anway, He didnae hae much tae go-oan, Goad –

a few wee clouds o dust and a bunch o gases,

an mind, He’d no made anythin else like this afore -

(that is like Jone and the con-serv-a-tory certainly).

It wiz a tall order, and He needed a few goes like,

tae get the hang o the planets and how tae stoap

thim crashin intae one another, an explodin,

an gettin too hoat and burnin up – (like learnin tae

make scoans a bit) - which wouldnae do if ye were

goin tae hiv people an animals an a that…

An there was somethin wroang - Him gropin aboot

wi the bricks and bones o the Universe – He couldnae see

whit He wiz doin, and He wiz fair perplexed; kin ye imagine

tryin tae make somethin wi’oot being able tae see? -

(though a once saw a man lookin at pain-ins, in the big Moaney

exhibition whor a went wi ma ladies - a the queues an a, it wiz great,

an this man he wiz blind, wi his hands oot in front o him,

as if he wiz lookin at they pain-ins wi his hands, his brain like -

maybe wee vibrations fae the canvas an paint, the way he paints,

that Moaney, it’s like that – a shut ma ain eyes fir an instant

an a cin still see they painins). Anyway, back tae Goad -

He cannae really see whit He’s doin, an it’s a hard enough joab,

so then this idea came intae his brain – happens, when ye’re a Creator,

like a thae artists that wid come along later by and by,

dreamin o wings an medicines an pictures an poems an that,

then makin them – ad love tae dae that – ye get the idea fae knittin,

fae makin up a Valentine rhyme fir Jone a these years,

makin pictures wi ma boys when they wir wee - ye’re not sure

whit ye’re trying tae paint but feelin it’s there somewhere tae find –

a kept some, in the attic... Anyway, He couldnae see, so whereas

you ir me might hae just given up an goan fir a wee snooze,

He just said: ‘Let there be Light’ and… there wiz! Just like that!

…Light, eh, just like that. One o his finest inventions in no mistake –

now that’s what you call a flash o inspiration, throwin light

on the matter - being illuminatin! A right bright spark, Him.

And once He goat over bein a dazzled, He liked it - He saw it wiz great!

Like when Jone re-wired the sittin room after a blew-oot fuse incident

when the boise wiz wee and we’d only hid a wee bedside lamp

outside in the hall for light a that time – we all said ‘Hallelujah!’

I don’t mean tae be blasphemous, but a doubt Goad himself

wiz noat mare surprised tae see light than I wiz. Ma mooth stark open.

He realised he’d had it in Him a the time; just hadnae goat roond

tae actually creating it fir the outside – He’s like that... No, no Jone, Goad.

Anyway, He makes light; in fact He has a suspicion He might BE light

somehow, the way He’s shinin, but things are confusin enough,

big enough - like when ye have yir ane baby, and kinda underston….

So then He could really see whit He wiz doin up there, so oav course,

then there wiz nae stoapin Him! A that combining o things, mixin,

experimentin – ye can see the sky is littered wi a His auld experiments -

(His burnt scoans if ye like, soaggy scoans) - and am right glad o that,

sae beautiful, but always remindin ye that this is the one that’s alive

an teemin, this is the one. This blue yin doon here. The only one.

Ye see He’d never breathed before - He didnae have to, cos breathin

means alive and nuthin wiz alive then, no like that, a moist an warm

an vulnerable – He just wanted tae make something, tae bring something

forth - wimmin feel like that, y’know, that kindae hunger - can understan

that wantin tae bring life forth stuff, how He must hae felt that, like an ache

passing right o’er that black foreverness - that nuthin. Bein a alain.

Anyway, He didnae breathe like you ir me - ir me peckin up oor hill,

or Jone puffin just dane the grass - but like that breath withoot the air,

just the spirit o’it - like ye dinnae breathe intae the mouth o your child

but ye breathe life intae it - ye bring it forth fae ye. And the light

an the breath an the waater - an the dust an the fire an a the chemicals -

a that, it just disnae seem possible, but there it is – Earth. Shinin awa

in the sky just like it’s always been there; and it’s sae blue - they say that,

fae oot in space - sae blue - the Blue Planet. It always reminds me o an eye

somehow – ma Jone has affy bonny blue eyes though he always says hush

when a say it but likes it right enough – a think o Earth a bit like Goad’s eye.

Nae wonder He cried when it wiz done - am sure He did, because ye see,

it wisn’t just whit He’d made that you or I could hae seen if we’d been there,

it wis whit wiznae there - that would be there - a that possibility, an the miracle

wiz, ye couldnae see a thing, noat a sausage – took a blimmin few billenniums

till ye goat a wee stinky swamp, an some o they amoeba and wee beasties and

worms – well, there wiz a loang wye tae go fae a wurum tae George Clooney

if ye see whit a mean – though it’s easier tae see the wurum within wi some folks a could mention - but we’ll say nae mare aboot that, trying tae be Christian aboot it.

Av said tae Jone, ma man, how it must hae been like seeing ma wee boise

and knowin that they’ll change intae great lanky teenagers, then intae men

an hae their own bairns, oan and oan – al bet Goad still greets at the birth

o every bairn and they wee bit starvin bairns are the first in His arms -

in His best rooms in their wee bit cotes a plump an milky an thir eyes shinin.

And ad like tae see whit Goad does tae a person who lifts their hand tae a bairn - touches a bairn…

Anyway, ye’d need tae be pretty patient tae wait till we came along

an started speakin tae Him – d’ye think He goat lonely, bein the Creator,

an abody else just flutterin an jumpin an limpin along? – though s’pose

he thoat it wid never be finished – (That’s like ma Joan’s conservatory tae –

a call it ‘The Creation’ - a say it’s just as well it hiz glass walls coase then

ye cannae see they’re no there yet. The concrete’s doon though, foundations,

so a suppose he’s aboot at the swamp stage - a few wee amoebas o bricks

wid be good though…) Anyway, d’ye think Goad saw how we loved oor

bairns mair than anythin and how they loved us – D’ye think that’s why

he made hissel a son? A ken a wid, if ad been a Creator, though I suppose

a am a creator oan a small scale, like av said. And we went an kilt His son,

poor Goad - just the spirit o him left, but Goad’s right, yi are yir children

an they’re you – a ken a wid leave ma boady in an instant and go right up

an chap oan Goad’s door, even if it meant sleepin in His garden shed

because ma room wiznae ready yet, if it meant savin any o ma boise –

ad be there in a blimmin flash, just try’n stoap me onyboady.

But then we went oan tae start killin oor planet, wir Earth,

wir beautiful shinin Earth – a keep looking at the Moon,

sayin tae myself til Jone thinks am awa dreamin aboot

foareign holidays an the like - ‘Is that whit ye want, people

o Earth? Is that whit ye want - that dust and dryness, just

the light left oan like a ghost o’ Earth. Will ye no stoap?’

An a recycle ma boatels – a say recyclin Jone’s beer boatels

is enough tae save the planet on its oan - an a re-use ma packaging,

an pit the lights oaf - but whit else can a dae? Naebody tells us,

they just keep saying we’re tae blame, and a get fuuuurious,

because a want tae know whit tae do, how tae stoap it, and a don’t know

whit Jone wid think o’it, me goin and lyin doon in front o a bulldozer

ir something, strappin ma ample self tae a tree, a wimmin o my age –

is that a ye kin do? Av no been abroad except France, though ad like

tae see the rainfoarest right enough - and they foarest people wi a

thir feathers an medicines… Is there no somethin else we kin dae?

It’s no like am oan ma own - and ye don’t hiv tae think Goad

is pretty blimmin brilliant fir creatin’ the Earth an that tae want

tae see it saved. Ma neighbour, auld Betty - ye know she telt

me once – after a few Hoagmanay drams right enough –

that she sometimes sits in her beauuutiful bit garden her

an her man, Toam, hiv spent a lifetime oan - an she looks

at a the floo-ers an the butterflies an a the buzzin bees

a aroond, an she cries, just like that - tears runnin doon

her face, just sitting there a alone, at the thocht o it no

existin, any o it - the bees and floo-ers an even a they insects –

an if Betty feels like that aboot her wee bit garden, cin ye

imagine how Goad feels? It’s bad enough a the wars and

starvation an that - aye, that’s bad enough, but tae kill the Earth…

An a suppose one day, that’ll mean all o us tae, bein we’re part.

Jone says nae to worry masel that much, cos we’ll no be here

tae see it, ony desolation, but that’s nae the point is it –

we’ll probably no be here tae see his con-serv-atory either –

but ye canne just think o yersel, it’s no right. It’s urgent, see -

a heard oan the news yesterday, Betty too, aboot ‘mass extinction’,

a the things aboot us just disappearin – slowly, but surely – a fir nothing.

We just aboot hid oor hankies oot, but that wid hae been embarrassin that.

But later am sitting in the dark, there’s nae lights at a –

no just coase it’s safer that wye since Jone’s ‘Let there be light’,

hallelujah doadgy re-wiring – and Jone’s snoarin like a dinosaur

wi a snoatty nose - an a sit until am totally cold, an ma heart

is like a stoan it’s goin so slowly – it’s almost like am listenin

fir something - listenin and waitin - and then ma lips start movin,

though there’s nae sound at a comin oot - ye kin still hear the drippin

o the tap – (needin a washer fir the last couple o years) - like the hoose

is cryin too, like Betty cryin; but am no cryin, nae greetin - cos am angry

in ma chair too, angry at the waste o it; a that beauty an love and comin tae

be and goin oan bein a shinin an blue, and a they floo-ers an animals; tigers,

leopards, polar bears, and a they kind people who never get a look-in except

tae die sometimes fir other folks’ quarrels; a they good people who want tae

make it right – we’re like a the children o the planet - aye, earth’s children

right enough; an we feel that, like the earth is oor mother, an just like a made

an looked after ma boise an made them happy a think, so then one day a ken

they’ll hae tae look after me, an auld wummin wi an SoS pendant roon ma neck, like Jone says he’ll thraw hisself aff the bridge if it happens tae him, but a think it’s OK – a think we need tae look after wir mother, all o us’s mother.

So ma lips are whisperin, still wi nae sound, just movin in the darkness,

and a just ken there are mair like me, mair children o the Earth -

though it’s no them ye hear - but this night, Goad help me, a hear them,

an it’s like a prayer, the way it’s dead important but naebdy can hear it,

just Him upstairs - proabably He’s greetin, not knowin exactly whit the best plan is when wir supposed tae be free an that;  a don’t s’pose when He thocht o that as a bright idea - dead clever - so we wid hiv fire an spirit an no be like puppets fir onyone – took it seriously in Scoatland we did, right enough – a doan’t s’pose he ever thocht o people being so bloody stewpit, sae reckless and selfish - such eedjits; no wi everythin they had tae look at, find oot aboot, enjoy - even if it wiz just yir wee picnic once a year, yir bit garden, a bunch o floo-ers. The lightning bolts an that, tha’s just old fashioned in’it - He’s no like that, onyone kin see that – a big soaftie – aye, Goad is a big softie.

Onywye, suddenly there is a sound an a jump in ma chair -

but dinnae wirry, it’s no Him - no, no Jone, Him, the Big Yin –

it’s no even an angel, though it’s the kinda moment ye might

expect it tae happen, an a bairn in late life wid suit me just fine

if it wiz an angel saying anythin suprisin like that - but it’s me

a hear. It’s me that maks me jump – it’s ma voice, kinda thin

an weedy, like a wee moose speakin tae its freens - “Tell me

whit tae dae.”  That’s whit a say, oot loud. A think ad better

shu’up before Jone gets up and thinks av goan loony or somethin,

but ma lips are saying just this, cos a hear them, an a hear it again -

Please, show me whit tae dae”. An who am a speakin tae – men

ir Goad. Boath? An is onybody listenin - ‘cos am a ready tae help. 

‘Indignant concern on behalf of the environment does, then, already exist. Our difficulty is that we cannot see how to fit it into our traditional morality which – both in its Christian and its secular forms – has in general been carefully tailored to fit only the human scene….A clearer, more realistic imaginative vision of the world is bound to make for a clearer sense of priorities. The lurid competitive myths which have recently coloured our views both on human social life and on evolution can obscure our real dangers completely… For about a century and a half, competitive ideologies have reigned more or less unopposed in our culture and the notion of the physical world as an infinitely exploitable oyster has been accepted. Social atomism and social Darwinism have been the romantic myths of the early capitalist age. They are the background assumptions which we now need to correct. What Gaian thinking can do is help us to do this by seeing what is before our eyes rather than looking at these videos. It brings us up with a quite new force against facts that we have been told about already but have never really taken in.’ Mary Midgley, Science and Poetry, Routeledge, 2003

I lay my hand on Earth’s brow

I lay down on Earth and listened,

but she did not, could not speak -

I turned to Sky, shouted,

but there was no reply -

Water just ran through my hands,

as I attempted to communicate -

Sea just kept up sighing - on and on -

as I cried on the shore, threw pebbles.

I offered myself in their service,

asked for command, instruction;

if they could bring down cities -

boil rocks, blast any fabrication,

wipe out life in a single breath -

spew fire, flood, make mountains;

why then, would they not fight back?

why would they not save themselves?

The Sun just kept on smiling, shining -

River dumbly pursued her silver course;

only Grass started whispering,

Flowers mouthing something

surreptiously to me, about Nature,

how they had been born from love;

from there all energies and power,

whatever glory, sprang - nothing

could alter this fundamental seed-truth;

disasters, destruction, were bad enough,

when great forces in this bright pinprick space

clashed, collided - could not help themselves,

in the necessary volatility of a living planet,

immense power required for its functioning;

but they could never turn against Creation’s

principles - positivity for cradled creatures -

however gone awry, wandering outwith

the moral compass of ecology - organic

truth of unity, dependency, disguised

by power. Small lords of the planet -

corrupted since the splitting of the Chimpanzee,

the holy gifts of brain and freedom squandered;

even them they could not hate or stop, attack -

because this root love is infinite; and true love

must surpass - eclipsing even self preservation,

as only parents learn with grace, new humility.

What could I do but weep; recycle rain, stars

in my atoms - lay my hand on Earth’s brow.

‘What passes for a realistic attitude in morals commonly means little more than addiction to current habits…When new dangers appear, even very serious dangers (as has happened over the destruction of the environment) the soi-disant realist usually has great difficulty in believing they may actually be real…This kind of ‘realist’ habitually dismisses all long-term views and unfamiliar projects on principle as utopian and is (in particular) systematically convinced at present that all environmental protestors must have got their facts wrong.’ Mary Midgley, Science and Poetry, Routeledge, 2003

Nowhere suitable to land

Hearts absorb Earth’s breath -

whatever we do to our planet,

we do also to ourselves.

Sharing consequences,

until the last golden leaf

browns, trembles, falls -

last flesh returns

to plasticine earth;

final human life upturned

blind, deaf in beds of sand,

puffed from the world

like dandelion seed -

wandering the cold Universe,

with nowhere suitable to land.


The human species has been likened to a plague -

virus poisoning planet Earth, but he is much worse;

a germ is just doing its job - its ruthless purpose,

for which designed; while man has heart and eye,

evidence for his strangely overblown floral brain;

capacity for glory and change, knowledge of love.

‘Another consideration, no less important, concerns our relation to the non-human world on which we depend. Since the Renaissance, most sages in our humanistic tradition, both on the right and the left, have neglected questions about that relation. Natural resources were assumed to be inexhaustible. Neither the fear of natural disaster nor the cautious reverence that goes with it in most societies has found much place in offocial Western thinking since the industrial revolution. This has really been a bizarre tradition. Its effect is that today, when news  continually comes in that these resources are actually failing, we find it simply impossible to take that news seriously. Something beyond the usual unwillingness to accept bad news is surely involved here. The way in which we have been accustomed to think of ourselves as isolated, cerebral units standing above the natural world blocks our understanding of how deeply and directly what goes wrong with that world can concern us. Here I think the recent propoganda for individualism – most notably the sociobiological literature of ‘selfishness’ – is still dangerously distorting people’s perceptions. A quite different imagery is needed to make us grasp realistically that we are actually part of the natural world. I shall suggest that an excellent corrective here is the concept of Gaia – of the world as a self-maintaining whole, comparable to a single organism – a whole within which we, like all other creatures, are involved and play our part.’ Mary Midgely, Science and Poetry 2003

‘The last great task of Feminism, (for the rest we must just keep on wearyingly chipping away) – the last is to fight for the saving and healing of Earth, to draw attention to her plight more forcefully. To get in the face of the world about this - for who could fail to see this vision/metaphor/idea of Earth as a mother concept; a fecund, female concept. And as a wounded entity - wounded body and wounded spirit; her basic principles upset. This destruction we see was done by men, because they have been in charge of the world until now - and there is a sexism, a macho element in the wantonness of this destruction; this arrogant domination of the fertile planet. But it is not up to women alone to heal Earth, but to men and women, because we are all Earth’s children. Science has shown us this now - which might help those who can’t believe anything, or take any action, without the hard stamp of modern science; the mark of factual approval that means we must take this seriously. Genetically, we are all - indisputably - Earth’s children. We are of Earth, from it; we all belong. We are one among many interconnected species – privileged beyond measure; profligate beyond belief. Now is the time we must rise to our task, before Earth cannot recover - however she is envisioned; even as ‘it’, chance happening in space, and all her freaky star-creatures. All her ludicrous, totally dependent human sons and daughters; the whole species of Man, humanity, the beauties of his culture and fostering of love - before it all dies in the awful ruins.’ Gillian Ferguson, The Human Genome: Poems on the Book of Life

The beautiful, lying lake

The lake is a peaceful blue eye;

keeping her dark secrets sunk

under mud, beauty - beguiling

haze. Her sick fish - cancerous

weed, chemical sludge; metals,

mercury and plastic compounds.

Silence is the lights of her creatures

going out; her white lilies, iridescent

minnows, dragonflies - sticklebacks,

newts, singing frogs; her brown trouts,

her necklaces of spring flowers - frost.

She is sterilised mirror, passive to sky.

Like some stupid women, her first useless

duty on this burning summer day is to stay

beautiful, disguised as a gorgeous blue lake;

her shining smile veneer hides lost,

wriggling, living, swimming things - 

leaving her gleaming silver face flat,

expressionless as Bottoxed eyes -

when the rest of the world laughs.

Sudden cloud blinds colluding Sun,

burning her chiffon ozone frocks,

unmasking her beneath the finery

of perfect skin - water-shimmer -

grey - as haggard as a lung patient

smoking; wasted crone, her ancient

systems eroded, defunct, corrupted.

Her eye is solid glass, inorganic;

a polished android replacement,

bright but unseeing under light -

in resounding purple heather beds

she lies - amid dead white broken

reeds, scattered like untidy bones.

The Rowan is wounded

The Rowan is mortally wounded

by the season - luminous blood-

drops squeeze from green fingers,

shooting perfect bullet-holes

in heaven’s immaculate blue

skin; dripping onto black soil.

She has not come to deter witches,

she is done scaring the otherworld,

creatures we made almost extinct -

she is the writing on Nature’s wall -

terrible arboreal symbol; earth bleeds

out through her tubular brown bones,

her reaching arms. Into our deaf

world she is shouting – warning;

a terrible, bleeding green mouth.


It is grief - this feeling when we read

of a last pristine place or that, polluted;

last endangered such and such now barely

hanging on, final so and so has eventually

succumbed - that the ice is melting, sea rising,

our fish and fruit, animals, grain, are poisoned.

So we weep, gnash, because we do not know

what to do; pathetically looking after our own

garden all the better - feeling such dismal love

for the sunset aching in the guilty human heart.

‘Clearly, too, most of us do now think of the human drama as taking place within this larger theatre, not a private stage of its own. The Darwinian perspective on evolution places us firmly in a wider kinship than Descartes or Hobbes ever dreamed of. We know that we belong on this earth. We are not machines or alien beings or disembodied spirits but primates – animals as naturally and incurably dependent on the earthly biosphere as each one of us is dependent on human society. We know that we are members of it and that our technology already commits us to acting in it. By our pollution and our forest-clearances we are already doing so.’ Mary Midgley, Science and Poetry, Routeledge, 2003

‘And the Lord God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.’ Genesis 2, The Bible

‘Yellow River, China - When you live off the land any change in climate can have profound effects. This Tibetan woman used to have a healthy herd of animals to support her family. Now due to the lack of rain and spreading deserts on the Tibetan plateau her income has disappeared. Try telling her that global warming isn't a reality. The Tibetan Plateau is often referred to as the roof of the world, land of high peaks, glaciers and nomadic tribal peoples. The snowy peaks and glaciers are the source of many of Asia's mightiest rivers - the Ganges, Mekong and China's Yellow River. This area is predicted to warm considerably before 2100 due to global warming. The roof of the world is melting, and melting fast.’ Greenpeace, 2005

‘And now the springs and summers which we see,/ Like sons of women after fifty be… For the world’s subtlest immaterial parts/ Feel this consuming wound and age’s darts;/ For the world’s beauty is decayed, or gone…’ John Donne, 1571/2-1631) An Anatomy of the World, the First Anniverserie.

This is the Hour of Earth’s Destruction,

This is the hour of Earth’s destruction -

look to the sky where black night unrolls

her map of stars - where there is death

and darkness; fires, acid, raining rocks,

and lecturing Moon, gorgeous white omen –

listen to her cold stone mouth, bright words;

observe the cool and deathly nature of her light,

where not one flower blooms, or red heart beats.

Here are heralds of Anti-Life; blank spaces

in the garden, struggling remnants of Eden -

Adam is a real bastard, selfish cunt,

who crushed these blue butterflies

whose blood and scale was pure sky,

distilled by Evolution’s ingenuity –

where beauty flew and prospered,

hinged in the world awhile for us.

He killed these little singing birds

whose songs were simple hymns -

wiped out these bees, orchids;

stole their honey and perfume.

Burned, destroyed these trees,

Earth’s symbiotic green lungs;

for what – himself, catching his viral

nature; an infectious, insidious spread,

that should have been as Shepherd, Doctor,

Gardener, Scientist, Farmer, Father, Artist –

Poet, Philosopher, Friend; Kind Citizen,

as Compassionate Human Being, Lover;

and instead is vandal, idiot, penis-brained

fool, who should never have had the keys

to the garden - where mother earth

begat him from eager, creative soil.

What a waste of spirit is man; appalling

vessel, dreadful creature, abomination –

what justice in the ruination of the world -

George Bush survives while the tiger dies;

white leopard flounders on warming hills,

Polar Bear melts into waters of lost snow;

because men cannot change their spots.

With writing scrawled on Earth’s wall,

Man pretends he is illiterate, the scum -

bully, careless caretaker, useless waste

of precious space; pernicious, wicked,

because he is not ignorant, but stupid.

Who is made with wings of an angel

in potentia, but chooses bug, plague,

virus; with knowledge of immortality,

chooses to be grim reaper, destroyer -

not harvester like the ripe old hands of time,

but life-snuffer, harbinger of disaster, woe -

where the green rolls back before his feet,

de-flowered seeds cry out in unmade beds;

willl lie forever like the heartless stones -

until the death of dust that fell from stars;

dead eggs unfurl their last winged hope,

which flies the world, beyond our Sun - 

here is that hour, that time unwritten;

undreamt, unheard of - unimaginable.

‘Even over animals, the legalistic notion of contractual rights works badly. And when we come to such chronic non-litigants as the rain forest and the Antarctic it fails us completely. If duties are essentially contractual, how can we possibly have duties to such entities?… Individualism is bankcrupt of suggestions for dealing with these non-human entities. Yet we now have to deal with them, and promptly… The narrow contractual view…had given rise to a tendentious, reductive notion of rationality itself as essentially the calculation of self interest. This notion is still perpetuated in the language of economics and it surfaces whenever altruistic claims are brought forward in public debate. In particular it furnishes a background which can make it seem flatly impossible for rational people to extend the notion of rights to remote humans or to animals, or to be directly concerned for the environment. There is a real difficulty here because the actual word ‘rights’ does have strong connections with the lawcourts. It easily looks competitive and litigious…They can also only be held by beings who are able in principle to appear and argue their case as litigants in court. Though these requirements are fudged for infants and other incapacitated humans by allowing others to represent them, many people still think this makes it impossible that apes or elephants should have rights. Right-bearers, they feel, need to be standard people directly involved in the political process…They should be fellow citizens of some kind, a requirement which even the best elephant cannot meet. Still less are the Antarctic and the rain forest going to appear as litigants... Responsibility however still remains as a less objectionable word for the claims that animals have on us. It is also quite a convenient one for cases like the Antarctic and the rain forest, for which the word right is in any case less often invoked than value. With this kind of rephrasing, many people find it possible to agree that there are real claims here – ones on which we must actually act – even though there is not, in the legal sense, a right.’ Mary Midgley, Science and Poetry, Routeledge, 2003

Note from the author
exploring the project

    Gene Zoo
    Gene Garden
    Earth Poems
        Mass Extinction
        Nature & Science notes
        Goddess Visions

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