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Changing the mindset of “us versus nature”

It seems to have become commonplace for us to read and write about competition between human beings and nature: the war against weeds, beating the bugs or battling against the elements.

Talk such as this serves to accentuate a separateness between nature and ourselves – it becomes a case of us versus them, human beings against the rest of nature. Yet we have evolved from other creatures on this planet, and we depend upon other living beings for our survival. We are a part of nature, not separate from it.

Nature is powerful but nature is also balanced. Our attempts to control it disrupt the very harmony upon which its continued healthy function hinges.

The butterfly effect was initially used in theories of weather prediction, when the scientist Edward Lorenz noticed that what seemed to be insignificant rounding of data in his weather model could produce a markedly different outcome. A metaphor was coined to suggest that the small change in air flow created by a butterfly flapping its wings could affect the path and timing of a tornado some weeks later.

We cannot ever know, let alone predict, the repercussions from our attempts to break nature up into its constituent parts and to control them. However what is certain is that in the long run nature will always win and the harmony and balance on which its continued function depends will eventually be restored, every if many millennia from now.

The sooner that we, human beings, start behaving as if we were a part of nature, the greater our chances for survival within the complex web of life on earth. Changing the way we speak about the world around us might facilitate such a changed mindset.