This is the first in a series of blog pieces that offer a new way of contemplating environmentalism so please allow me to premise all of the following comments by acknowledging the necessity for humans to integrate their actions with natural systems. There have been damaging effects requiring address from the industrialization of the world. To think human’s actions, as humans now exist, can occur without effecting change on the plant would be lunacy. As human understanding continues to grow at a startling pace, greater opportunities are presenting themselves that will permit us to enjoy abundant lives in harmony with natural systems.
Having been born on a farm in British Columbia and then through the course of my working life being exposed to the natural world, the state of the environment is a point of concern and contemplation. The environment, particularly as it concerns humanity’s healthy existence needs to take priority in the minds of the entire world’s population. Bold and “truthful” assessment of the environment situation needs to occur. Focused debate on the next steps toward human harmony with nature still needs to take place. While there is consensus that the environment is challenged; the rhetoric we are hearing from the extreme elements of the environmental movement is questionable at best. It’s apparent at times there is a religiosity associated with some in the environmental movement, accompanied by the indoctrination of recruits rather than their edification. This is evidenced by the hostility encountered at the mere inquiry as to the credibility of claims forwarded by some.
Nature to me is the smell of pine drifting across my path on an August day in the high country. The smell of fresh cut wood, pungent in contrast to ambient fragrance. Nature is alpine flowers in July, ephemeral beauty. Nature is the excitement, as a flicker of a white tail passes from view. Nature is hours spent astride a horse and watching the county pass by. Nature is the bite of a cold winter wind, the shiver from an early spring rain. Nature is bold beautiful and powerful, comforting and intimidating. I’ve spent my finest moments in life at the whim of nature, a crisp October morning giving way to an afternoon’s nap against a south facing rock. I’ve quacked at the rustle of a bear in the bush. I wondered to find my way when a flat piece of county on a cloudy day stole my sense of direction. I have spent time with nature and felt bound to it and grown to love it, making an emotional bond. I feel I understand it and appreciate it as well as anybody. Given this intimacy I’ve developed with nature, when I hear someone speak of protecting “nature” my ears prick up. When, however, I hear someone prostituting nature to promote bygone political objectives, I become deeply offended.
Far too often I’ve turned my head toward individuals expounding with save the earth rhetoric from the heart of urbansville, only to hear every word they say underpinned by ulterior motive. When they say “cap and trade”, they really mean enforce monetary equality. When they say “100 Mile Diet” they really mean down with world trade. When they say “community managed forest” the really me stop logging. When they say save the earth, they really mean stop everything, freeze it all, stop society dead in it’s economic tracks. The constant salvo of urbanized thinkers trampling on the progress of humanity in the absence of an aft-ward glance is offensive and most certainly frightening. As Winston Churchill said, “the further back you look the further ahead you see”, and when I look backward to when nature had the full sway, humanity was a small ship on a rough ocean. The modern world has brought both promise and pearl to be sure. The reality is we are the earth’s stewards now, and we are expanding, and we need to harvest nature’s generous bounty. Nature exists in a changing landscape; a new road can be viewed as a scare or as a mode of transport. There is a critical balance to be had to be sure, one needs to be cognisant of result of our actions, but action is necessary; more than necessary it is exciting and filled with opportunity. This opportunity needs to be pursued with a clear mind however, informed by clear information. The environmental message has lost resolution and fidelity, as it has been appropriated by social interest.
The modern western population is now predominantly urban people who possess an idealistic view of nature. In grade school they were told about the “balance” of nature, how as a rodent population exceeds it food supply and they die off from starvation, and other examples of predator’s populations declining in response to predator over hunting of prey. Nature is a mass of happenstance and these are examples demonstrative of inherent imbalance as opposed to balance, anthropogenic interventions in the form of mindful stewardship can mitigate these fluctuations by integrating natural processes in human action. Anthropogenic intervention can enhance natural processes through the course of human endeavour. The view of human action on the ground needs to be transformed in the minds of people, from the shroud of detriment to the realization human endeavour is integral with natural systems. A road built blind to the requirements of nature is a scare on the land; a road built mindful of nature serves to enhance human endeavour and maintains or enhances natural processes. We can harmonise our actions with nature; that should be the focus, rather than having social engineering take us off course.
The Dali Lama teaches us to “avoid putting a goats head on a yaks body”. This is precisely what many social activists are doing to the environmental movement – perhaps the social activists are best regarded as wolves in sheep’s clothing. The wolves are the authors of the environmental manifesto and the builders of the road to subsistence.