Rethinking our Relationship with Nature
Without nature, we humans are nothing. My 21 years of life have reminded me of this fact numerous times. I am again reminded of the three weeks I spent at the McCall Outdoor Science School in May and early June of 2019. Multiple times did I see a small group of deer walking by the cabins. Still I see them and the lone fox as clearly today as I did then. As a species, humans have an enormous impact on the environment, and because of this it is our responsibility to protect it because we are so greatly connected to it.
Humanity has the ability to shape the world like no other species of plant or animal. We change the flow of rivers. It is common knowledge that the Europeans decimated the North American bison population in a very short amount of time. We are constantly harvesting trees from the Amazon Rainforest while providing little, in any time, for it to recover. Our trash covers roughly 1.6 million square kilometers of the Pacific Ocean (Liu)1.
We know of our impact on the natural world, yet I am disappointed with our response. Climate change caused by human activity has been around for longer than I can remember, yet there are still those who deny its extent, or worse, its existence! As a species we have valued profit of sustainability. I myself am by no means perfect in following the advice of the experts. Much like many of you, I either forget or am limited in my options. Yet I still try to heed their warnings and advice.
I am constantly reminded that human activity has arrived after the plants and animals. The deer, fox, and other animals in McCall were inhabiting the area long before the University of Idaho. Animals hit along roadways by vehicles were only going about their normal routes of travel before we built our highways. We have disrupted their territories and the animals have not yet been able to adapt. Large ecosystems are being separated by cities and freeways. State and federal protected areas are wonderful things, but are still not perfect. They each focus on different management objectives and include only parts of ecosystems within their borders. Improvements are being made, of course. Dependence on renewable energy is increasing and laws are being put into place, but more must be done.
We all have a duty to take care of the natural world. There is a reason universities have a college or department dedicated to the natural resource. Recognizing the problem is the first step, we are well past that. We must act now. There is always something the experts recommend that we can do. Recycle more, find ways to emit less CO2. Get involved in local activities that support the environment. There is a reason we feel so peaceful in a forest or on a river; we are returning to a place we know we belong. In all its harshness, nature still brings out what is best in us, whatever it may be for you as an individual. We must all use our minds to protect what is loved by all societies. Shakespeare once said “I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.”2 Please help in leaving this place for our children to waste time.
1Liu, Marian. 2018, March 23. Great Pacific Garbage Patch now three times the size of France. https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/23/world/plastic-great-pacific-garbage-patch-intl/index.html