Fintan O’Toole: Only humans could have screwed up an entire planetary system the way we have

We are in charge of the planet, but not in control of ourselves

Scorched forest on Evia, the second largest island of Greece, August 10th, 2021. The fires in northern Evia had destroyed more than 120,000 acres of pine forest, to date, razed homes and displaced hundreds of people. File photograph: New York Times

Scorched forest on Evia, the second largest island of Greece, August 10th, 2021. The fires in northern Evia had destroyed more than 120,000 acres of pine forest, to date, razed homes and displaced hundreds of people. File photograph: New York Times

Perhaps we humans have always known that we might set the world on fire. Or maybe that awareness crept into our collective consciousness when we began to make the Earth a mere servant of our desires. Something told us that this might be a dangerous game.

The Greek myth of Phaeton is thousands of years old. The Roman poet Ovid wrote a gripping and terrifying version of it around the time of Christ.

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