|Grateful for Mother's Green Infrastructure
This Thanksgiving, Im thankful for the bounty of the Earth in broader terms than food. I dont want to take for granted how much thats essential Nature provides for our life and well-being.
Were starting to wake to the preciousness of water, as aquifers become depleted, rain comes down acid, streams kill fish and drinking water must increasingly be filtered or bought.
Oxygen bars thrive in polluted cities, where the air outdoors poses a health hazard. We are fortunate in more rural areas to breathe cleaner air but still here the public air supply is deteriorating. Ask the growing number of people like me who are chemically sensitive.
Plants make oxygen; in the stratosphere, ultraviolet radiation changes it to ozone. In turn ozone protects us from dangerous UV and other, shorter wavelengths. Still we depend on appropriate radiation, to fuel photosynthesis.
Similarly we need some greenhouse effect: its warming the Earths surface permits life as we know it. But fossil-fuel combustion wrecks the balance, and still humans take climate and sea-level for granted while we destroy the worlds great forests, our main protection.
Soil: that miracle of life many think of as ordinary dirt, and the many organisms that make up a healthy soil that nourishes plants.
Plants give us so much more than food and oxygen. Flowers, evolved for plant reproduction, lift the spirits of human beings: what an interesting result. Imagine your neighborhood without trees. The thought makes me agoraphobic, oppressed by too much open space, unprotected without those sentinel shade-beings.
Animals give us more than food, too, and not just domesticated ones. Have you seen otters playing in the Squanacook River? As Thoreau said, "In Wildness is the preservation of the world."
We are just beginning to value biodiversity, to suspect that losing species forever has an impact on the quality of all our lives. We will never know what we are losing: foods, medicines, beauty.... Something more intangible too. Being human means having evolved as part of the whole ecosystem of the planet. Evolution doesnt move as fast as progress. Parts of our minds we may dismiss as primitive still move us with a primal connection to the whole, inspire us and sustain us in ways civilized life deadens.
So little do we really understand yet about ecology, about the intricate web of interdependence in which Mother Nature holds all life on this planet. May we treat it with respect and humility.