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Just as a spoiled child demands a new toy or a bar of chocolate at the checkout counter, mankind has viewed natural resources with much the same childish bravado. The temptation to desire something, or to exploit a resource as we see fit, is justified by the human perception of ownership. In our attempts to interact with that resource, we cause catastrophic effects which may or may not occur within our boundaries of responsibility.
Our ability to control something and bend it to our human will, dictates our actions towards it. If we can control an aspect of nature it becomes our slave for use and abuse as we see fit. We commercialise it, we find ways to convert it into cash, we beat it into value added products or we slice it up and wedge it between 2 hunks of bread.
However, if we cannot control an aspect of nature, it becomes an object to be persecuted and feared. We invent methods of eradication and vectors of control. It becomes the enemy and instilled into human history as a dark and evil force that we need to protect ourselves from.
There are many ways that we interact with the environment and society.
We Try To Profit From Nature
Profiting from nature can be sustainable if it is undertaken in the right way. However, the temptation to abuse a resource for short term profit often seems too much for the frail human mind.
We Use Nature For Waste Disposal
Another way that we abuse the world’s capacity to withstand human activities is by treating it as a place to dispose of our waste. We create huge amounts of waste that is not designed to be disposed of, and then hide it in the ground, release it into the air, or dump it into a nearby river or sea. Many consider that once the waste is out of sight or has been “disposed of”, then we have no more responsibilities. But, this is where the problems begins.
We Try To Control Nature
There are certain aspects of nature that we try to control, such as insects, rivers, oceans, topography, exotic animals and plants. Rachel Carlson said “The ‘control of nature’ is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy, when it was supposed that nature exists for the convenience of man.”
We Try To Improve Nature
Our efforts to improve upon nature often result in negative and long term effects. There is no more controversial method of improving nature than the use of genetically modified organisms.
We are already experiencing the limits to the Earth’s capacity to absorb man’s activities has limits As natural resources become polluted and depleted, we must change the way that we treat the natural world, and begin to live within the constraints of natural resources.