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The nature of nature

You’re a nature lover; you find it revitalizes you, sweeps away the cobwebs (never mind the natural nature of cobwebs).  Alright, then!  Where to find it?

Perhaps you like to leave the city behind, get out where the air seems fresh.  Climb the mountain that refused Mohammad, go on a surfin’ safari, that sort of thing.  The thing is, all this artificiality gets you down, bro.  I mean like, wires, concrete, dump trucks, horns .. it just makes your head hurt.  Well, okay, not literally, most of the time, but it’s bad for the soul, right?  It’s not right, right?  It’s .. we’ve screwed it all up, the ecosystem, and we need to get back to..

To what?  The Ecosystem, the grand, immutable, capitalized Ecosystem?  Which one was that?  A hundred years ago?  Two seconds ago?  It’s a dynamic system, meaning there is no ecosystem to get back to, because we’re in it.  Now.  Maybe you don’t like it right now; that’s another issue.

The whole distinction between nature and artifice is wrong.  A Massey-Ferguson combine is no less natural than the stripped-down twig used by a bonobo to get at termites.  The mound built by the termites is the same, in essence, as the Sears Tower.  The differences we see are matters of degree, not kind.

Does that mean I don’t believe there’s an environmental crisis?  Not at all.  But it’s not Mother Nature that’s in danger.  It’s humanity, one of her least understood offspring.  The Earth doesn’t need saving; it will be just as fine as barren, acid-scarred rock as it is covered with what amounts to a thin slime of life.  Does Venus complain?  Does Mars feel inferior?  Who really cares about the current state of a lump of matter in the great nowhere?

Well, we do, because we care about the existence, or not, of our kind.  We mourn the passing of creatures we’ve never seen precisely because we might be next; we show no such compassion  for those closer to us: mice, cockroaches, wasps.  But these, too, are our kind, our mushy, pushy, boisterous, gustatory kind: living beings.

I see the value of greenery and what we call wildlife.  We’re changing our circumstances much faster than we evolve.  That’s our nature, after all.  It’s just that we don’t have much of a chance at surviving it all if we insist on seeing ourselves as apart from it all.

You want nature?  Look around you.  Cars.  Trees. Mountains.  Molehills.  Look inside that fortress skull in which you think you live.  That mushy gray stuff is as natural as sunsets and gamma radiation.

3 thoughts on “The nature of nature

  1. I like the Carlin-esque style of your piece as well as the message. Growing up with a geologist Dad, I heard plenty about our do-good hypocrisy regarding the environment. Today, as fairly comfortable middle-class peers lament fracking and exploiting the tar sands, we hear no one volunteering to give up their cars or home heating fuel to collectively bust the market. The Earth will look after herself. Maybe if we emulated her peace of mind, we’d birth smarter solutions.

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