Gets Softer but Will Not Bend
A knife in his belt, dressed in hunting pants, with his lumberjack shirt and pullover, he is the archetype of conservationist. And he is. The most famous and most debated of his kind in this country.
Ornithologist, fisherman and essayist Pentti Linkola visits his friend in Tapanila in Helsinki. He is visiting the city because he has promised to speak in the days of Bachelors of Economic Sciences.
"One can't believe what he has agreed to do," he smiles. "It must be some kind of prank that they asked."
Maybe it's not a prank. The cry in the woodland isn't the lonely one any more when issues such as with the climate change having become common for the Nobel winners to deal.
"The consciousness of ecology has grown," Linkola admits. "But still the Average Joe only increases the load. The bustle is controlled by three words: as long as."
The winter sun plays in the living room of a beautiful wooden house. Linkola starts shooting.
"As long as we can still travel to the other side of the globe four times a year, we will do it. As long as we can still buy a SUV, we will buy it. This is the reality."
The Finnish ecologic footprint is one of world's highest. Afar from the spheres of the thinker of Vanajavesi are the powers that be who are concerned with our birth rate and favour voluminous immigration. "These are so sick things, I'm absolutely terrified," Linkola manages to whisper.
As the root of the global economical abyss he names -- as expected -- overpopulation, the "human flood." And at its sharpest his pen has demanded not only the regulation of birth rate but also the violent reduction of already born. From this he has earned the label of eco-fascist.
Now Linkola may take his words back a little. "Those are speculations, material for discussion."
Yes, you may read Linkola in many ways. Token philosopher Georg Henrik von Wright has characterized him as the "clearest and deepest truth seer, at least in this country." On the other hand a month ago Pekka-Eric Auvinen who shot himself and eight other people in Jokela named him as his teacher.
The master himself isn't enthusiastic of Auvinen's deed. "Shocking hatred," he reacts. "No love at all, at any direction."
In Sääksmäki in Ritvala the living professional fisherman examines over one hundred nets every winter, pushes weekdays and holidays 14 hour day. Unfortunately the loyal Rimmo stallion crippled himself in the meadow. It's difficult to find a replacing peacuful horse which has patience to stand by the holes in the ice.
During his bird expeditions Linkola has traveled around Finland at legendary distances. He has spent his night in "perhaps a thousand" different camp sites, drunken from bogs, climbed in nest trees, seen bicycle's spokes exploding in frost.
Even a couple of row boats are worn down if you make trips like these: department from Salo, around Åland Islands, visiting hundreds of islets, arrival in Pori. And by rowing.
Nowadays focusing only in water birds, he has inspected certain observation routes for 59 years. The collation material is unparalled. "I'm a monomaniac. A smarter ornithologist would change his subject now and then," he snarls.
Great matters are hard to ponder. Linkola too is tormented by "the fashionable disease," depression. Still winter won't make it. On the contrary. "The landscape is more comforting when the snow comes, covering the tree stumps."
"Finland is a desert today," he swears and quits the speech of timber companies of softer harvest methods as sheer bluff.
"I make bicycle trips to Europe for mental health reasons. It's relieving to see that at least in other places the countryside has been preserved better than in Finland. And the posture of the treess is not horizontal but vertical."
This summer he travelled to Lithuania with his Helkama bike.
A smile usurps Linkola's graveness from time to time. And yes, he has a spark of humor. For example, in the reference to his birthday in December 7th. "Well, there are three remarkable births in consecutive days. Finland's, mine and Sibelius's."
Soon 75 years celebrating Linkola did grow up in a grand setting. His father's, a professor who had worked as the principal of the University of Helsinki, family lived in the main building of Kaisaniemi's Botanical Garden. It had been planned as the castle for the king of Finland in 1918.
Shelters have been tried out from a castle to spruce root and Ritvala's ferry shack. As he has aged, Linkola admits that he has gotten softer from his "previously rigorous" ways of life. But he hasn't gone slacking altogether that he would get warm to coffee. Or sauna.
"A smooth-skinned mammal doesn't really need bathing."
His matter of heart is buying forests for protection through the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation. He founded it and donated it nearly all of his monetary property.
"The only system in Finland through which you can save a piece of old forest with even a small contribution."
It's about a delayed fight. And nature can't thank like "the hobos a Salvation Army member." But even in the remains of it shines the delight of the protector.
"If I think what is my most pleasant doing in the world, it must be berrying."
What would you like in December 7th as your 75th birthday present?
If you were a bird, which species would you be?
The most important characteristic of civilization?
Did you meet Heinrich Himmler in 1942?
How big is your electricity bill?
Your proposal as the most useless item of the year?
How does Linkola appreciate Rock'n'Roll?
The liver casserole, with raisins or without?
- Marko Leppänen
Originally published in newspaper Helsingin Sanomat in December 5th '07.
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