Humans devote a lot of large and lofty talk to Nature. Even the way I’ve written it here — Nature, with a capital “N,” one of the only words we still routinely capitalize — shows that we reserve a special status for it. It’s one of the big-letter words, like Liberty, or Justice, or God. It’s an ideal deeply rooted in our cultural consciousness: Nature as Paradise. Eden with its lush foliage and its (generally) obedient animal companions. Today, Nature is still the de facto decor of our fantasies and paradises. If you want to confirm this for yourself, take a quick glance at the nearest advertisement. Chances are you’ll see people strolling in sunlit meadows or relaxing on sandy beaches or holding hands on windswept cliffs. We love Nature.
Or at least we think we love Nature. Or want to love Nature. But review the past hundred years and you’ll see an odd trend emerging. Even as we’ve become more emphatic in our praise for nature, we’ve gone about destroying it with an almost feverish intensity. Of course this probably isn’t news to you.
Every minute of every day we’re doing all sorts of colossally awful things to the planet. Like sawing down thousands of acres of tropical rain forest, dumping tens of thousands of tons of plastic into our oceans, and pumping noxious chemicals into the atmosphere. We’re doing it with such coordinated zeal that you’d think it was our divine function, the one role we’re uniquely designed to fulfill in the universal scheme. Yes we’re the jerks. The ones who ruin everything
Why would we ever act like this? We know that this is the only planet we’ve got. We understand that living within our ecological limits is no longer a negotiable matter. We also know in our guts that Nature is good. In fact I’ve never met a person who has a problem with Nature as a whole. I know plenty of people who drive cars that guzzle too much gas or who consider mosquitoes their mortal enemies (guilty!) or who leave the air conditioning on when the should just open a window. But I don’t know anyone who actually harbors a personal grudge against Nature.
I don’t believe that paper company workers hate trees or that oil executives despise glaciers, so then why do we act like were at war with Nature?
I think the problem is that somewhere along the way we’ve forgotten that Nature is more than climate change. A concept that has obstinately taken over our entire perception. We’ve mono-cropped Nature’s brilliance and complex diversity into a series of catch phrases originating from the two emotionless and unerring pillars of ‘Energy and Carbon’. Phrases that not only serve to disregard the broader living organism of environmental activism but really do nothing more than reflect our consumer lifestyles.
You might be thinking, this guy is splitting hairs! What he’s describing is merely semantics because surly we really can’t separate Nature form climate change. They are two peas in the same environmental pod. The reality is if you take a closer look at the physiological effects of the phrase Climate Change vs Nature, you might sympathize and appreciate the notion that people tend to feel way more receptive to concept of Nature than “climate change”. Mainly because in order for someone to begin to develop an opinion about a specific subject, they first must have a certain degree of understanding, perceived or otherwise. And to this end the concepts and complexity that surrounds the phrases: “carbon”, “energy” and “climate change”,even in its narrowest sense, are still far more difficult to grasp and understand then the concept of Nature, in its true full diversified, majestic and complex brilliance!
So while there maybe a higher awareness than ever about climate messaging, when it comes to closing the gap on matching our awareness and conversations into meaningful action and solution implementation, were losing.
Moving forward, sustainability has to emanate from a more evolutionary and emotional view point rather than just an analytical one. We have to feel we belong, we have to feel we understand. We have to feel we love the thing we are trying to protect. And most importantly, we have to feel it’s relevant.
On a very basic level, we need to grasp that everything is interconnected and interdependent — businesses, economies, societies and ecologies, me and you. There are also no easy answers, no final destination, and no one-size-fits-all solutions. But the interconnectivity that currently threatens the planet is also our most promising hope for revitalizing it. Getting smarter about the way we think, problem-solve and work together, is the first and most vital step of that journey.
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