With the debate surrounding global warming, much emphasis has been placed on how humans have negatively impacted the natural state of nature. The following question, however, arises from this debate: Is there such a thing as a natural state or is this merely an idea concocted by the human mind? For example, animals kill other animals, sometimes to extinction; beavers build dams that dramatically restructure environments. By analyzing the environments of Anarres and Urras, examine whether the natural state of nature is always desirable.

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Unlike the Urrasti landscape, the Anarresti landscape is the antithesis of all that is fertile. Its barren topography admits for very little of the lushness that characterizes the Urrasti countryside. Furthermore, Anarres is naturally arid, chilly, and windy. The air is thin; the "sun burned, the wind froze, the dust choked." Very few natural vegetation grows on Anarres. Perhaps the most fertile area is Abbenay (what used to be called Anarres Town), where Old World grains can flourish.

While the natural state of Anarres does not allow for widespread agriculture, it has rich reserves of natural minerals that allowed for commerce between the two worlds for a period of time. Although the natural state of an environment is not always conducive to life, the inherent nature of humans and animals allows civilizations to thrive despite difficulties.

As the book shows, any natural environment can be useful, despite the challenges inherent in its topography. In the Urrasti year IX-738, a settlement was founded at Anarres Town (Abbenay) for the purposes of mining the mercury in the area. The Urrasti discovered that it was more profitable to "mine the Moon than to extract needed metals from low-grade ores or seawater" on Urras. To aid the project, groups of Urrasti technicians and miners signed on for two to three-year assignments on Anarres. Yet, despite the formidable terrain, a small group of gold-miners and their families secretly settled on the Moon without the knowledge and express permission of the Council of World Governments. In the end, it was settled that the Moon should be given as an independent world of sorts to the International Society of Odonians.

That was how Anarres came to be populated by those who eschewed Urrasti materialism. So, although the natural state of an environment isn't always desirable, the human predilection for freedom and self-determinism often ensures the viability of a civilization within that environment. From the example of Anarres and Urras, it is possible for humanity to transcend the natural state (despite the harshness of the environment or the habits of human and animal life) to thrive above its circumstances. As is evident on Anarres, more laws will not so much reverse the negative contributions of humans and animals as impede personal agency and initiative. It is a fine line to walk, and the author contends that centralization will always be "a lasting threat, to be countered by lasting vigilance."

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