Tuesday, 3 June 2014


*WARNING. Pretty pictures will resume very shortly.

An interesting piece in this month's BBC Wildlife from Richard Mabey about the vacuous cliche of concepts such as reconnecting with nature and sustainability. Aside from the usual irony of preaching by a person who has somehow achieved high status in the vortex of contemporary British society I found myself agreeing with Mabey on the shallow concept that somehow connecting with nature can alleviate human suffering- depression, anxiety etc.

Personally I don't actually think that I could be more connected with nature and the more I think I understand the more deeply disturbed I become. I'll attempt to explain. 

Non-human nature to me appears to be a game of blind determinism, luck, chance, indifference, immense suffering and loss and occasional success. Left to it's own devices non-human nature waxes and wanes, booms and busts, rises and falls in seemingly infinite configurations and relationships ruled largely by chance and chaos.

However it appears to me that humans in the game are a real game changer. Many try and reduce humanity to just another species- with equal significance to any other species (e.g. a whelk). However, strike me dead if I am being stupid but I can't actually think of another species that e.g. systemically observes nature, describes all the species within the system, categories those species, works out the behaviour of those species, the relationship between species, creates models of how particular ecosystems works and then transfers that information (through many means of communications) into formulating management models of how to manipulate the environment to achieve certain goals and objectives- e.g. agricultural systems, urban environments, nature reserves, parks, creating products etc, etc.etc. 

An increasing proportion of the earth's surface is 'evolving' into human managed ecosystems- anthropogenic environments. A systematic and methodical transformation of nature is occurring- rather peculiarly set to a backdrop of chaotic human expression of consciousness- love songs, music, theatre, religions. films, speeches, ideas, poems, wars and stuff. The planet and it's ecosystems are increasingly moving towards creations of human consciousness- this is not blind determinism, chance and chaos which governs the rest of nature- this is the projection of human consciousness into the material world. To reduce humanity to the same significance of any other creature on the planet is in my self-righteous opinion- fucking stupid, misses the herd of elephants in the room and fails to make the most important connection to nature that can possibly be made.. that now we have evolved with the power to do so, each one of us as an individual is responsible for the course and direction of natural systems (or at least the small part we occupy). We are part of nature- a very very important part. To have to face that and accept the responsibility and to also realise the consequences of ignoring that responsibility is what I find......... deeply disturbing. 

An increasing depressed and anxious human population is not experiencing those emotions for no reason. There are bloody good reasons to be scared and depressed in the way things are heading. Temporary relief from those emotions is nothing but distraction from facing the challenge head on. 

 A true connection with nature is a wake up call from a nightmare- not yet another vacuous distraction. 


john said...

Here is a thought. If God did not create man in his own image, then man will damn sure create himself in God's image; or at least die trying.

Peter Alfrey said...

Hi John, agree God and humankind a bit inseparable in any attempt to classify either.
Although I'm not sure that individuals engaged in e.g. engineering sterile 'silent spring' environments see themselves as Gods or doing the work of God. Aren't they more being driven by market forces- slaves to the market (headed up by a minority element of group psychosis). If it was about 'God' or some kind of higher consciousness it would be about empowerment I agree- not entrapment into being minions of decline heading towards self-extinction?

Bill said...

A fantastic post, Peter.

Peter Alfrey said...

Cheers Billy