Salle Kroonenberg is a Dutch geologist, somewhat of a climate sceptic, but ultimately his thing is less the climate debate as geological time and our inability to fathom its ‘deep’ perspective. This is what he writes in the English translation of the first chapter of his 2006 book De menselijke maat: de aarde over tienduizend jaar :
But even if we are not able to predict what the weather will be like a month from now, we can say with certainty that autumn will follow on summer. And for that we don’t need to know what kind of weather we’ll be having in two weeks or a month. It’s enough to know that there is a larger-scale cyclicity, namely the orbit of the earth around the sun. And this astronomical cycle has also existed for over four and half billion years. So regardless of whether it’s rainy or sunny two weeks from now, autumn will arrive, and it will be followed by winter. The only thing we don’t know is whether it will be a mild or a severe winter.
Haven’t read the book yet and cannot comment on his climate debate position, but he’s obviously correct that we are pretty much stuck with our scale of things. Anything outside that lacks the ability to grab us emotionally. In the blurb about his book on the Dutch Foundation for Literature site Kroonenberg explains ‘I want to show how insignificant humans are’. A stance that resonates with me as I don’t believe we’re the centre of the universe, the reason it exists, or the pinnacle of its development. His motto, a quote from Mark Twain’s essay Was the World Made for Man? is the kinda satire I love:
Man has been here 32,000 years. That it took a hundred million years to prepare the world for him is proof that that is what it was done for. I suppose it is. I dunno. If the Eiffel tower were now representing the worlds age, the skin of paint on the pinnacle-knob at its summit would represent man’s share of that age; and anybody would perceive that that skin was what the tower was built for. I reckon they would. I dunno.
Kroonenberg’s explanation in the blurb continues with ‘We are merely a tiny cog in the works, a factor that can be almost completely discounted.’ Mmmm, that resonates less. I guess I’ll leave that to the climate change buffs. And share another effort to give you some deep time perspective:
The same guys have looked at the ending a bit more careful. There is hope, sort of:
Some might now need some consolation of human scale, sound and life that matters. Enjoy this happy crowd from Cambodia: