Isolations of Space and Time

I. Invasion

Isn’t every successful species invasive? The history of life on Earth is the history of the relentless, explosive expansion of living things into every imaginable and unimaginable environment, commandeering resources and space competitively, opportunistically, creatively. The evidence is that life will out, no matter what. A larger view of the geologic record reveals a history of changing ecosystems and environments. But in conversations about invasive species the fertile mechanisms of evolution are unacknowledged: process is unseen.

Instead, stasis and equilibrium are presumed values, and we employ spatial and procedural controls to preserve what is. We debate aspects and implications of evolutionary process in an ethical context, demonizing successful species – including ourselves – and idealizing those less well adapted. A more sophisticated position advocates ecosystem protection, claiming that environmental conditions are changing too quickly for some species to accommodate and also that new conditions give invading species an unfair advantage. But ‘victim’ has no meaning in the evolutionary process. Why pick winners and losers? And what does it really mean to preference rates of change? It is not hard to discern undercurrents of misanthropy and xenophobia in these viewpoints, but exceptional thinking is also present.

We are chrono-centric in a way that is akin to pre-Copernican geocentric astronomical understandings. A belief that our moment is the preferred moment in time gives us license to resist change. We attach our resistance to great and noble ideas, like helping unfortunate life forms, saving the planet, and stewarding creation. But this is dishonest. We are simply afraid of change, which is to say, afraid of death. Despite our egotism, the unalterable state of the cosmos is flux. Natural systems change, the Earth is constantly becoming. In geological time, resistance for any reason is futile; resistance for reasons other than our narrow own is dissembling. In this one un-special moment of time we are only protecting who we are now and what we have now, for our own benefit, now.
Ecology is a conservative practice.

What problems would we see, and what solutions if we understood time differently?
How to plan, design for change?


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