Category Archives: deforestation

Some Eco-Apocalypse Art

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A picture says a thousand words, and the following art summarizes the path of industrial capitalism. The artist is Markus Vesper and it’s called “Two-Faced World”. The portal door leading from paradise and into an environmental wasteland has tears flowing from its sad eyes, while the portal door that sits in the ravaged world of industrial capitalism has a dollar sign between its demonic eyes. I would say we made a very bad trade. Unfortunately, the doorway allowing for any escape from this self-imposed eco-apocalypse appears by all observable evidence to be firmly shut.

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And I like this next one called “Transience”. Converting nature to dollars is represented by an hourglass where a dying and collapsing environment, which is fast running out of time, ends in the extinction of man (human skulls piling up at the bottom of the hourglass).

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The History of Deforestation

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Deforestation originated from the Fertile Crescent, where civilization first emerged. The forest Journey is an episode of the Epic of Gilgamesh that includes a great understanding of the ecological processes and the consequences of human actions on forests. Enlil, the Sumerian chief, protected the forests by assigning Humbaba- a very strong demigod- the task of protecting the interests of nature against the desires of civilizations. Enlil knew that the unlimited appetite of civilization will remove all the gods’ beautiful garden of trees. On the other side of the story, there was a man called Gilgamesh, the ruler of Uruk- a city-kingdom in southern Mesopotamia that evolved 4,700 years ago. Uruk thought that his immortality can be assured through the material greatness of his city. He wanted large amounts of timber to accomplish his plans, and he set his sight on the cedars of Lebanon, which are a species of pine trees . As a consequence, Gilgamesh and his companions began to “cut the cedars, chopped their branches and trunks into transportable sizes”. A fight erupted between the intruders and the mighty forest demigod. At the end, the greed of civilization won. After that, the Sumerian civilization began to witness the devastating effects of deforestation. Once large quantities of trees were felled near the banks of the upper courses of rivers, salt and silt as well as timber filled the waters, and clogged up the irrigation canals. Also, the southern mountains were eroded. The decline in food products occurred due to the presence of the high salinity. All this has lead to the decline of the Sumerian civilization. The building schemes that sought to strengthen the great empire of Gilgamesh, has enabled the destruction of the civilization.

Reference:  

Masri, R .(1995). “ The Cedars of Lebanon”. The Levant.