Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Friday, June 19, 2009

Tales from the Trenches: "We Have Conquered Nature"

As I was about to leave the office today, I could hear two of my male coworkers having some serious discussion about something "deep." I don't know what it was about exactly, but I had a feeling that I'd better stay out of it.

But I did overhear this comment from the younger one..."we have conquered nature, at least for now."

That's when I turned up my ipod. That was a conversation that I really needed to stay out of.

But I can't stop thinking about it. We have conquered nature? Are you kidding me?

First of all, clearly my coworker, who is a 28-year-old proud slacker male, does not have a yard to care for. Believe me, pavement is NOT forever. Otherwise, I wouldn't have to keep pulling up all those darn dandelions and grasses that keep breaking up and through concrete and brick. I don't know how it happens, but you can't keep them down. That's pretty impressive (and annoying!)

But seriously, I don't believe we've conquered nature at all. But we are so arrogant that we actually think we have. Or at least we think we can "manage" it. We have done so much to control and castrate the wildness of our land that we believe we are its masters. Not true. The wildness and danger are still there.

Why do I believe we have NOT conquered nature? Here are a few reasons.

1. We are not immortal. We can still die. That is the greatest natural process of all.

2. Earthquakes can still kill hundreds of thousands.

3. Hurricanes can still decimate cities.

4. Houses built on "controlled" flood plains are still flooded.

5. Viruses and bacteria are developing new strains that are resistant to previously effective drugs. Case in point is the multi-drug resistant tuberculosis that is rampant in developing countries. I thought we'd conquered that right?

I would highly recommend Jared Diamond's book "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed." Many other cultures and civilizations have assumed that they too were the masters of the land and the supreme being. But ultimately, nature conquered them because they took their environment and their place in it for granted.

We haven't conquered anything.

1 comment:

Bea Elliott said...

This always humbles me when I think that we've "conquered nature": Everything would survive fine without us. In fact most life on the planet would thrive... However, in all our grandure and pompousness - we would quickly perish if abandoned by the honey bee.

And I agree... pulling weeds is a great reminder of the resiliancy of nature. :)