Internal Combustion Engine Facilitates Deep Love of Nature

What follows is the next excerpt from my book, which can be purchased here in paperback and here on Kindle. The excerpt is from Chapter Three, “A Scandalous Timeout.”

Al Gore is fighting hard to keep the well-lit part of this image bright and the dark part dark. That's the foundation of carbon trading, like it or not.

There are so many ways that my family and I have it good. When one of us is ill, we make an appointment to see a doctor, drive there, get seen, get treated, and commence feeling better – often in a single day. When the weather turns cold, we commence heating the air in our home. When it gets hot, we turn on the AC. Thus, the temperature in the home stays within 5 degrees of 70 about 95 percent of the time. We are blessed.

Do I have to tell you that there are those less fortunate than we? What of the nearly two billion people on the planet who are living without electricity? These are nearly two billion souls that live without the following: refrigerated food, clean water, modern sewage, refrigerated medicine, air conditioning, non-polluting indoor stoves, central heat, the Internet, cell phones, television, radio, recorded music players, washing machines, dishwashers, and microwave ovens. The suffering created by such want is heavy. It also happens to fall disproportionately on women, who must carry water, and perform other heavy domestic tasks in the darkened locales of Africa, Asia, and South America.

Westerners, in the comfort of their clean, well-lighted dens, like to imagine that if they lived in such conditions, there would be something redemptive about it, perhaps drawing upon their recollection of a week spent at a National Park. But the outdoors, experienced without the filter of modern technology, is: hunger, insect bites, filth, disease, stress, and premature death. That is what the great outdoors are waiting to provide anyone who has any illusions about being at one with Nature. With the benefit of modern technology, though, nature suddenly becomes a hauntingly beautiful backdrop to an individual’s emotional theater. But this modern experience of sunsets, sunrises, scenic animals, wide panoramas, and the rest as something sublime, as a thing to be maximized, stems from the deep knowledge within the individual that he is in control of his circumstances. This control itself stems from the fact that, in virtually all cases, the individual traveled to the land of natural glory using the internal combustion engine, in one form or another.

So, the perceived love of transcendent Nature is, in reality, the love of anti-Nature, of the internal combustion engine itself, with the Superman-like power afforded by the automobile and the modern transportation network.

About Harold Ambler

I am a lifelong environmentalist. I started my journalism career at The New Yorker, where I worked as a copy editor. Since then, my own work has appeared in The New York Daily News, The National Review Online, The Atlantic Wire, The Huffington Post, The Berkeley Daily Planet, The Providence Journal, Brown Alumni Monthly, The Narragansett Times, Rhode Island Monthly, and Providence Business News.
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1 Response to Internal Combustion Engine Facilitates Deep Love of Nature

  1. Jerome says:

    I used to suffer from the same malady. I was in love with the idea of ‘living with nature’.

    It did not take me long to realise that we had spent many thousands of years keeping nature further and further away from us, and with very good reason. In nature lives are nasty, brutish and short. Our lives have become comparatively long, leisurely and filled with pleasure (I speak of the most ‘developed’ nations, and we are the ones most developing countries attempt to emulate).

    Coal, and then oil, as abundant cheap energy sources, have greatly enhanced the speed with which we managed to overcome nature. They will continue to do so, I hope.

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