The Earth Does Not Care

Reading Peter Frankopan’s “The Earth Transformed” and while I should be reading it now instead of writing this blog post, I felt compelled to write.

First off, avoid the audio book. It’s narrated by the author, and I listened to two chapters I think (plus the Introduction; so three chapters really) and it was painful. I don’t think Peter Frankopan is at home reading a book. I’ve heard him on podcasts and he speaks great, so I was hoping the audiobook would be similarly amazing, but it just was not. On the contrary, it was a very jarring experience – maybe it was just a bad recording, but it felt like he kept pausing and the whole thing was very unnatural for want of a better word.

Thankfully I decided to skip the audiobook and wen’t ahead and purchased the book itself. Not cheap, mind you, and being a relatively new book there aren’t any less expensive used copies either.

Anyways, I completed the Introduction and am into the first chapter. What I really wanted to note by way of this blog post is that one thing the book made me realize is that the Earth does not care. We keep talking about saving our planet, saving Mother Earth, protecting her, etc… but Mother Earth doesn’t care. The climate has been terrible in the past, it surely will get terrible in the future; it has gotten better in the past, it will most likely get better in the future; but none of that is for the benefit of the inhabitants of the planet. It is in our (humanity’s) interests that the climate be stable, not the Earth’s. And yes, that’s quite obvious, but I felt that framing it in this way is more powerful than how we usually talk about it. And that’s what Peter Frankopan too is trying to do with this book – or at least in the few chapters I have listened to so far. When things go bad, it will get tough for humans. Possibly we’ll go extinct or evolve; maybe some other better adapted species will survive. All we are really doing by messing up the climate is changing the rules of the game, of the competition of survival of the fittest.

It’s good to remember that. And probably not much point to remembering it either because we can’t think that far away into the future. Just don’t sugar coat it as if we are trying to be nice and doing things to save Earth or its water and air. The Earth Does Not Care. 🙂

Update (29th May 2023): Loving this book so far. I like the way Peter Frankopan is looking at history through the lens of climate. This is my first experience with such an approach and its interesting. My only criticism, if anything, would be that I wish he explained some of the stuff a bit more. At least a brief explanation of sorts. For instance, he talks about El Niño-Southern Oscillation as if that’s something one would just know (and maybe most people do)… but I didn’t have much of a clue to begin with. Similarly he talks about genetic changes or mitochondrial DNA without really going into the details, so one is left without a “feel” for things as to the significance of what he talking about. I suppose he can’t go into much details – even one level deep – as that would make an already large book humongous, but also it’s not an area of expertise for him?

A really great thing about the book – so far at least (I am at the beginning of chapter 4) – is that he’s not preachy at all. He gives the facts, the influence of climate on people, plants, and animals… and leaves it at that. I was half expecting each chapter to contain dire warnings about how climate changes are going to spell doom and gloom for us in the future, and was relieved to see it’s not like that.