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Noah’s warning

Posted April. 08, 2014 03:01,   


Darren Aronofsky’s new film “Noah” is stirring controversy over the distortion of the Bible. Although the motif is from the Genesis, it is a different story. The point in this controversy is that Noah in the film tries to kill his twin granddaughters who were born in his ark in order to fulfill the Creator’s will of removing corrupt human beings. From today’s perspective, Noah in the film seems to be an eco-fundamentalist, rather than the agent of God.

Are human beings the only ones that are superior and nobler than other creatures? Aronofsky is not the first one who thinks that a world without human beings would be better. “The World without Us,” authored by Alan Weisman, a U.S. journalist, is a book based on his media coverage across the globe with his imagination. According to the book, the ecosystem of the earth begins to recover in a few months after human beings disappear. He describes the marvel of nature untouched by human beings in the demilitarized zone on the Korean Peninsula.

In a world without people, the attack of water starts first like a deluge. Rainfall and underground water penetrate into the structures made by human beings and start impair and erode them. A year later, electricity is blocked and this gives lives to one billion birds, which used to die after striking high-tension wires each year. When human beings disappear, the first one to disappear is cockroaches that lived in a warm environment made by people. Two decades later, steel pillars that used to support overpasses start erosion and bend, and North and South Americas are merged after the Panama Canal is blocked. Dams collapse and cities submerge.

Aronofsky and Weisman try to warn human beings who are at the top of the food chain. It takes 100,000 years to lower the level of carbon dioxide below the pre-human era in a world without human beings, but it takes more than one million years to lower radioactivity from spent fuels to the natural level. It makes us think how destructively human beings consume natural resources and how dangerously modern science and technology is hanging in the balance.

It is inevitable for human beings to consume resources for survival. What Tubal-Cain in the movie says seems quite convincing. He says that they are just repeating what their father and fathers did, and asks why Noah is trying to abandon them. This is acceptable only when the ecosystem is not ruined. If the ecosystem is ruined, the survival of human beings is threatened. A deluge represents the punishment of nature.

Considering how fast the ecosystem is being destroyed, people may have to build Noah’s ark right away. As a result of forest destruction, urbanization, overfishing, and climate change, 31 percent of vertebrates die out and half of fish was depleted between 1970 and 2006. The United Nations warns that species are disappearing 1,000 times faster than those in the natural state. Some 29,340 flora and fauna are on the list of threatened species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) predict that 10 percent of global species will disappear by 2050. The modern version of Noah’s ark will be a genetic resource bank.

Although Korea has less diverse species than tropical countries, it has more diversity than countries in temperate climate regions in the Northern hemisphere. Still, numerous flora and fauna have disappeared or are disappearing. Whales in Bangudae petroglyphs and tigers in folk paintings became extinct. The expensive restoration project of Asiatic Black Bears and putting dolphins back into the wild, which requires a large budget, show that Koreans value and are aware of the importance of biodiversity. Korea should prepare for the Nagoya Protocol, which defined the use of genetic resources and sharing benefits. Noah’s warning is targeting us.