Guardian Weekly Weekly.letters@theguardian.com 7th September 2016 Steven Poole’s thoughtful essay, Does it matter if Google is rewiring our minds (26 August), triggered multiple synapses, dendricities and detours in my biome. It reinforced my visceral dislike of the on-line universe which I visit only when I must. I fiercely resist its colonising of all aspects of our lives, and despair over the ecocidal costs it externalises onto the Earth whose wellbeing is inextricable from our own. I don’t know if this makes me an elderly Luddite or a canary in the mine. David Abrams, in his splendid and seminal book The Spell of the Sensuous, asks how we have become so estranged from non-humankind (8 billion species and counting) that our discourse is unquestioningly predicated on enslaving and reifying the biosphere, drowns out all non-anthropocentric voices, and has forgotten ‘our carnal inherence in a more-than-human matrix of sensations and sensibilities’. He postulates that it was the development of the written word that first displaced this inherence, and sundered us from reciprocity and kinship with ‘the wild and multiplicitous other’. I would argue that in allowing technology to rewire, mediate and define our experience, we’re not just further selling our souls and birthrights, but terminally turning our backs on an ecological literacy and wisdom essential to our survival. All of us – microscopic diatoms, great whales, Huon pines, sea eagles – arose from stardust. The blood in our veins differs by just one element (iron as opposed to magnesium) from the chlorophyll that animates green and lifegiving fecundity. We are the trees breathing, the rocks dancing. And as the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh says, ‘What we need in our time is to hear within us the sounds of the earth crying’. Annie March

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‘..the sounds of the earth, weeping…’

 

Weekly.letters@theguardian.com

7th September 2016

Dear gentleperson

Steven Poole’s thoughtful essay, Does it matter if Google is rewiring our minds (26 August), triggered multiple synapses, dendricities and detours in my biome.

It reinforced my visceral dislike of the on-line universe which I visit only when I must, fiercely resist its colonising of all aspects of our lives, and despair over the ecocidal costs it externalises onto the Earth whose wellbeing is inextricable from our own. I don’t know if this makes me an elderly Luddite or a canary in the mine.

David Abrams, in his splendid and seminal book The Spell of the Sensuous, asks how we have become so estranged from non-humankind (8 billion species and counting) that our discourse is unquestioningly predicated on enslaving and reifying the biosphere, drowns out all voices but the anthropocentric, and has forgotten ‘our carnal inherence in a more-than-human matrix of sensations and sensibilities’. He postulates that it was the development of the written word that first displaced this inherence, and sundered us from reciprocity and kinship with ‘the wild and multiplicitous other’.

I would argue that in allowing technology to rewire, mediate and define our experience, we’re not just further selling our souls and birthrights, but terminally turning our backs on an ecological literacy and wisdom essential to our survival. All of us – microscopic diatoms, great whales, Huon pines, sea eagles – arose from stardust. The blood in our veins differs by just one element (iron as opposed to magnesium) from the chlorophyll that animates green and lifegiving fecundity. We are the trees breathing, the rocks dancing. And as the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh says, ‘What we need in our time is to hear within us the sounds of the earth crying’.

Peace be springfully with you all

Annie March

(published)

 

 

Tweeting while Rome burns?

 

weekly.letters@theguardian.com

27th May 2016

Dear gentleperson

I’m troubled by some omissions in Suzanne Moore’s enjoyably feisty article (Social media may cause anxiety but it is simply unrealistic to expect people to go without, 20 May).

First, those of us who don’t particularly like the internet, find ourselves increasingly force-fed with it. I resist having my options usurped in this fundamentalist way.

Second, there’s a huge environmental downside to the digital age. The raw materials for our endlessly proliferating, continually outdated then trashed gadgetry have heavy ecological impacts on their place of origin, often countries with minimal protection for labour or the environment. Interpol estimates that a third of shipping containers leaving Europe are laden with electronic waste, which is traded by criminal consortia and illegally dumped in the developing world, where it leaches long-term toxins into air, soil and water.

Third, research on the effects on human health of the tidal wave of electro-magnetic radiation, generated by WiFi and mobile phones, that we are all willy-nilly subjected to, is scarifying. Studies show exposure can cause brain tumours, alter endocrine and cardiac function, damage free radicals, reduce sperm counts and scramble brain function. Is this the nicotine and asbestos of the 21st century? Does tweeting cause Rome to burn?

The digital revolution, like its industrial counterpart, is a house built on sand, on lies. On the one hand it has transformed communication; on the other, it embodies a massive communication failure, since it externalises its ecocidal costs, its excrement, onto ecosystems on whose wellbeing our own depends; onto less entitled humans; and onto the future, an intensely personal place sheltering my small grandchildren.

The digital age, which simultaneously bypasses and destroys the biosphere, may be smart but is it wise? Like the man in the Sufi tale who persists in searching under the streetlight for his key, rather than in the dark where he dropped it, are we looking for answers in the wrong place? Ecologist Eugene Odum wrote; “There is more information of a higher order of sophistication and complexity stored in a few square yards of forest than in all the libraries of mankind…information that has been flowing for millions of years.”    Is this why I opt out of the internet, and into my garden, this small patch of earth I tend in its wild, wise, weedy, evolving, intricate, blooming glory?

Peace be earthily with you

Annie March

(Published)

 

 

cloud-cuckoo land

 

weekly.letters@theguardian.com

4th February 2016

Dear gentleperson

What cloud-cuckoo-land do economists inhabit? Larry Elliott’s article, Ready for another revolution? (29 January) is just the emperor pretending he’s not wearing the same old nakedness. His Industrial Revolution 4.0 – based on driverless cars, 3D printing, smart robotics – ignores the fact that untrammelled industrial and technological growth are not only primary drivers of climate change and environmental devastation, but are cannibalising and debauching our entire planetary life-support system.

Earth’s wellbeing, hence our own, depends on the resilience of an intricate web of interlocking, inter-active ecosystems; healthy freshwater and marine environments, abundant native forests, robust phosphorus and nitrogen cycles, rich biodiversity, ozone health, pollination, climate equilibrium, clean air, rich soil. At least four of these systems – climate, biodiversity (the sixth great extinction is grievously underway), nitrogen and oceans – are already tipping into irreversible, anthropogenic damage. The others are radically frayed and eroding.

Ecology is the study, economy is the law, of the household. The real revolution would be the marriage of these currently opposing poles, the creation of an economic paradigm – ecozoic, ecocratic? – rooted in moral, social and ecological accountability, and mandated with bequeathing a fecund, thriving, exquisitely beautiful planet to our children; to all our children – whale calves, spawning tadpoles, sapling oaks, human babies, fledgling eagles. Amen

Peace be doughtily with you all

Annie March

(Published)

stellar peace?

Reply, Guardian Weekly, December 28th 2015

Dear gentleperson – I agree with Matthew d’Ancona that myth is crucial to humankind (Every era needs its myth cycle and Star Wars is ours, as captivating in its imagery as Homer retold around the campfires). The vast omission, not just from his article but from virtually all myths and scriptures, is women. So this otherwise vivid and excellent piece of writing in fact aborts half the story, and reinforces a toxic cultural paradigm in which 51 per cent of the human race are invisible, ancillary or victims.

The litany of threats to our survival as a species – climate change, ecological destruction, fundamentalist economics, rabid consumption, over-population, war – arises largely from an overweeningly patriarchal narrative. What we desperately need are new myths and visions in which women, the biosphere with its 8 billion non-human species, and men, are co-valent.

Star Wars is for the dinosaurs. How might we gestate fierce, loving, radical, stellar peace?
Annie March

Published January 2016

phytoplankton

weekly.letters@theguardian.com

Thank you for your succinctly scarifying editorial on anthropogenic threats to marine wellbeing (We should care more and invest more, 14 August). One of the issues raised, ocean acidification driven by rising levels of atmospheric carbon, threatens not just visible species like shellfish and coral, but microscopic phytoplankton or diatoms, single-celled algae so small a million dwell in a litre of seawater.

There are more than 10,000 species of diatom, each as exquisitely and diversely patterned as snowflakes. They generate half Earth’s oxygen – every second breath we draw is their gift – catalyse cloud formation hence weather, are a major carbon sink, and the lynchpin of the marine foodchain. Phytoplankton cannot form skeletons in acidifying oceans; we are sabotaging a vast, powerful, invisible ecosystem on whose health our own depends. A biospheric matrix is dying. The angels weep.

Annie March

Published 4th September 2015

language violated

Reply

Guardian Weekly

weekly.letters@theguardian.com

27th March 2015

Dear gentleperson

I can’t believe the violation of language in your front page headline, Iran returns to the great game (20 March). Relationships based on war and the politics of violating power are neither great nor a game; they’re a pusillanimous, toxic, fundamentalist, psychopathic, testosterone-driven, murderous lie.

Peace be fiercely with you

Annie March

Not published