This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

The environment

“I can have no confidence in places where the air is first fouled and then cleansed, where the water is first made deadly and then made safe with other poisons.”

~ Thomas Merton

“The way humanity treats the environment influences the way it treats itself, and vice versa.”

~ Pope Benedict XVI

The debate about climate change has got it all wrong—both sides. It’s wrong in every way.

The basic question, as it is put before us, is about whether or not man is capable of destroying the earth and with it his own species. One side argues that man can in fact do this by exhausting the earth’s resources and natural balance, and concludes therefore that we need to protect the environment if for no other reason than self-preservation. The other side seems to think that man does not wield that kind of power, at least not yet, and so we can continue to do whatever we will without thought of limits or concern for consequence.

Isn’t the whole spirit of this argument is disturbing?

We should not need to be convinced that the earth is certainly going to die before we try to keep it beautiful. I shouldn’t need to have it statistically proven to me that a species is going extinct before I give consideration to its flourishing. There should be some appreciation for beauty, life, harmony, and balance, within me that drives me to care for the earth in such a way that the question of its extinction never comes up. A civilization that has to be convinced that extinction is immanent before they will act as ministers to their own garden is already lost.

Think about the madness of it all. I do not clean my kitchen just because the failure to do so will result in disease and death. I do it because a clean living space is more attractive and brings me a sense of peace and order.

I don’t abstain from littering because I think I’m going to kill all the animals on the side of the road with my trash. I don’t need to think about that at all. I choose not to litter because it would feel like leaving food to decompose on my furniture. It’s childish and sloppy. It probably isn’t going to kill anyone, but that isn’t the point. I’m not two years old.

But that’s what the debate about global warming sounds like to my ears. It is a debate between two-year-olds who absolutely must have proof that the world is ending before they will clean up their rooms. It’s embarrassing.

The ecological problem is not a problem of carbon emissions, soil depletion, and habitat destruction. Those are all involved, but they are accidental and secondary. The real problem is that we have become a civilization that places no value on beauty, limits, life, and harmony; we can only value utility, production, and base pleasure.

I cannot say that the science is valid or invalid—I’m agnostic about global warming. I know only this: whether or not the water levels in the ocean are rising or falling, I’d prefer that the beach not be covered with filth. Whether or not the temperature of the water changing, I’d prefer it be filled with a wonderful variety of life. I like gardens, forests, clean rivers, and pastures.

Whichever side wins this whole global warming debate, it is a loss for us, because it is a loss for beauty. It will prove that only an argument based on utility, or on the threat of death, can get anything done. It will show me that those things I value most are, to my society, not considered worthy causes for action.

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