Arthur Conan Doyle once stated that the colorful bloom of a flower is simply an extra. The color was beautiful and had no functional reason for being colorful. Botanists argue that the color of the flower attracts specific pollinators which are in turn looking for specific nectar. The argument only minimizes Doyle’s point. Large-brained upright hominids enjoy the bright colors and sweet smells of flowers. What the scientists sees as a biological by product is a source of pleasure to creatures that use the plant for its’ beauty. Human beings intentionally find ways to to reproduce the plants and to breed them to enhance their beauty.
Humans acting for no other reason than the pursuit of pleasure in this way show the biological aesthetic at work. These actions are also in keeping with the biblical command to “till and keep” the earth. Human dominion as opposed to human domination (because humans make decisions that affect all other living things) is the divinely given responsibility to act in ways that preserve life and beauty.
How then should we do these things? Salatin asks the hypothetical question of where would we be now if fossil fuels had been used to build tools that helped give us renewable energy that did not require more oil consumption to make our civilization work. My own question is why not do more of that now? There is no question that our civilization will need energy in order to continue. We should use fossil fuels to build clean energy infrastructures. In fact, this is being done. I believe we could do this in a greater degree and thus minimize long term damage to the biosphere.
The next step in dealing with the technological problems associated with clean energy development is the increased demand for “rare-earth” minerals that are also used in our communication technologies. What are the human and other costs to mining for these minerals? How is civilization to be restructured so that the sin of domination is not practiced thus enslaving individuals and destroying communities? The answers to these questions begin to come to us when we ask ourselves the following question. What do we want to experience?
End Part 2