The Politics of Nature
One of the first things that nature provides is beauty, artistic inspiration, a sense of spirituality, and awe.
Perhaps the word “politics” is a turn off at this point, but before this is glossed over, take a look at the way we view nature and nature will be seen in a different light. Consider how we, as citizens of this planet, can make a difference if we think about what nature provides. Nature is neither Republican nor Democrat … one might say it is independent. Nature does not vote, but we can vote for nature. Nature does not need us, but we NEED nature.
One of the first things that nature provides is beauty, artistic inspiration, a sense of spirituality, and awe. Take for example, the vastness of an ocean, a majestic mountain range, forests that seem to go on forever, a glorious sunrise or stunning wildlife. How many times has a full moon, a sunset, water lapping at a shoreline or a bird mastering the air stopped you in your tracks? Yet there are people who do not understand the natural world. They may take nature for granted so how might they “vote” for nature? Let’s see what else nature provides.
Water is one of the defining parts of the Earth.The water on the planet is all the water we will ever have and it has been reused over and over again. Freshwater, saltwater, polar ice caps and groundwater sustain life. Aquatic photosynthetic organisms are one of the major producers of oxygen for life as we know it. Water shapes our landscape with tidal zones, weathering, and cutting through rocks for millennia or moving and depositing tons of soil in one event. Water helps to form our weather patterns. Aquatic ecosystems hold frontiers that have not been explored thoroughly with species that await discovery. How many of these species may be useful to us? Or are just plain amazing? Water, we all need it.
Soil, dirt if you must, may not rank high in our consideration of nature, but we would not have food, much of our clothing or building materials if we did not have soil. We would not have the diversity of organisms on land or in the oceans. Soil nutrients are continually recycled, taken up by plants, animals, decomposed and reused. Caring for soil is caring for the health and sustainability of our food supply and the habitats that sustain wildlife. All plants, from the tropics to the polar regions, help to hold precious soil in place. Microscopic plants to the tallest of redwoods, all are consumed or used by of wildlife in one way or another. Some animals have such a close relationship with plants that if the plant species disappears, the animal disappears as well. Soil and plants, we need them.
It cannot be seen, but it is all around us; air. A warm, gentle breeze, a biting, winter gale or the salty humidity of an ocean, air moves around and through us. Wind moves small organisms; spiders, seeds and spores much like water currents moving organisms. As seasons progress the temperature of the air creates changes for organisms … humans too. Air, in the form of wind creates waves, prunes trees, picks up soil, disperses pollen and helps erode rock. Air - it is needed.
We are all part of an enormous web of interconnectedness. - Dr. George Archibald, Co-Founder and Senior Conservationist, International Crane Foundation.
Wildlife is one additional, but certainly not the last part of nature. Small or large, beautiful or perhaps not to one’s liking, wildlife comes in so many forms. Be it a herbivore, predator or scavenger, all has a niche to fill in the natural world. Spider silk, strand for strand is stronger than many man-made fibers. Frogs and toads undergo metamorphosis and develop from an aquatic larval form to a terrestrial adult. It is more than developing legs, the entire skeletal structure, the respiratory system, the digestive system and more that all need to change. In the Yellowstone ecosystem, the introduction of wolves has improved rivers and streams, who knew? Amazing.
Many tropical plants have fruits and seeds dispersed by bats, birds and fish. A forest would not continue without them. Whether furred, feathered, four-legged or finned, wildlife has a place and needs places on this planet. We share this planet with wildlife.
With so many parts of nature “on the ballot”, do we vote for one, for all? The truth is everything in nature is connected so it is impossible to separate one from another. We, as humans are the ones that can assist nature by educating ourselves, educating others, sharing information and work toward understanding the connections that make this planet Earth a wondrous place.
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