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We're Just Following Orders

November 12, 1989

Re: David Graber's review of Bill McKibben's "The End of Nature" (Book Review, Oct. 22): Man's greenhouse has in no way "ended" nature. As Graber says, "There is no chalk line between man and nature" because we are born of the Earth, not deposited here from the outside. Everything we do or think, therefore, is by definition "natural." A man-made greenhouse is every bit as natural as a beaver-made dam or a chimp-made tool. If we are a cancer, as Graber says, it is a natural cancer, one that was programmed into Earth's genetic system from the beginning and is now being triggered--5 billion cells and escalating. We aren't responsible. The Creator is. We're just following orders, just executing the game plan. And if man somehow manages to reverse or mitigate human toxicity, that, too, will lie at the Creator's feet, not ours. We may or not be an "evil" force, but we are, ultimately, as natural and innocent as any other dumb animal.

Rather than a cancer (which I used to believe, too), I tend to see humanity more as a global wilderness fire, an agent of mass extinction, which is clearing the way so evolution can begin a major new chapter. Without question, the Creator is a phenomenal scientist/mathematician/artist. Just not necessarily a nice guy.

BILL SCHONL, LOS ANGELES

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