December 4, 2018
Ah, yes, why is California burning up?  It makes sense because the majority of today’s humans have no natural sense of nature.  The Indians knew that periodic partial burning of brush, debris, and over crowded areas was healthy to nature and humans alike.  And they practiced it.  But, then came the white humans who have no sense of nature and its needs.  And they came in larger and larger numbers to California because they love warm weather and beautiful sights.
And so the human population of California expanded even after the gold ran out.  California’s gold became its beauty and gentle weather.  With no sense of mother nature’s needs, or their own inextricable connection to nature, they came, and came, and came.  They built houses where houses should never have been built.  They made sure for many years that every little spark or small fire was suppressed immediately because they needed to protect “their” property.
Grass and garden lovers that they were, they planted water hungry plants and trees in areas of very low rainfall.  To feed those thirsty plants, they captured water that should have run all the way into the waiting oceans.  Green lawns and huge trees grew where nature hadn’t intended as it wrung dry the rivers that were valiantly attempting to meet the ocean.  The rivers and ground water dried up as the trees and green grass grew.
While that was happening in southern California, the greedy humans of the world busily squeezed all of earth’s natural energy resources like there was no tomorrow.  And now, with global warming, that legacy may become all too true for our planet.
Five straight years of drought in southern California tried to bring attention to what humans were doing to the earth.  With no rain from the skies, and uncomfortably rising summer and fall temperatures, southern California half-heartedly and grudgingly made a few concessions to adding some wind power and solar power and grey water, and waited for the rain to return.  There was one brief year of celebration when snow returned in large amounts, (see, global warning is a hoax) once again filling reservoirs.  People delighted in the abundance of water again and returned to their wasteful water wasting ways.  Too bad about all the flooding that followed the rains and washed down huge areas of mud no longer held in by root systems of the trees that had burned.
And now we have arrived at a point in the world that the short-lived human species has not had to deal with during its existence.  Yes, there have been other times when our planet became too hot or too cold for human comfort, but that was before humans populated our planet.
I used to worry a lot about nature.  But, one day, it somehow became clear to me that nature would eventually survive.  It was humans that would have to adapt, or go extinct.
True, we have learned how to send people to the moon, how to kill cancer, how to design foods and babies more to our liking.  The hubris with which humans believe they can conquer all things is endless, and sometimes even endearing.
Are human nature and mother nature compatible?  Nature is running out of patience to show humans the error of their ways.  There’s a good reason why we call her Mother Nature.

I gravitate to non-fiction books about nature, but sometimes I find them overwhelmingly sad.  Author Carl Safina has a new book out called “The View From Lazy Point.”  It mostly centers around a wind-swept part of Long Island, New York, but also takes readers to the top (Arctic) and bottom (Antarctica) of the world, and to the Caribbean and Palau.  The news is mostly bad everywhere he goes in terms of  the human impact on nature.

In poignant English, he tries to sort out the complexity and depth of why we humans are destroying our own world.  He struggles with his desire to fish and hunt when he is capable of clearly seeing the cruelty inflicted on the victims, who, in turn, are disappearing from the earth.  He spends the night out on a commercial fishing boat and feels the shock of the fishermen reeling in a huge net that has captured — nothing!  “If you take all, you get nothing.”  Fishermen have been used to taking all and now are getting nothing.

He traces the intricate connections that are necessary to build the coral reefs that once filled our oceans.  And grieves for what is no longer there.  He tries to reason with his fellow humans to understand that the “problems of the environment are crucial matters of practical justice, peace, and morality.”  It’s not just a simple matter now of driving a bit less, using a bit less water, turning off lights.  “…we are by far the most magnificent, menacing creature of all time.  On Earth, at least.”

I haven’t read other books he has written about nature — “Voyage of the Turtle,” “Eye of the Albatross,” Song for the Blue Ocean,” but he ends his view from Lazy Point with optimism, hope, and a can do attitude if we really try hard enough.  Perhaps he truly believes this, or perhaps it is hopefulness born of desperation.  But he warns us, “It’s no small matter to go from letting birds and bass and seals recover to taking the giant steps required to rechill the poles, regrow the forests, refill the seas with fish, save the tropics, reefs, stablize the ocean’s chemistry, secure agriculture, quench the fire, tame the growth, recognize the finite possibilities, lighten up, and calm down.”

He is far more hopeful and optimistic than I about saving the planet.  For many years, I, too, was exceedingly upset about the destruction of our natural environment.  At some point, I realized that WE humans are the endangered species in nature.  Nature will survive without “the most magnificent, menacing creature of all time.”

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