Lords of the natural world we survey, there may soon be little left

Extinction Rebellion protestors lying down inside the Natural History Museum in London. Credit: Laura Parnaby/PA Wire

In every generation there is a new Frankenstein. He is always ourselves. Grotesqueness is behind the mask “everyman” wears.

The United Nations global assessment report is a new expulsion from the Garden of Eden. It foretells a fall from which there will be no redemption. Little in scripture adequately prepares in-scale for this new Hell on Earth. The destruction of nature, now well under way, is surely the “beast about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction”.

Beside Government Buildings on Dublin’s Merrion St is the Dead Zoo. That affectionate name for the Natural History Museum tells a specifically Victorian story. There was a mania for new museums to educate the industrial masses and burgeoning middle-class. Collecting, always a human passion, now had a moral purpose and a scientific underlay. Dublin, London, Vienna, and more built similar edifices on different scales, as new people’s palaces.

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