We need nature more than nature needs us
How we benefit both economically and intrinsically from the presence of and our interactions with nature.
One of my favorite sounds in the whole wide world is the sound of bird calls. The bird call that makes me happiest of all is the call of the Barred Owl. When I lived up north, I would lay in bed and hear the Barred Owl. Try as I might, it was impossible to hear this call without a smile spreading across my lips. Literally. I could picture this beautiful creature sitting high in a tree outside my house calling out to his friends to come out and play.
In 1962, Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, a rather difficult to read book about the effects of chemicals such as DDT. She named it Silent Spring because it tells the story of a year in which enormous numbers of songbirds had died because the United States Department of Agriculture was spraying DDT across wide swaths of New York in order to kill mosquitoes.
These sprays, dusts, and aerosols are now applied almost universally to farms, gardens, forests, and homes-nonselective chemicals that have the power to kill every insect, the “good” and the “bad,” to still the song of birds and the leaping of fish in the streams, to coat the leaves with a deadly film, and to linger on in soil-all this though the intended target may be only a few weeds or insects. Can anyone believe it is possible to lay down such a barrage of poisons on the surface of the earth without making it unfit for all life? They should not be called “insecticides,” but “biocides.” (Carson, Rachel (1962). Silent Spring. Houghton Mifflin Company. Page 266.)
Florida has amazing winged creatures. From little hummingbirds to graceful cranes and herons. They are things I treasure about living here. I could not imagine a Florida without ibises, egrets, cranes, Roseate Spoonbills and pelicans. At my current apartment, I sometimes hear songbirds making beautiful melodies in the darkness of the late night or early morning. It always makes me smile.
But not everyone on Earth has the deep appreciation for nature that I do. We make decisions without thinking about the consequences. We continue to destroy and exploit Mother Nature for monetary gain. Money. What will we do with money when there are no bird songs? What will money be worth then?
The plight of any one species is the plight of all of nature. We are all intertwined and depend on one another for survival. However, we humans are far-removed mentally and often physically from the source of the food we eat. We forget that we depend on “nature” for sustenance in the form of plants and animals. What was made in a factory, first came from the Earth.
Nature also provides other valuable services that we literally cannot live without. Bees, birds, wasps and other flying creatures pollinate our food plants. Without this, we would all starve to death. Plankton in the seas we often treat as garbage cans and toxic waste dumps provides more than 50% and perhaps up to 85% of the oxygen we breathe. Warming seas result in lowered oxygen levels that can kill plankton.
Perhaps most importantly, nature calms us. It reduces anxiety. It brings us peace, joy and wonder.
When you think about contributing to the global fight to save our planet, think about your relationship with nature. Do you have one? It is accepted in many circles that spending time in nature makes us less stressed and more mentally healthy. Even if you live in the city like I do, there are pockets of nature. They’re called parks. If your city doesn’t care about parks, let them know that you do. Fight for more green space. Until we all have an appreciation and even a reverence for nature, we will continue to march blindly into the abyss that is extreme climate change.
Nature is worth fighting for. It’s worth sacrifice and inconvenience.
And we need it. More than it needs us.