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inquiry, we now have a broad sense of how Earth's dynamic systems are in
constant transformation. The planet itself wobbles; the continents move;
cataclysms come and go; the species appear and disappear; and the ice
visits and departs. Everything ceaselessly changes.
The fact that some version of our species has lived on this planet
through so many changes may give us hope. After all, if we've survived
several previous big swings in the climate, it seems likely we will endure
the challenges to come in the next several centuries. An enormous resil-
ience is our ancient inheritance; it may have arisen precisely so that we
could cope with very rapid, climate-driven shifts to our ecosystems. 142
We may have evolved to handle challenges something like those we'll face
in the coming era. Because of our intelligence and extreme adaptability,
we're a tough species to eradicate. That thought, of course, can hardly
comfort us as individuals; the species will endure even if virtually all of
us are wiped out, even if most people—and most societies—disappear.
But even these reflections scarcely do justice to the full import of
what we face. Our evolutionary history is hardly the proper context for
interpreting the present moment, for this time, rather than merely adapt-
ing to the climate change we face, we will have caused it. As I suggested
earlier, that fact shows how litle we respect the web of life from which
we arose. Neither God nor Darwin, neither creation nor evolution, put us
where we are today; we got here because we violated the limits imposed
on us by the divine command or by our place within living systems. Thus
it is entirely iting that those who wish to honor the divine command,
including Jewish, Catholic, and evangelical Christian leaders, call on us
to do all we can not to contribute to climate change and to act with com-
passion for those who will be most harmed by it. 143
Our actions to this point, however, have placed us in an unprec-
edented position. Over two decades ago, Bill McKibben rightly com-
mented that because of climate change, we were no longer living in what
we could call nature, in a world in which some ecosystems could thrive
without a human imprint. Climate change shapes the conditions of life
for all creatures, which cease as a result to be fully wild. In effect, he sug-
gested, we are witnessing the end of nature. 144 Geologists designate this
fact in their own way: in their view, we are moving from the Holocene
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