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Humans not only players in web of life

Humans not only players in web of life
Humans not only players in web of life
Judy O'Bannon

Wow! Did Mother Nature throw us a curve ball last week. Just as we were buying plants for our gardens and preparing for the Kentucky Derby’s outdoor events, she dropped our temperatures along with some snow. Earth Day, the annual spring day set aside to celebrate our astonishing natural environment, was buffeted by cold winds rather than the usual sweet spring air.

The many things we as humans have done that alter our planet are beginning to show the consequences of our negligent practices. Floods, droughts, hot weather and freezing conditions are cropping up in unexpected places and times. No longer can we afford to thoughtlessly do what we want in God’s bountiful world.

I have always been aware of the awesome environment in which we live. My mom was an avid gardener who spent hours enriching the soil with her homegrown compost pile. My dad was an outstanding photographer who could sit patiently for hours watching and recording a bird feeding its chicks or a flower unfolding. Thus, I try to use products that don’t pollute the air or water and recycle as much of my cast offs as I can.

But, I don’t think I totally felt an “in the gut” connection to all living things until this past year. My husband and I have been quarantined at our farm for more than a year now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We live in a converted barn that has large windows out of which we can see wildlife all around us. We realized that the huge old wooden logs that make up our walls provide for us shelter just like the discarded dead tree branches do for the rabbits and birds. All living plants and animals need the same life supports: nourishment, protection, companionship and purpose.

It is a “We” thing here on planet Earth. What happens to one affects what happens to all. I can’t flourish if what is around me is dying. We aren’t the autocratic boss of this system; we are one of the players in this total web of life.

As we experienced the changes of the seasons this past year, we found we were doing, in our own way, the same things as the plants, animals, insects and birds. In the spring, we joined the planting of new growth. In summer, we nurtured life around us. In autumn, we gathered in the resources that had been produced and prepared for a dormant period. Then, in the winter, we practiced a lifestyle that adapted to the cold conditions and prepared us for rebirth.

Many of the practices in manufacturing, consumption and citizenship that mankind has developed through the years have made it difficult to control what we do and how we do it. Plus, it is not uncommon to find out that policies and products we thought were going to make life better have been proven to have unintended negative consequences. For instance, when the product plastic was developed, we were excited about all the new possibilities for its use. Little did we know that it is predicted by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our waterways. Who would have guessed that it is estimated that every human being ingests the equivalent of one credit card of plastic weekly. Nor would we have predicted that 40% of our pollinating insects might be on the brink of extinction in 2021.

You might be wondering, in the larger picture, what is the big deal about the above dire consequences of today’s practices? Who should care?

We all need to be alarmed and concerned. It is well established that the natural environment can exist and flourish without humans, but we humans cannot survive without a diverse and healthy natural environment.

Think about that. Sobering, isn’t it?

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