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Joshua Abelow

In an age of ecological uncertainty, when natural habitats are disappearing and creatures like the giant Oregon earthworm are becoming extinct before they have even been properly identified, when farmland is being paved over in favor of neighborhoods and shopping centers, and farmers are turning to genetic engineering and biological pesticides to solve their agricultural problems, in this complex age, the earthworm may emerge as a kind of unsung hero, one whose potential we are only just beginning to understand.

"Civilizations could flourish," he wrote, "in regions where the soil," to use Darwin's words, "had passed thousands of times through the intestines of active earthworms." He went on to make what is perhaps the most surprising argument to date in favor of the accomplishments of earthworms: "Many members of the human community, instead of cultivating this land that had already been so well ploughed, were going to devote their time to the construction of buildings and to creating works of the mind."

Any environment, any single life is in a continuous state of change. This is just more obvious when you pay attention to earthworms. Their work may seem unspectacular at first. They don't chirp or sing, they don't gallop or soar, they don't hunt or make tools or write books. But they do something just as powerful: they consume, they transform, they change the earth.

The Earth Moved, Amy Stewart


Additional work available.

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