Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Nature: For or Against Us?

The first person to comment on this blog was Nick whose 'Ganesh and Ghandi' blog I have read with interest over the past few months. He has not posted for a few weeks now after writing a piece about the Louisiana floods, obviously very upset about all that has gone on. His article is thought provoking and links to other interesting articles that ask some very difficult questions.

Are we being led by the nose by a misdirected media (ignoring issues of global warning, the seriousness of the destruction) and big business (exploiting political expediency for a quick buck) to some kind of apocalyptic destruction scenario?

Or is this just man forgetting the power of nature and paying the price?

I suspect that it is more the latter than the former. I think man (speaking very generally) has begun to believe he has a technological superiority over nature. He believes he can affront nature. The more the President (by the President I mean the power structure of America) has thought he is safe in the hands of industry, of his military, the less he has thought of the American land and the latent power within it, the need to upkeep that vast domain and to treat it with respect.

So, it's a question of losing touch.

This position will evidently change.

We cannot manage nature in the way that we manage technological projects (be they the construction of oil refineries or military invasions). For nature, we have to be prepared, and to take a long view.

And we (city dwellers, our lunches doled up in office refectories) should not forget that 'real' nature has a positive side also. There is a poem called 'Our Hold on the Planet' by Robert Frost (who often wrote about the relation of man to nature) that puts the right glimmer of optimism on the question:

There is much in nature against us. But we forget:
Take nature altogether since time began,
Including human nature, in peace and war,
And it must be a little more in favor of man,
Say a fraction of one percent at the very least,
Or our number living wouldn't be steadily more,
Our hold on the planet wouldn't have so increased.

There is optimism here, albeit guarded. A necessary optimism.

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