As you read this right now, we humans use half of the world to live. This includes growing crops, using trees as timber, and pasture for the animals we have tamed as pets or as livestock to eat. If you added us all up we would weigh 10 times as much as all the wild animals put together. We make our roads through forests and hills to gain access to concrete jungles we have built our dwellings. Not to be content with the take over, we have added little plastic particles to the sand on ocean beaches through our ever increasing thirst for pre-packaged items and gadgets that we change nearly as often as our clothes. Changing the chemistry of the soil with our artificial fertilisers, and even engineer the plants so that in some way they become better than the originals. The air we all breath has also changed, as we breathe in the fumes from the metallic beasts we created, which roam from street to street, and through villages to cities.
We have gone from the actor at the side to the director of corporate Planet Earth, autotuning the voice as the dictator of the planet. So what then is nature in a world that is influenced and run by humans? As we share this planet with other animals, and all the other plants, and all the other microbes, yet we act as superior beings to them. Like lord and ladies of the manor we expect them to be our servants and slaves. However, only this week there was public outcry when it was believed that the British parliament was trying to show animals are not sentient beings. If it had been true it would have led to a backdoor being open allowing further hurt through unnecessary testing in laboratories to destroying habitats through fracking, and a return of fox hunting that is more a game of pleasure by a selective elite than a necessity to keep their numbers low. Nature is everywhere, all our senses recognise it, but we are still are blind and deaf to the need to protect it from further damage.
I remember my high school biology teacher telling us about the many boxes Charles Darwin brought back from his travels, but over a third were still not looked in by the 1990s. This left me stunned, in the time since their collection over a 150 years previously, and further twenty-twenty five since then to the present. The world has changed dramatically with all we have done to the world through the Industrial Revolution, World Wars and the present with our digital world. To think that we may have wiped out a rare plant species that could cure cancer or AIDS and other diseases that lies in one of those boxes. My heart sank then at the realisation of how much damage we have done to the world in my lifetime alone, and over twenty years later there are tears as see how much worse it not only has become but continues to be so. I cannot have children, but seeing the world through my nieces and how attached they are to electronic gadgets. When I took them to them outdoors to a botanical garden for a treasure hunt they did not stop once to wonder at the world around them as I did as a child and would make such a hunt take last twice as long as asked a hundred and one questions. Sadly instead they were glad to reach the end, hoping to be given money as a well done, and only slightly satisfied by a free cookie instead.
Freddie Mercury and Brian May of the band Queen wrote a song over thirty years ago called ‘Is this the world we created’, the lyrics still prick as poignantly as it did then and is as relevant and fresh as if it was written today. Thirty years from now will the images of some plants, animals, and people be contained only on websites and cloud servers as seized to exist in the real world. Children at present are discouraged from climbing trees or playing in mud for dangers we have created that were there before but now we feel the need to protect them from. There are bigger dangers out there from our fellow humans than than those from nature, which we turn a blinder eye to those. Sadly many children now will never understand the magic of sitting on the branch of a tree and watching the clouds above float on by as daydream of dragons taking them travelling on its back. In many ways we are stealing from the next generations and robbing them of what we had. Yes, life has changed in many ways we could never of imagined when I was born nearly four decades ago but we need a balance. This electronic brave new world is no replacement for the real thing, nature is part of us and that is an artificial extension to it not a full replacement. So lets make 2018 the re-connection year and not a further step towards a final divorce from our friends of fur, feather, and wood.
© Fi S. J. Brown