Excerpts from the final essay of Gary Snyder’s book The Practice of the Wild (1990). The essay’s title is “Survival and Sacrament.”
It’s not that I agree or disagree with everything written by Mr. Snyder, but rather something in these snippets poked at me. While reading, I frowned and I chuckled. I was surprised, hopeful and somber after reading this book and I look forward to discussing it with my daughter, who is also reading it as part of our 2-person book club!
“It is said that about a million and a half species of animals and plants have been scientifically described, and that there are anywhere from ten to thirty million species of organisms on earth. Over half of all the species on earth are thought to live in the moist tropical forests (Wilson, 1989, 108). About half of those forests, in Asia, Africa, and South America, are already gone. (At the same time there are seven million homeless children on the streets of Brazil. Are vanishing trees being reborn as unwanted children?) A clearcut or even a mile-wide strip-mine pit will heal in geological time. The extinction of a species, each one a pilgrim of four billion years of evolution, is an irreversible loss. The ending of the lines of so many creatures with whom we have traveled this far is an occasion of profound sorrow and grief. Death can be accepted and to some degree transformed. But the loss of lineages and all their future young is not something to accept. It must be rigorously and intelligently resisted.”