A book with a strong environmental protection color, “The Floating Shore: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait” has a wide enough horizon and time span. And it is commendable to compare the history of environmental changes in the Bering Strait under the two systems of the United States and the former Soviet Union, which have almost the same goal. indicators for the completion of the plan.
Historically, this refreshing and gratifying narrative of “poetry and distance” has never been too weak in the face of the progressive historical view and the logic of capital. This has been proven time and time again.
The author’s ambition is large enough to achieve a closer and organic integration of human history and environmental history. His methodology and expression tools are to incorporate the ecological changes of the entire Bering Strait into a long-term systematic perspective, not only limited to whale oil, Seal fur, walrus ivory and other items are traded, and they are included in the so-called energy conversion chain, so that the transformational connection between human society and the environment is more “natural”, and it can better integrate the similarities in “The Legend of the Bear”. This is a cultural metaphor that believes that both the form and the soul between animals and people can be transformed and cycled, and better incorporated into the cultural narrative of environmental protection. At the same time, through the discourse of energy conversion, the problem of how to make more modern mineral and energy resource development and relatively pre-modern animal resource hunting compatible with the same discourse system is also better solved, although this “compatible” effort Somewhat reluctantly, it is better to return to a more traditional capital value chain, which is more explanatory and inclusive.
Furthermore, the authors eschew the outsider perspective common to similar environmental books. The aborigines are not at a loss for words. The author’s long-term life experience in the Bering Land Bridge area has made her an insider who can speak for the aborigines more effectively, rather than a compassionate and compassionate perspective from the outside. The self-consciousness caused by this perspective Or an unconscious condescending feeling that is often hypocritical.
As expected, in the author’s eyes, a sustainable energy transfer between humans, animals and the environment like the one in “Bear Tale” is preferable. This can easily resonate with Chinese readers who are falling into nostalgia for the rural life of the past and yearning for the intention of “poetry and distance”.
Of course, upon closer inspection, this idyllic narrative is inevitably too glorified and exalted. Whether it is based on the length of life and quality of life of the population, or the ability to respond to challenges from the external environment, including natural disasters and epidemics, these common Measured by standards, similar descriptions and advocacy are largely unconvincing for most people. In addition, the so-called conservation of energy conversion is to some extent a retrospective from a modern perspective. The aborigines or hunters who are involved may not necessarily have such a consciousness, and that low-level sustainability is very important to modern people (except for those who are highly morally conscious and environmentally friendly). How attractive is the sentimental ascetic character), the answer is self-evident: the poetry of the distance needs to be saved, and the convenience around you cannot be given up.
Historically, this refreshing and gratifying “poetry and distance” narrative has never been too weak in the face of the progressive historical view and the logic of capital in the past. And the slaughter of creatures such as bison has proven this time and time again. Even today, when people realize the importance of environmental protection, the environmental protection narrative will inevitably be seen as too high, too inhumane, and even full of conspiracy: how to allocate the cost and cost of environmental protection? Those countries and regions that pay more attention to environmental protection are almost all developed economies, and they also have many unenvironmental and even inhumane and even bloody pasts. In a grand sense, human society and even the entire biological world are a community with a shared future, but in daily life, people are in different economic and social systems and at different stages of development. The hypocrisy of the forerunners will undoubtedly make people in later developing regions feel outraged. The former Soviet Union has long been brooding about the European and American vigorous efforts to promote international bans and restrictions on fishing resources.
If the changes in the ecological environment are viewed more from the value conversion chain driven by capital, the dynamic logic of history will be more clear at a glance. Once everything in the world is brought into the vision of capital and enters the value conversion chain, it can generate value, and the value can cover and exceed the cost. All kinds of value conversion behaviors are blessed by ideologies such as transforming nature, improving human well-being, and conferring civilization on “primitive” communities.
Compared with the pusher of capital, the progressive view of history is obviously more difficult to decipher. From this dimension, the author’s comparative interpretation of people’s environmental transformation under different social systems on both sides of the Bering Strait is more enlightening and more valuable.
The environmental history of the Bering Strait suggests that Soviet-style socialism and American-style capitalism may not be all that different in the face of nature. On the surface, the former emphasizes the scientific nature of the plan in order to avoid the greed of capital and the disorder of the market. The latter seems to be more rational because it emphasizes the effective demand of the market, but in fact, more often it mainly follows the law of value. As long as there is a surplus, it will let go and work hard. Even if environmental protection considerations are included, it is more based on “cost”. angle of departure. The transformation of nature according to the ideal mode in their minds, the discipline of the aborigines exuding primitive atmosphere, and the attempt to domesticate prey on a large scale, etc., have similar tastes.
This makes people feel that the driving force behind history is indeed the desire to achieve progress in the name of civilization, and the conquest of nature and man himself to satisfy this desire.
Those places with insufficient historical momentum, such as the Bering Strait, are difficult to generate historical strength under the banner of “productivity improvement”, and can only resign in the face of the torrent of capital and scientific imperialism. When people realize the importance of environmental protection, most of the times have changed, and all kinds of ecology and the culture attached to it have been turned into dust and smoke.
Therefore, reading the whole book does not give people a sense of enlightenment, but makes people feel that perhaps environmental protection is a philosophical issue in the final analysis. Human beings must first understand what the meaning of their own existence is. If it is the improvement of the well-being of all human beings , how to quantify the completeness and sustainability of the environment and the improvement of specific welfare in this well-being, and so on. As a particularly dynamic factor in the environment and ecosystem, human society has been interacting with the environment, achieving technological breakthroughs, and improving the ability to shape the environment to a terrifying degree. This kind of “progress”, Is the prospect of transformation, and possibly destruction, part of the system it should be?
If not, is there a way back for humanity? If so, to which stage do we need to go back, and do we want to obliterate all the transformation that human beings have done to nature so far? In the end, this may be another unsolved philosophical proposition.