Ed. Note: We are happy to share this reader response, which is part of a series developed by environmental science students at Loyola University Chicago from the course Environmental Sustainability.
So often we see humans distant from nature due to human’s natural instinct of competitiveness and idea of superiority. We must not blame ourselves for the industrialization of the world that has outpaced natural ways of life. However, we must accept the fact that due to our ignorance as a whole we are facing backlash from human interactions. Nature, in a nutshell, is the phenomena of the physical earth and all that is has to encompass. Looking at nature as a whole, humans are very minuscule in this large world; however, we leave a huge impact on nature because of our poor habits. Although, where this image is often skewed is when we talk about what humans due to that is not a part of natural life.
When nature is complemented with its natural ways of life, we see how healthy the environment is along with its beauty and aesthetic. When human interaction does not disrupt nature’s flow, we often do not see problems within the ecosystems, air quality, and possible future problems. However, when humans see themselves as separate from nature it is often tied to technological advances to promote only human life while nature around them suffers. This advancement has put humans so far ahead of other species and organisms that we have distanced ourselves from nature; subsequently, diminishing nature itself. Our unnatural ways of life have polluted the air, killed off species, and even changed the climate all over the world. We have become dependent on our selfish industrialized world and have begun neglecting nature. We have caused devastating changes to Earth because we want to use technology to make our lives more efficient, easy, and advantageous. As we continue to outgrow nature, the repercussions will continue to expand. The way that we must approach this increasing problem is to think of ourselves as an entire species tied with nature and when we selfishly benefit ourselves, we slowly diminish another species. The term “nature” must undoubtedly encompass all that is present on earth, insofar that we are not superior to it.
When humans are able to see themselves as a part of nature, rather than superior, only then will change begin to happen. When all species live coherently in nature, we will start to see the earth move towards a sustainable place to live for generations to come. Yet, while this would be ideal, it is not practical. Humans are social creatures and through socializing comes means of pollutions and harm to the environment. Through eating countless meat-based diets, to driving through cities, humans can never reciprocate the way we once lived as neanderthals. This does not mean that we should stop working towards being sustainable. As humans, we must use our intelligence as a species that often separates us from nature, to in fact help nature prosper.
The question that arises is: What do we do as humans to help nature? In order to answer this, we must first acknowledge that humans are what caused nature to need help. As social creatures, we naturally have a carbon footprint. One that we all must work to bring down in order to make the world a more sustainable place for all species to live. We need to “dig ourselves out of a hole that we originally dug up.” The global problem arising through ecosystems and weather is due to human interaction and disruptions of nature. As humans, we are a part of the primate family; primates natural diets derive from plants, thus a huge problem that we see today is the consumption of meat. If all humans could cut meat out of their diet for at least one day of the week, their water consumption would drop in thousands of gallons. If one person in the world is able to become a vegan, they save about 220,00 gallons of water per year due to the water it takes to produce milk, beef, and other animal-based products. Overall, it takes about one thousand gallons to produce just a single gallon of milk. Further, for every ton of meat, we humans use approximately 4 million gallons of water (Kretzer, p.1). Not only would this lower water consumption but help their carbon footprint, help lower pollution, and most importantly help nature restore some of its phenomena. There are a variety of ways we can help the environment and to “dig ourselves out of the hole we dug ourselves in.” From eating a natural plant-based diet to using public transportation, we can all implement these basic procedures to save the earth. (https://www.peta.org/blog/how-to-save-219000-gallons-water-year/ )
It is never too late to work with nature and slowly attach our origins back into our daily social lives to make the world a more sustainable place for today as well as the future. Once we can begin to change the little things in our daily lives we will see huge differences in the environment. Only then can we take huge actions to save this crisis we have been facing in recent years which has ultimately started because human have separated from nature. Essentially, we must work towards being a part of nature at all times because if we continue down the path at which we started we will only further harm and dwindle nature itself.