Germaine Greer has bought 60 hectares of rainforest in Queensland to ‘save’. She had a recent radio interview, and wrote a newspaper article to publicise her book, White Beech, which describes the project. She says: ‘…there is another ten years of rehabilitation to be done before the forest will be once more intact…’ Hmm. One problem, apparently, is that birds will eat coffee beans and then ‘void’ the kernels everywhere, said kernels then growing into new plants ‘all over the rainforest’. I thought that Natural Selection ensured that just such a circumstance was bound to happen…
I suspect that returning an area of rainforest back to its ‘true endemics’ is an exercise in futility. What, after all, are ‘true endemics’? All parts of the planet are in slow and constant flux. Wasn’t Antarctica covered with rainforest at one time?
Still, I wish Dr Greer success, although as a struggling publisher I am envious of her ability to get publicity on the BBC and in the national press for what seems to me to be an overpriced book (£25). But it would be nice if she would direct her formidable intellect to solving some people problems rather than trying to turn back nature.
I recall a piece she wrote in The Guardian around four years ago, when Pope Benedict visited Britain. It was a tirade against kitsch in contemporary Catholic art, and the extent to which the Catholic Church, nevertheless, remains ‘dear’ to her.
The first third of the article was spent detailing her (non-Catholic) father’s loathing of the Church and all its works and accoutrements. Needless to say all the old criticisms were there, and some of what she said he said was offensive to the extent that I could not possibly repeat it. But the one criticism that wasn’t present was the Catholic Church’s position on contraception.
Does this demonstrate how deeply effective was Dr Greer’s own brainwashing by the nuns at the convent school she attended? The author of The Female Eunuch, surely one of the most iconoclastic works of the twentieth century, a ‘giant leap’ in the cause of female emancipation, can offer only criticisms of the Church dressed up as having come from her father. She chooses to ignore the Tyrannosaurus Rex in the room, the continuing absolute opposition of the Catholic Church towards contraception, and the condemnation of millions of people in the Catholic Third World to relentless poverty.
Last August, I commented on population growth being the ‘Elephant in the Room’ in the context of climate change and ‘saving the planet’. Why does the Catholic Church continue to hold to its dogma on contraception? Catholics in the West may accept it, but they certainly don’t practice it.
It saddens me that a highly intelligent academic like Germaine Greer, someone who has earned the right to speak and be listened to, seems unable (or unwilling) to take on one of the most important questions facing the world, an issue that she is uniquely placed to address. Instead she retreats into 60 hectares of rainforest and worries about birds and coffee plants.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs