Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Letter from the Editor

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Letter from the Editor

Article excerpt

The artwork that graces the cover of this issue of ETC is from British artist and IGS board member Dom Heffer. The work, titled All the Trash Goes Somewhere, is a whimsically somber painting that poignantly illustrates humanity's rapid destruction of our planet. Heffer's graphic image was also featured on the program cover from the 64th Annual Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture (AKML) held this year in New York City. Serendipitously, at this year's AKML event, author and reporter for the New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert, was honored with the 2014 Samuel I. Hayakawa Book Prize for her work titled The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (published by Holt, 2014).

The opening epigraph of Kolbert's work is from E. O. Wilson: "If there is danger in the human trajectory, it is not so much in the survival of our species as in the fulfillment of the ultimate irony of organic evolution: that in the instant of achieving self-understanding through the mind of man, life has doomed its most beautiful creations" (n.p.). Kolbert goes on to document in great detail the five major mass extinction events that took place over the last 500 million years, each dramatically responsible for suddenly and drastically reducing the world's population of many biological species. However, it's the impending sixth extinction that has Kolbert and others most concerned, for it is an extinction event totally caused by humans. Like Heffer's image of humans drowning in their own garbage, we have continued to pour our pollutants into the environment, literally choking the planet with our effluence and almost ensuring an ecological end for terra firma if massive changes in environmental policies aren't made immediately.

In her concluding comments, Kolbert asks the ultimate question: "In an extinction event of our own making, what happens to us?" (p. 267). The first and seemingly obvious answer is that we shall perish as well. As Kolbert explains, that through our transformation of the ecological landscape by "cutting down tropical rainforests, altering the composition of the atmosphere, acidifying the oceans--we're putting our own survival in danger" (p. …

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