A Borg World: The Death of Nature

The Borg. Superpredators. Even as we boo the villains on the screen, it seems we are becoming them. Carolyn Merchant called it The Death of Nature. Nature — the realm of nativity, of “birth”… dead. It’s the “sixth extinction event”. Civlisation’s war against Wilderness and the realm of birth will be our own self-destruction.

Every day there seems to be a new headline. Just in the last few hours: The seas are in trouble. “Food supply threat from overfishing, study finds” . “Herds in trouble across range: Biologist says only habitat restoration will save species“. “Polar bear births could plummet with climate change”.

A headline in The Independent reads: “The animals vs the people” . It is described as “the battle for protecting wildlife”, but it is far more than that. It’s a battle to protect ourselves from becoming identical with those villains on the TV screen — The Borg — through a process mindlessly called “development” and “civilisation”.

The terms “post-human” or “transhuman” are bandied about to describe the future technocracy. But, in effect, it is envisioned even as a post-biological world. Think about that term. The word “bios” means “life”. A post-biological world must be an anti-biotic world. A post-biological world couldn’t be anything but a sterile and dead world. But we seem well on our way to realising it. Who, in their right minds, wants a post-life world? A dead world?

Indeed, are people in their right minds at all?

James John Bell sums it up in an article “Technotopia and the Death of Nature“. It follows upon a famous article written by Sun Microsystems chief scientist Bill Joy that appeared in Wired Magazine in April, 2000: “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us“.  We seem, presently, well on our way to meeting up with this future.

One of the most interesting things about Bell’s article, though, is the activism of the anti-biotics (I think we are justified in calling them that), already Borg-like in their thinking, which pits them against those we might call “pro-biotic“. As Bell puts it, the anti-biotic forces have targeted groups like Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, or Earth First! — probably others like Sierra Club or Friends of the Earth — for “countering”.

In any event, it seems safe to say that the struggle for the future of life is really between the pro-biotic and anti-biotic tendencies in Late Modernity.

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2 responses to “A Borg World: The Death of Nature”

  1. Sharon Smith says :

    Nothing to add, but just want to say a continuing thank you, Scott, for what you’re doing in this blog.
    Earlier today I put this as my e-mail signature:
    “Limits are the new frontiers.” — Wolfgang Sachs

  2. xraymike79 says :

    Depletion of fossil fuels is what will save other living things from the ‘growth’ of industrial civilization. 2005-2006 is stated by most experts as the peak of world oil production. We are now on the bumpy plateau of peak oil. As the oil price rises, it shoves the economy back down. No more cheap energy to fuel unending growth. Additionally, we are swimming in an ocean of global debt which will never be paid off because we no longer have the cheap energy that would fuel the growth required to pay off that debt. So a hundred years from now our descendants will be living in an energy constrained world whose once-in-a-lifetime legacy of high-density energy, i.e. fossil fuels, was squandered within two centuries, a mere blink of an eye in geological time. Cities will be wastelands for scavenging squandered resources.

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