Tag Archives: evolution

stefano mancuso, standing up for plants

Plants are way smarter than humans give them credit for being…

Here’s a cool, thoughtful video from the very cool TED program that I was first pointed out to me courtesy of a link sent out by International Carnivorous Plant Society. (Yes, there are a couple shots of a Venus flytrap.)

You can select subtitling into any of ten languages in case you’d like to catch every word Stefano Mancuso, one of the founders of plant neurobiology, has to say. Part of his message: Genesis got it all wrong, but then so did Aristotle.

(An aside: I’ve written at least once about pronouncing scientific Latin names. Listen to how Mancuso pronounces the Latin name of California’s own giant sequoia, Sequoiadendron giganteum at the 3:51 mark. If there’s any country that can lay claim to even begin to pronounce Latin correctly it’s gotta be Italy, and the way the name comes out sounding has almost nothing to do with how I’m used to hearing it. Of course the word “Sequoia” originates on this side of the pond, so this is a puzzle with no real answer–the most interesting kind!)

those arrogant humans…

Are gardeners more humble people? Do we know things a lot of others don’t or believe in things others choose not to believe? Here are a couple thoughts for Earth Day, the first one a soft feather bed of a quote, the second one a bed of nails.

Human beings–any one of us, and our species as a whole–are not all-important, not at the center of the world. That is the one essential piece of information, the one great secret, offered by any encounter with the woods or the mountains or the ocean or any wilderness or chunk of nature or patch of night sky.–Bill McKibben in an interview with Susan Salter Reynolds, in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, April 13.

If wildlife species are to become extinct, that will be regrettable. But any literate person knows that extinction is the way of evolution, and is in the fundamental flow of life. However, man is different. If man is not immortal, then there is no purpose or meaning in his existence. Which in turn would mean no purpose or meaning in the universe. The human immortality imperative is absolute and radical. That is why wildlife conservation has never been permitted to move to the questions of ultimate value. There is no place for an ultimate nonhuman value in our western metaphysics, because of necessity, the human interest is the cosmic interest. That is what it is all about. Wildlife is an “externality.” — John. A. Livingston in The Fallacy of Wildlife Conservation, in The John A. Livingston Reader (2007: 101).