thomas m wilson

Colours for Christmas and the Extinction of Experience

December 23rd, 2007


The other day I was out in my garden in the sunshine and noticed that the paperbark tree in my garden has flowers on again.  It must be summer.

It is so easy to forget to renew our connections with the bit of the planet that we live on.  Life gets busy and time goes by.  It happens to most of us.

There are many environmental ills in the world that you and I can’t remedy.  But there is one extinction that we can stop, right now, each one of us.  That is the extinction of experience.  The extinction of the experience of intimacy with the land.

I have recently been reviewing Jules Pretty’s recent book The Earth Only Endures for an American journal Organization and Environment.   Discussing ecoliteracy, our ability to read the species of local life on the land, Pretty uses a range of statistics to show that  that ecoliteracy is lower in richer communities than poorer ones.  He visits the Innu in northern Canada and writes about the rapid extinction of experience their culture is going through with respect to nature.   Reading this I thought of Australia and the massive extinction of Aboriginal experience of the land.  So much knowledge and intimacy is forever gone all over this country.

Here is a test to see how ecoliterate you are.  Could you give a friend directions on how to get to your house using only natural features of the landscape?

Even if I can’t measure up to this level of literacy about my home place, at least I can stop the complete extinction of the experience of nature from my life.  The other day I did this.  Look how vibrantly yellow the banksia flowers are looking in King’s Park at the moment.


Happy Christmas one and all.