I spend part of my summer in the Chausey archipelago off the west coast of France. In winter, it is inhabited only by sea birds and rats and half a dozen men; in summer, by herds of holiday-makers and boating people.
Last summer we had an argument with some kids, 12 to 14 years old, who had been camping on a tiny rocky island. They came back and proudly told us how they had captured rats in cages, soaked them with petrol, ignited them and let them run free. We told them they were criminals. They told us that rats were rats and ate the food they had brought in. We kept returning to natural rights and morals, each of us trembling with contradictory feelings, commitments and knowledge.
They were not criminals, we were not saints.
My personal conviction is that till now man has been both a natural killer and a natural beautifier. It is not enough to say that we are ecologists, nature lovers, advocates of good feelings, pantheist poets. As ecologists, we must know that we are a plague on planet Earth, and that we are going to proliferate up to the point of destroying our own species.
To get out of this lethal trap we have only one chance.
We do not need more technical contraptions, more scientific discoveries.
We need to reach another level of consciousness.
Alain Hervé is the founder of Les Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth, France).