On Thursday we held class outside and began having a discussion on nature. We went around the classroom and each person said what their own personal definition of nature was. What do you think of when you here the word "Nature"?
It got me thinking about the anthropocentric view we humans have about nature. We think of ourselves as apart from nature: Man-made vs natural.
And yet, humans are still animals. We are part of the food chain, like other animals. We breathe and interact with nature, like other animals. Everything we eat and do impacts the rest of the ecosystem.
Yet we seem beholden to this idea that we are special in some way. We build isolated societies almost devoid of any species, save bugs we can't seem to avoid and a selective number of animals we choose as pets. It's quite ironic that we search so desperately for life beyond our solar systems when we cut ourselves off from most of our neighboring species within our own planet.
This idea that humans are separate from nature has huge negative impacts. I believe it's a large part of why so many people seem so nonchalant about the idea of global warming. We are clearly poisoning our own habitat, yet because our houses still have air conditioning and we can still buy processed food at the grocery store, we are lulled with the false sense of safety, that we are somehow pardoned from the environmental consequences of our actions.
But Nature is intimately interconnected in so many ways. Our actions are just part of a cyclical system, and one day are actions will catch up to us. When we have dried up the Earth of her clean water and filled her lands with waste, so too will we witness the fall of grocery store chains and air conditioning units.
However, we need to realize that ultimately, the one who will suffer is not the Earth but humanity. The more we pollute the world we live in, the sooner we suffer. But Earth and Nature itself? She has existed for millennias, survived catastrophic changs and asteroids. Humanity is but a speck of dust in time to her. She will prevail long after we are gone.
So we need to pull it together and wake up. Our "12 Years" have shrunk to 5. The ticking of the clock breathes down our necks and the time for change is now. We need to stop seeing ourselves as apart from nature, and a part of it instead.
On a lighter note, I was reminded of this meme I saw a couple years ago. (Excuse the swearing)
Now that I've finished that whole monologue, I wanted to discuss something interesting from the Honors Anthropocene class. The professor asked us "Do you want to live in a pristine environment?" The immediate response was a definite yes, but the more we thought about it, the less we were sure of our answer. The professor showed a picture of the Alps.
Pristine? Yes. Beautiful? Definitely. But would we ant to live here? The general consensus was that none of us had anywhere near the skill set to be able to survive. We would likely die of starvation or thirst. "I'd like to go to vacation here for a day, but not live there," someone answered.
It made me question whether it was wrong that we couldn't survive in such a setting. Should we be going back to our ancestral roots and relearning the hunter gatherer ways? But then again, humans are social creatures. Perhaps it's more suited to our nature to want to live in societies with other humans.
It was a difficult realization to accept. We want a "clean environment", but there was still an amount of technology and "man-made" interference necessary for humans to survive. No one wants to live in a dirty city but no one could survive a complete pristine environment either. So then is the answer for everyone to just live in suburbs?
I'm still thinking about this and have yet to reach a conclusion, but it's an interesting topic to meditate on in the meantime.