Another, very affecting perspective on the disappearance of species comes from Hayao Miuyazaki, the great maker of animated films. At the climax of his long graphic novel Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind, the heroine confronts a machine programmed to preserve humanity from extinction:

It asks: “Girl, are you saying that efforts to rebuild the world should be abandoned, and humanity left to become extinct?”

She answers: “Your question is laughable. We have lived all these centuries with the sea of corruption. Extinction has long become a part of our lives.”

There is more wisdom in this than the artist probably even knows. Guilt and anxiety about species loss is a reflection of the typically human inability to accept death, not to mention the inevitable extinction of our own species, whenever that will happen. I do not like graphic novels, and have big problems with this one, but Miyazaki’s drawing is very good.

Hayao Miyazaki, page from Nausicaä

Hayao Miyazaki, page from Nausicaä

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