Love to Death

Love is a powerful emotion. It makes us forsake all reason and act quite irrationally. At one time we reserved its usage only for strong, passionate feelings one person has for another person. Now though we can also ‘love to read’ or ‘love to eat’. Yet we can probably take these statements as meaning an action done for pleasure even though other actions may have led to more and better results. Yes, it is safe to say that love means being irrational.

Let’s showcase love by our interaction with the Great Auk. This bird lived in the north Atlantic. We loved to use its feathery down to make soft pillows. We loved to eat its chicken like meat. We loved to use its body parts for baiting fish. We loved it so much that it became extinct. It must have been love as no rational person would knowingly remove such a valuable, useful member of the ecosystem. Could we have loved it to death?

The Great Auk may help us understand love. Further help may come from a current symbol of love; this is chocolate made from the cocoa bean. Yes we love chocolate. We love it to the tune of harvesting over 5 million tonnes of cocoa beans in a year. Using rough estimates we calculate that over 17 million hectares of land have been cleared for dedicated cocoa agriculture. That’s land that’s probably with the greatest ecosystem potential. This is because the cocoa plant, originally from South America, needs very particular growing conditions. Today, due to human intervention, the cocoa plant is predominantly grown in Africa. But with ongoing environmental changes it may die out there and everywhere else in the world. Concern for its survival is so great that we plant to modifying the genes of the cocoa plant so that it can keep growing. And we can continue loving its produce. Do you wonder what the Great Auk might have thought of this plan?

How much do we love our planet Earth as it is today? As it was? If we use all the available energy resources and we love much of the ecosystem to death then what? If we use large amounts of energy to replace nature with genetic modifications then what does this say about the future? What will our love make of our planet in the future?