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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Humans and nature

Barge landing and log sorting pier on Kootenay Lake, unused for decades (click to enlarge)

Mooring posts from another era

Recently abandoned property on the lake - home for 60 years of a school teacher and family...

The book, The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman takes a look at what would happen on our planet if human beings just disappeared. It's not a speculation on how or why that might happen, it simply looks at a range of interesting topics and explores them (through science, interviews and really interesting stories.)

What would happen to New York City (think collapsing subways as rivers take over underground)? What would happen to cats and dogs (think feral dogs winning the day)? What would be our 'ancient ruins' in the future (think plastic)?

I've given several copies away because it was fun, interesting... and of course, a little bleak. The bottom line however, is that the world would evolve along quite nicely without us, thanks! The songbirds won't miss you (or me) - not a single songs worth of us.

We are an integral part of the evolving nature of matter and life. We don't own or rule. We don't even really have much more going on than other creatures do. And of course, as with all matter, I will someday become the basic elements I am built from. (99% of the mass of the human body is made up of the six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus.)

So what? More compassion for our own naked and sometimes sad species wouldn't hurt. More humility wouldn't hurt. Less separation from other species and inanimate objects wouldn't hurt. More enjoyment of all of it as one system, not divided into arbitrary ghettos wouldn't hurt.

I offer the photos above, taken on a recent paddle on the lake - human and nature - or just nature.? Beauty/ugly? Or just what it is?


Comments:
Human or nature?
There is no "or", we are just a part in an ecological system. And as You put forward, a system that will survive without us (and better) because it is autopoietic. Lovely thought-provoking pictures ;-)
 
Oh, the places you see... the things you explore... the thoughts you provoke...

All reasons why you're a favorite.

Everything is meaningless, but there are some things worth pausing for -- letting their beauty pour into you, revive you, love you.

God is good.
 
Hi Gary
I’m sure nature can survive quite nicely without us but we can’t survive without it. It is central to everything we do although urbanized living can give a contrary illusion. Nature as our inspiration is evident in your posts with your lovely pictures. The current loss of biodiversity casts a pall over our long term survival- the land owns us – we do not own the land!! But there are also encouraging signs of more sustainable living and farming practices now emerging

Birds like dew on Gary’s feeders
Bright, travelled and aware
of seasons opportunities
Black to white to
changing hue
Repeat
 
Lindsay - that is very inspiring verse. Thank you.

Sarah - Gosh - you're good too!
 
I actually feel kinda happy when I think about this earth without us. We have been very inconsiderate guests.
 
Carol - we need to move from being landlords or guests...to be one of the gang :)
 
I've given a few copies of that one away too. There is something remarkably calming about it.
 
is nature compassionate? i don't think so.
so why should i be compassionate?
well...
because maybe somebody will be compassionate back.
 
I am not sure how to say this, but the Maple trees don't give a damn if a person like me observe their beauty, specially in the fall when all the leaves beam in color.
But I do give a damn, and they don't - that separates me from a tree. Trees are unaware of their own beauty. And don't give me some Zen shit that they might...
You see Gary, this is actually profound. Nature can not observe itself, it merely exists. Humans on the other hand look out and ponder: What is this, what is that? An extraordinary gift indeed.
I am strictly against this point of view that the "natural habitats" (mineral life, plant life, animal life) are the crown of creation ... whatever that is.
Basically I think it is idle to project an image out there of Armageddon without an human being at hand - "just nature". It is kind of a nihilistic philosophy: Me not good, worms and critters very good. All composts piles, all organic, all good.
Come on, we survived the orgasmic hippie days, where everything was "unity". Now it seems that we are stuck in a materialistic world view where "flower power" attains a whole new meaning.
No, the objective is this: Without human beings, nature goes to hell - and with human beings, nature will decline to zero.
It is not a win win situation.
But I do believe in humanity or humans. Eventually, after the dust settles, after the torments of wrath (sounds super biblical, but it is not) we humans will "observe" the world and nature anew.

I watched the sunset today, and I was all in awe. No Maple tree would have been able to do this for me!
 
Thanks Zee - interesting as always!

I never said those things were the crown of creation Zee. Just that we shouldn't be so proud and separate from nature because we really aren't that great.

Maple trees may well be here beyond humans... and not because of tree greed, arrogance, hatred, hubris or even naivety.

The book The World Without Us is interesting. I'm not hoping for it, but it certainly doesn't need us to evolve...
 

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