Nature and us

Aldo Leopold, an American ecologist and environmentalist, said a century ago:

Wilderness is a resource which can shrink but not grow.

Having spent most of my adult life in the polar regions of our planet, I know for sure how right these words are. Pristine nature has become incredibly precious and is declining year by year. Land use like large-scale farming, mining and oil production spills the soils and oceans of our planet, pollutes, reduces and fragments natural habitats. Man-made climate change threatens whole ecosystems, changes global weather patterns and makes the ice melt. Never has this been more obvious to me than after having lived many years in the European Arctic.

Only after the last tree has been cut down
Only after the last river has been poisoned
Only after the last fish has been caught
Then will you find that money cannot be eaten.
Ecological movement of the 80s

Most of us are not guilty of any bigger crime towards nature. But we are careless. Our computers are running 24/7, our consumption is far greater than our actual needs and the responsibility for our actions is collectively ignored. We try to sooth our bad conscience by recycling and giving small amounts of money to animal-friendly organizations, but we are not able to cure the problem at its core. Which, honestly, would be the easiest thing to do, starting right at home by changing our lifestyle bit by bit. There's so many ways to positively influence one's own relationship with nature: just read up on it, the opportunities are nearly endless! Caring about nature, climate change and other lifeforms is neither expensive, nor complicated or relinquishing, quite the opposite. It's extremely rewarding!

I am fully aware that I do not have a clean slate myself - who has? Still, I try to think positive and make the best of what I have at this very moment, aiming for more and more improvement. The luxury of a free, wealthy and healthy western lifestyle is precious and we should not take it for granted. We don’t do nature any good by hunting photo-trophies all around the world or by ticking of a “to-do” list of places to visit, just for boosting our own ego. If you seriously care for nature then you have all the reasons in the world to travel slow, care about your carbon footprint and take the respect for nature back home into your everyday life.

We cannot undo the mistakes of the past, but we can at least try not to make them again. We need to take care of what we love: nature’s beauty is not for granted, and it surely won’t last forever if we keep on treating it without respect. Just as a native American saying states:

                                          The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to earth.