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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Urban Forest

Johannesburg may have a bad reputation (murder, theft, drugs, forced prostitution, corruption, traffic, poverty, and all other things nice) and may have no natural attractions (unlike other cities in the world, Joburg was not located near a waterway, mountain range, etc.), but it does have nice trees. Lots of nice trees. So much so that I've been told that it is the world's largest artificial forest. True or not, there's still a lot of trees. From any high point outside of the city centre, one can look around and see houses and buildings poking up in a carpet of green. Pretty amazing for a place that used to be (100 years or so ago) grassland.

Sometimes, when I've had a bad day, I take a walk around and sit under some trees. Maybe its the shade, maybe its the extra oxygen, whatever, makes me feel a little bit better. Sort of like getting a hug.

One more reason why we should stop remorselessly covering our surrounds with concrete and tarmac. Come on. When was the last time you saw a good looking, thirty year-old piece of concrete?

Environmentalism (more of a respect for nature) was one of the entrance points into anarchist thinking for me. Taking a good, hard look at the way we interact with nature leads to serious questions about the intelligence of the human species. We consume and consume, killing, burning, plowing and poisoning, with scant regard to the future. We are eradicating fish stocks, acting like a typical shifting predator; once we've consumed one resource, we shift to another and, when that's gone, we'll find something else, never once doubting our actions.

Hardly intelligent behaviour, is it?

And, just maybe, our form of social organisation (a form of social organisation that seems to encourage and sponsor unbounded resource extraction) is not the smartest way of doing things, let alone the most ethical.

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