Solitude And The Sixth Extinction

Updated: Oct 2

by Georgia Preece

Environment Editor

@theGAPinthelens

"The silence where life once thrived is deafening"

Solitude is: watching as species numbers tumble around you, while yours continue to grow.


It is standing tall in the midst of the sixth wave of mass extinction, mythical progression embedded into the everyday monotony, just enough to distract you from the world falling apart at your feet, until the everyday grinds to a halt.


For the first time you fear for your own life, for your families, the immediate threat of a pandemic draws into focus the reality of our own fragility, and that of the world around you. Statistics of critical species pile up, and up, and up…on top of the fragile shoulders of teenage warriors.


Solitude is screaming for your survival to be silenced by never ending Brexit news, Donald Trump tweets and the latest Forbes list of billionaires. It’s the isolating feeling of climate grief, of family arguments and being labeled an extremist for environmental activism. It’s learning that love thy neighbour only ever applied when your neighbour looked like you. It’s the realisation that if the Tories are willing to sacrifice the lives of the working class to a pandemic, then what hope do you have when you come face to face with the biggest fight on our hands?


It’s wondering if the dinosaurs ever understood their impending doom, if they watched as meteors tore through clouds. If they waited, awe struck, dazed by the sublime of it all, or if they hid in fear, hoping shelter would be enough. It’s questioning if the Orangutan understands the weight of her fate. I really hope they don’t… I cannot even imagine the trauma of a baby clinging to its dead mother’s corpse, after human thirst for palm oil burns their home down around them. Do the elders remember a time when they thrived, when the rainforests they had to roam stretched out for miles either side? Now claustrophobic borders edge inwards, birdsong obscured by machinery. The silence where life once thrived is deafening.

Related: What happened after 'Virunga'?

Does the Mountain Gorilla look at his mate in awe, simply because she is one of only a few left alive? 440lb of fragility pressed under the thumb of poaching and habitat destruction. How beautiful she is, for simply daring to still exist, in a world that makes it so difficult for her to live. A world that thinks she is more beautiful for her meat than roaming in the wild, sees her as a trespasser in her own home.


Does the blue whale look up, remembering a time when the sun diving through the surface of the ocean wasn’t obscured by constant traffic of ships? Do they struggle as the water gets warmer, feel the knot of plastic bags and fishing wire edging down their throat? Do they notice the shifting colours of coral, the dwindling numbers of fish species around them, remember a time when the oceans were thriving?


Solitude is man’s disconnect from nature. It’s climbing to the top of the scaffold, feeling it tremble beneath your feet, looking over the edge and realising you have climbed too high. Scrambling to reconnect with the foundations to realise it's too late. Solitude is distance that spans beyond two meters, it’s a crowded room, an empty rainforest, it’s the crumbling facade of progress, revealing our raw animal vulnerability.


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Georgia Preece is the Environment Editor of the Radical Art Review. Follow her on Twitter


The Radical Art Review is a non-profit cooperative platform fuelled purely by people power for those who think art holds the potential for social transformation. We publish the thoughts, philosophies, and stories of all who dare to dissent. We seek to inform, to empower, and to dream collectively of a better tomorrow.

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