The wealth of nature

The post heading is the title of a book by Donald Worster.[1] It is about the relationship between humans and the planet. In a sentence in the book, he says, “We are not of this planet.” Nevertheless, Mr. Worster lives in a romantic relationship with unspoiled nature, its beauty, balance and environmental discipline. He opens his book with several descriptions of the completeness that can be had while experiencing nature unimposed by human disruption.

However, the book describes how humans continually find ways to avoid their responsibility as a member of the planet’s ecosystem. He does not write negatively, as mariner and his cohort Amos might, his words reflect hope that as nature becomes consumed beyond human sustainability, humans will find relief in becoming part of nature’s reality; they will return to a relationship of respect “where wolves can be heard howling in the night.”

Humans found a way to fly even though they do not have wings. The impersonation of birds is grotesquely expensive to nature. This is a clear metaphor for how humans consume the environment for self-gratification but without allegiance to the natural world.

Mr. Worster ends the book with the hope that circumstances will balance the relationship between humans and the planet. Unfortunately for Mr. Worster, this book was published in 1993 before the next step to avoid a natural existence became notable – artificial intelligence.

Despite his negative and bitching style, mariner is at heart a romantic and a humanist. Reading this book was both romantically pleasing and depressing at the same time. Donald Worster speaks to mariner’s dream that one day mariner will replace his automobile with two ponies and a cart.

Ancient Mariner


[1] The Wealth of Nature by  Donald Worster, 1993, Oxford Press ISBN 0-19-507624-9

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