Sunday, April 10, 2005

The noble (ignorant, poverty-stricken) savage

Don Boudreaux on harmony with nature:

During our time in Orlando, my family and I visited Sea World. At the manatee exhibit we were shown a brief film whose opening scene showed an American Indian paddling his canoe through pristine waters while the announcer informed the audience that the Indians "lived in harmony with nature."

Of course, the film implies that we moderns don’t live in harmony in nature, and one consequence of our inharmonious existence is the manatees’ near-extinction.

[...]

Pre-Columbian peoples lived simply, to be sure, but let’s stop mistaking ignorance and poverty with harmony.

Heh.

Nature devastated them. Nature battered them into early graves. Their ignorance of nature prevented them from achieving much material wealth. To dance to imaginary rain gods or to chant and pray for a child dying of bacterial infection is not to live harmoniously with nature; it is to live most inharmoniously

[...]

It is we today, with our knowledge of how to irrigate fields using science and engineering, and how to make and administer antibiotics, who live harmoniously with nature. We don't demand miracles. We don't expect nature to change its logic simply because we arrogantly wish it to do so. We accept nature's logic and work with it.

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