When nature is an abstraction it’s easy to take it for granted

Yesterday, after reading Our World 2.0’s excellent article, Biodiversity, the world’s economic backbone, it occurred to me that we humans are being confronted by an entirely new challenge: How NOT to take nature for granted.

After lunch I took a moment to watch from our deck as the rain fell lightly onto the leaves of our persimmon tree. It struck me that so long as our decision-makers remain ensconced in their offices and meeting rooms and subways of the built world, that nature will remain an abstraction, a backdrop against which we play the game of our human project. A project whose very underpinnings are based upon such myths as endless economic growth, endless technological fixes, endless human-centered progress.

It’s ironic that when we are embedded in our human-made abstraction of economic modernity that we end up viewing nature as the abstraction, but when the vast majority of our life’s ‘stuff’ is fabricated, contrived, shipped and digitalized, how could the natural world be anything other than a distant idea? And then it becomes so easy to view it as a resource, a service, an entitlement, a bounty to use and exploit.

So long as our human relationship with nature is relegated to an idea or thing to use economically or otherwise, rather than understood as the lived experience of who we really are, I’m afraid that we will continue to push the limits until the world’s true economic backbone pushes back and calls a halt.

We need a new story. A story based on what we now know to be true about the world. Such a story, embraced widely, would have radical implications for our status quo, but when the alternative is, as the article said, the possible extinction of the our human species, it may well be sufficiently compelling.

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