We are nature

By: Cassiopoia

I feel as though we have lost touch. We have lost touch to where we really come from and what it means to be an equal part of a working system so much bigger than ourselves. I believe that the human species have placed themselves on a pedestal of dominance over all other living things and that this myth is the engine that drives our day to day activities. Many people operate by this myth – whether consciously or unconsciously, that the Earth was “created,” for us to live on and take whatever we need from it without understanding the consequences. This has led to alarming environmental destruction worldwide and an overall lack of recognizing the intrinsic (natural) value, not economic, value of all living species. With this anthropocentric worldview placing humans at the center of everything, the natural balance that once existed between species on this Earth has been lost.

Now, the natural imbalance I mentioned relates to global warming and climate change. In the past before major human interference of natural systems, the Earth was able to maintain a state of “homeostasis,” a balance; of species, temperature, you know. But now, because humans have interfered and developed a way of living that consumes so much of the world’s natural resources, pollutes and disrupts so many natural ecosystems so quickly, the earth is having a harder time keeping the balance and temperatures are rising. You may have seen Al Gore’s zigzag graph that points to our most imminent doom.

You may not be with me on this, but I happen to agree with the thousands of scientists that have worked and continue to work tirelessly to be able to tell us almost unequivocally that climate change is indeed happening, is indeed a great threat to all species on this planet, and is indeed caused by human activity in the past 100 years or so. Before I go further I will make a distinction between climate and weather. Weather is our day to day, its rain, its snow, its blazing heat, its freezing cold. Climate is the average of all these things over time, lots of time. So to people who say that climate change and global warming are not happening because of one cold day in the summertime, that’s just not the case. The average weather (climate) is getting warmer and shifting. Now the worst effects of this may not be felt by westerners, but it is being felt by many third world countries and small island nations. The alarm is ringing and people need to stop tuning it out. One devastating effect of climate change is the worldwide destruction of coral reefs. Coral reefs cover one sixth of the world’s coastlines, are the most productive ecosystems on the planet and are the livelihood of the people that live near them. Because of rising temperatures, a slight increase in the temperature of the water as well as increased pollution and agricultural run off which is nutrient and mineral rich into the water causes massive blooms of algae to grow. Algae out-compete the corals for the nutrients that enter the water from the run-off and the algae end up using up most of the oxygen in the water leaving barely any for the corals. They also create a blanket which can block out the sunlight, decreasing the ability of the corals to photosynthesize. Fishermen use cyanide, sulphur and explosives to stun tropical fish to make them easier to catch and sell in foreign markets. These chemicals along with algal blooms cause the corals to bleach and in many cases, die. Scientists predict that coral reef ecosystems are in danger of becoming extinct and to prepare for this they are in the process of collecting corals to keep in storage in case one day the water returns back to a state in which they can thrive again. This is just one effect of climate change and one way that our current way of living is affecting the environment.

There was a new philosophy developed in the 1970’s by Arne Naess called “Deep Ecology.” This philosophy centers on the principle that all living things are equal in the inherent value on Earth, in other words, no one species is more important to life than another and everything is interconnected and interdependent. It rejects the anthropocentric way of life, just as many civil rights, feminist and animal rights movements have as well. Its not misanthropic, or people hating, it simply recognizes that we aren’t the center of things and our needs aren’t the only thing that matters. This has been one of the philosophies that has fuelled environmental activism in the past few decades. It is kind of related to the Gaia theory proposed by James Lovelock that suggested that the Earth functions as one organism or one entity, so if one part of the organism defies this then the whole thing goes all wacky. In respect to climate change, the deep ecology worldview is a way of seeing the world that leads to a respect and appreciation of nature and the complex web of life that we are a part of. One of the basic principles of deep ecology is to question things on a deeper level, to question where we came from and what that means. Our actions all have a consequence, and whether or not we can feel the effect of those consequences in our daily life, we can’t avoid them.

What I’m getting at is that I am worried that the majority of people don’t value nature outside of its economic worth, or at all. There needs to be a shift in consciousness toward a worldview that does not alienate our species against all the rest. All species share the same right to live and flourish. There is a great opportunity for self realization in identifying with the natural world. To realize that we are all interconnected, all animals, plants, insects, bacteria, etc., is a process of self realization. We all share the same history and we are all one.

I will add one more thing. While I was researching this I learned about social ecology as well and on particular thought stood out and that was the fact that “we can’t expect to treat the natural world appropriately unless we take care of other human beings appropriately.” This is an excerpt from something I read, “…But humanity is a part of nature too, and the development of our awareness and our human freedom is an important step in ending the environmental crisis. I would say that deep ecology is part of the great liberation movement that culminated in the Enlightenment and is now trying to move beyond the Enlightenment’s limitations. It’s not just about freeing white men from the control of the king, and it’s not just about freeing women or blacks anymore. It’s about freeing all beings from unnecessary kinds of control and exploitation.”

So what do we do? Well I suggest we educate ourselves, we talked to people, we reach out, we connect, we question, we find true value in life.

P.S. Please question, challenge, comment.


17 Comments on “We are nature”

  1. Janouka says:

    I suggest we hike!

  2. Deek says:

    A big part of why we're causing so much hurt to the earth is because we are lazy. How do we become not lazy? We commit acts of laziness when we don't have the time to do the proper thing or when we feel our energy could be best conserved or used for something that would give us an immediate payoff. So we are bad at judging the value of the thing we receive from our actions. We need perhaps to think more globally and collectively, for long-term. This is a difficult task for an impermanent temporal being such as a human.

  3. m1ndstate says:

    Nature is largely competitive. Most species adapt and evolve to overcome obstacles- humans are no different. The disruption of the natural equilibrium is a necessity if humans wish to continue our rapid expansion in different researches and technologies, and receive the benefits of them.

    You are right, the destruction of the world environment is a byproduct of human ambition. But this perceived sense of “dominance” over other things is simply that… we are dominant. We are smarter and more capable than any other creatures on the planet. I think our success speaks for itself.

    I believe changing our attitudes at this point is futile. Our species (at least from where I'm sitting) has developed a global infrastructure that is far too complex to simply reverse. Our accomplishments have set us apart from the rest of the world- quite considerably- and it would take a phenomenal argument to convince people that their life's value parallels a gnat's.

    Our “conceited” views aren't something to be ashamed of. By utilizing our intelligence, we have set ourselves apart from the rest of the natural competition, making our mark on the world. This has obvious, natural consequences, but to be frank, I would rather humans meet their maximum potential than merely existing.

  4. Deek says:

    Well ofcourse we are dominant but we are still a part of our ecosystem. We rely directly and indirectly on a lot of processes that are seeing fluctuations lately. You must be able to see that things like too much deforestation or pollution to the world's lakes and oceans can be harmful to our survival in the long run.

    I think the thing about our life's value is referring to the roll it has within the cycle of maintaining the world's health overall, as a whole- which is also related to our own future survival as well.

    But what is our maximum potential apart from existing? What would be the goal?

  5. Deek says:

    “The destruction of the world environment is a byproduct of human ambition.”

    But what is the ambition for? Shouldn't it be to live peacefully and healthily with our surroundings and other humans? Because the ambition currently is to make money. Money that can be used by individuals for pleasure. That's the bottom line.

  6. T. McLinden says:

    I definitely enjoyed reading this, and I actually share your point of view on the subject in a fairly general sense.

    I took a course in evolutionary ecology last year and it really got me thinking about a lot of things. It is definitely true we're a part of a system, and because of our intellectual prowess we have goals that differ very much from every other species out there. Because of this, we don't really fit into the homeostatic model that an “ideal” thriving ecosystem is based on.

    Most animals, bacteria, plants, etc. have one goal, to reproduce. They do whatever they can to reproduce, which may include killing other organisms, abusing them, using them unfairly to their advantage to reach this reproductive goal.

    Humans, back at the birth of our species (whenever that was I really don't know, I don't know jack about history) probably shared that goal.

    The thing is, we have evolved to be so complex and literally so advanced we are not even a part of the global ecosystem anymore. We are above it, and we manipulate it and do what we wish to it not so we can better reproduce, but for the most part, to benefit ourselves in other ways (financial benefit is a large part of it, a long with gaining power etc.)

    The thing is, who is to say we ARE suppose to be a part of this balanced system? Who is to say we are not suppose to destroy this planet? Maybe it IS our purpose to engulf Earth and it's resources, to destroy the atmosphere, to lead to our own extinction and maybe the elimination of all life on this planet?

    Whatever anyone believes in regards to creation, whether it be through the big bang, by some force of “God” – we were created by the same burst or energy or the same God as every other organism out there. If other organisms can't compete, can't resist, can't fight our power and influence than maybe they are not suppose to be able to.

    If the Earth cannot maintain our use of its resources to fuel our “activities” that we as a species have devised, then that is not our fault, it's natures.

  7. Deek says:

    Yeah. We're like bacteria. Just engulfing the world with technology. But bacteria need the thing they are living on, that's why they live on it. So whatever we do to the earth should be beneficial to it if we want to have the outcome beneficial to ourselves.

  8. T. McLinden says:

    Bacteria need the thing they live on, but they also will live in the location that benefits them most. A bacteria would love to flourish on the open wound of a human, utilizing the maximal amount of nutrients it can from our system. This leads to infection, disease, and death (of humans).

    The same bacteria could sufficiently live where ever, whether it just be on our skin or in dirt, but if they have the chance, they invade our systems and use us to better themselves.

    We want humans to adhere to a life-style that is more receptive to the idea of homeostasis/equilibrium in order to maintain a balanced planet, yet other animals/organism exhibit the exact same habits we do. They just don't have the facility to maximize their potential (due to a lack of evolution in their species), and as a result, their actions are limited to things that we deem as 'natural' or within acceptable moral boundaries.

  9. Cassiopoia says:

    I don't mean to suggest that we need to change our attitudes to reverse all our accomplishments and go back to living like cavemen. This is just one worldview, there's another which recognizes that humans have evolved as special, more advanced creatures but also says that because we have evolved like this, we have a responsibility to take care and protect the planet – we have the ability of foresight. At this point, we absolutely need to develop new technologies if we hope to combat climate change and restore an equlibrium of some sort, but we also need to change our ways in many respects.

    I enjoyed reading your comments. Maybe it is our destiny to destroy the planet, I certainly don't like to think so…

  10. T. McLinden says:

    Yeah the more I thought about what I wrote the more I kind of disagree with what I said. I guess the destruction of our own species, the planet, and all the other “lesser” species (lesser in the sense they have not involved the intellectual capacities we have) could be one destiny of humanity.

    But just because we are intellectually 'superior' doesn't mean we need to exploit that knowledge and use it to better ourselves in any way we can. Like for example, just because someone has the means or capabilities of doing something doesn't mean they should do it.

    The difference between humans and every other organism out there is our sense of morality and like, our ability to make ethical choices.

    We can still thrive GREATLY using the evolutionary advantages we have but also act consciously of others (other species) who are less 'intellectually developed' as well.

    Maybe the creator put us here, and made us evolve the way we have and made us able to solve such complex problems because we are meant to. Maybe it's our purpose to continue expand Earth's inhabitants to other planets, to reverse the effects of natural global warming, to devise new technologies, to make renewable resources that ALL species can utilize, stopping the extinction of our own species, and many others.

    It's like, bacteria infect a flesh wound on a human not because they have a little brain that is telling them “lets kill this other organism” – they do it because they need food in order to reproduce.

    Human's do a lot of shit to this planet and to other species that really doesn't benefit anyone, they just do it for no real purpose at all.

    I'm basically just rambling, but yeah, great post – very thought provoking, looking forward to the next one.

  11. Cassiopoia says:

    This blog is the thought provokation station. Cheers, looking forward to yours too!

  12. Janouka says:

    I think that what we need to do is progress further, but in a more thoughtful way. I don't exactly know how, as I am not a scientist by any means.. but regression, at this point in time, never gonna happen. We need to push further, and I think we are. More educating, more development in an ethically ecological way, and more appreciation. I think, as individuals, communities, and global communities, we all need to reevaluate the word “need”. And truly appreciate all that we have. If we appreciate what we've already got, and release the need for “more, more, more”, we will use less, and maintain and appreciate what we've already got. As I think, that along with a lot of things, the root of this problem is based in consumerism. Oh, the “C” word.

  13. Deek says:

    Yeah a lot of people don't appreciate what they have because 'you don't know what you got till it's gone'.

    It eventually comes down to 'spirituality' or some kind of connectedness to the ground of life. We come from the ground and we go back to the ground. So we are the ground.

    But I believe every process that happens is a part of nature, so if the system is corrupt now, it will balance itself out somehow. It does start with the individual though. So we just got to slow our roll.

  14. I have always wondered about us humans and our pull to travel as well as our curiosity to discover new things. When man first built boats and faced open sea's it was due to starvation they say. Now it's space travel due to an overall knowledge that we are facing the same situation. Humans are meant to have this pull to spread naturally. We will eventually take to space like water. I also then wonder how long it would take us to engulf the whole universe… IF we keep on our old habits; even today we are living in dark ages… and what could we possibly do afterward? Like what do we do if we consume everything in the universe?

    I have faith in mankind that we will leave all the idiots here on Earth to reproduce and consume, hopefully as soon as possible, but like who is to stop us from doing it over, and over again. Evolution will come when we are out in space as a species.

    The vast and unforgiving dangers of space, along with the meticulous rationing of energy and life support as well as the forced independence from the Earth will create a new type of human… a human who has been born in outer space and if were allowed to visit to earth would be foreign; this will be the true evolution factor. The farther out we would go the less human we would become I believe.

    Which could be a good thing.

    But I do believe humans right now aren't ready for that as we are a dirty virus that causes cancer, if we were to spread right now we would destroy everything. We seriously live in the dark ages right now…

  15. Deek says:

    Good call. Something that comment reminded me of kinda unrelated but today I was reading in a book about this stretch of water that led from the mainland I guess east Africa to Sahul which was most of Australia that was 100 KM across 20,000 years ago. They apparently know that descendants of homo sapien or homo erectus crossed this on rafts earlier than this date when they believe the water stretch was even longer, like I guess 50,000 or 60,000 years ago. Apparently the trips took like 7 days. They say some of the trips were accidental and some on purpose. So crazy how we have this innate urge to explore.

  16. They say early humans hunted the herds of game that followed the receding grasslands due to lack of monsoon rains. it led them to open waters of like the Mediterranean I believe. They were the bravest humans in history as the creatures that ruled the waters were so fierce and massive that many were probably swallowed whole. But like the vast emptiness of space humans care not for the warnings of nature. This is why we destroy our planet cause deep down we know we can just bounce out; once technology hits the point of 'no-return' (that is interstellar travel) when we will have no reason to return to earth. As of now we aren't natural we are against it apparently… we will need to change if we are ever going to be responsible enough to travel out into space without conquering and repeating history again, and again.

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