There are many aspects to this article that I could talk about. For much of this article, I took it as Van Wyck trying to stress the importance of “ecological threats.”And while I think I agree with a lot of what he is saying, I think he might be going about it in the wrong way. Van Wyck writes, “An ordinal number that should not be allowed to conceal its deeply cardinal implications. Three hundred generations. A Y12K problem” (2). I think this quote represents a lot of the mindsets in our society. Whether it is about global warming, pollution, environmental degradation, nuclear waste disposal, etc, we as humans, present day humans, can see an issue, recognize its “importance,” and put plans in action for “the future.” Though, the significance can never sink in the way we think it can. We think we understand these issues, but ultimately we can’t because they do not directly affect us. So we pass it down, leave it to the future generations that will come after us. As Van Wyck said, “A Y12K problem” (2). There is only so much to these issues that we can connect to before they are forgotten or given up on. In his discussion, Van Wyck goes on to say, “The monument stands for geological permanence. And the human for its dutiful respondent” (5). But to me, the human stands for geological permanence as well. No matter the severity, humans being on this Earth has changed it. Even if humans never existed, some other species would have come along and changed it in their way. Millions of years from now, when humans are extinct, our mark will remain, and another species will come and make theirs; adding to our own. We can never undo the changes we have made, they are permanent.
I also disagree with the way Van Wyck describes how the humans must act towards the monument. Van Wyck writes, “How can one possibly guarantee the other? In one sense they must. For it is precisely the task of the monuments to keep humans away, and the task of the humans to keep away from the site” (5). The problem I have with this thought of Van Wyck’s is that you can’t keep the humans away. No matter how big, bold, or significant the monument is. Sure, they may never drill in that hole, and that waste could possibly stay buried forever. But we will just dig another hole elsewhere. Then make another monument, and the cycle will continue. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to bash on the human race and say that we should all be disgusted of ourselves for being filthy to the environment; what I am saying is that it is about benefits. It will always be about benefits. In economics, there is a model that states, if an action is done, it is because to that person, or animal, or even plant, the benefits outweigh the costs. We can try to plan for the future, but we are measuring costs and benefits based on the present.