Lungs of the earth

March 28, 2018

The rainforest of the Congo basin together with the Amazon forest are sometimes called « the lungs of the earth » for their significant dimensions and their ability to take in carbone dioxide and give out oxygen. By picturing the rainforest as a vital organ, this saying personifies the planet, which becomes a breathing creature.

To understand the involvement of the rainforest in the planetary system, we shall try to think about our own system: the organism. We are a big machine composed of so many organs we can vaguely name and sometime place. We know very little about about it and still, we feel it every second. This extraordinary machine can make us so strong and so vulnerable when ill, injured or simply tired. The human being, despite its capacity of rationalizing, understanding and judging, is sometimes incapable of experiencing its own body as a thing. Although, with a little effort of imagination, we can see ourselves made out of puzzle pieces, part of a greater system.

The awareness of our materiality questions the feeling of superiority that we have on what we consider as things. We perceive the joy of fresh air going in and out our healthy lungs, we perceive the fear of asphyxia on our diseased lungs, we perceive pain, tiredness and relief. But when taken out of the body, all we see is a piece of meat. If this organ and all the puzzle building the human being can so easily become a thing when unplugged from its system, then our ability of feeling may not be enough to make us different than what we commonly call things.

We call a tree a thing, we call a forest a thing. But if we call a human being a thing as well, than the whole hierarchy that our own specie has set can be questioned. If a lung is a lung, independently of it belonging to a person or to a planet, if a lung is a puzzle piece, a thing that has the power to breathe or asphyxiate, then what does this massive deforestation really means?




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