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America and the environment

By Heather Worthing | Campus Life Editor
On February 15, 2012

Humans have always had a peculiar relationship with the environment. In general, we have searched for those who will tell us how to behave towards nature and other aspects of life. Prophets are sought after and studies read that either justify current behavior or challenge the status quo.

But do we need this guidance, or should efforts be channeled towards searching for truth ourselves?  The truth that previous prophets have told society is one of a Taker culture. Consume all that you can. Man is dominant. Eat or be eaten.

We have always put our species at the center of focus and importance, but we are failing to realize that every species is interconnected with each other and, until we act differently, we will not have optimal quality of life.

Individuals, in relation to their society, tend to agree on certain codes of conduct. Murder is usually frowned upon, for instance. However, individuals in relation to ecology escape any sort of consequence for their actions.

This mindset creates a consistent need for profit to be derived from the land.  Creating a dynamic of conquer over the land that is futile because man is ever evolving as to what he deems necessary to conquer or protect.  A price has been put on certain aspects of natureworthy aspects of nature that benefit humanity in some way or another.  These will be protected, just as long as humanity has use for them.

But this system is flawed. Ecology is not compartmentalized. Every insect, bird, mineral and microorganism is interconnected. You cannot preserve a flower without taking into consideration the soil from which it grows.

For so long we have been living life in such a manner that implications are not considered. When the consequences do finally manifest, behavior is not changed, but insanity is perpetuated as we do the same thing over and over with more effort, expecting different results. Deforestation, species elimination, landfills and pollution are among some of the implications that manifest when we insist on a lifestyle of excessiveness.

According to the United Nations (UN) Environment Programme, 200 species are going extinct daily. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization reports the earth's total forest area continues to decrease at about 32.5 million acres a year. These facts should be a somber reminder of what continues to happen as humans consume and "progress."

We can look upon the early years of humanity with disdain and arrogance. Comparing man to animal when he was not in control of his destiny or what flavor of ice cream to get in the store is tempting. However, are we that much more independent now? Our sense of convenience and control could be challenged when we realize our dependency on all the hundreds of people that made that choice of ice cream flavor available.

I am not suggesting we live in the woods, surviving solely on berries and rabbits, but I am challenging the arrogance and ignorance of the assumption that we are removed from nature and our actions might have on her.  

God helps those who help themselves. But really, we believe the gods were only helpful enough to provide the resources to live like animals, but that is not good enough, we think. Man must live superior to animals.  

Opportunities and riches cannot be attained when constantly searching for the next meal or building a fire to stay warm, and so we build and destroy so that more and more can be achieved. But more for whom, and for how long? It is unfortunate indeed when we expound that nature is slave to man.

The solution I propose is for humanity to live in such a way that is interdependent and respectful of all life existing, motivated by the prospect of harmony, instead of global warming and certain doom. In order to reach this state, every aspect of creation needs to be intelligently explored and accommodated by humans.  

No longer can we rely on collective society informing us what is acceptable behavior towards the environment—look at where that has gotten us. We must take personal responsibility for our actions and are informed to the extent that we know the implications of those actions.

 


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