Messing with Mother Nature . . .

If one way be better than another, that you may be sure is Nature’s way.  ~Aristotle

Let us permit nature to have her way.  She understands her business better than we do.  ~ Michel de Montaigne

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.  ~ Albert Einstein

Mother Nature is a very strong force in our world and a very fragile one. Remember the old commercials “It is not nice to fool Mother Nature”? Technically, I don’t think we can fool her, but we can mess her up pretty badly and have. (pollution, land destroyed for development, excessive noise, global warming, etc… not to mention one of the worst messes happening as I write in the gulf) and when we mess with mother nature, she usually hits back with force. There are consequences to everything humans do to the nature around them … we do a lot of harm, but we are capable of doing very good things, too.
When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.  ~John Muir

Tornadoes in the midwest this week show the strength of nature. We can not mess with a tornado … just get out of it’s way and clean up afterward. Hurricanes, blizzards, winds, earthquakes, are all natural phenomena that we really have not found a way to “mess with”, yet. We study and develop warning systems, but we can not prevent or mess with them when they happen. Should we even want to if there are going to be unknown consequences?

There are smaller, less powerful aspects of nature that we mess with all the time because it is relatively easy and we are usually trying to help. In my opinion, many things we do are helpful and improve nature especially when we are cleaning up one of our messes, learning more about our planet or trying to save a species. However, even with the very best “helping” intentions, sometime things still go wrong. Exactly when is it okay to intervene in nature? That is the big debate going on in many places on the net this week … all because more and more people are watching nature unfold minute by minute.

Live nature webcams that are popping up all over the internet and growing in popularity. There are millions of people who are watching the lives of animals in real time. People who rarely gave nature a second thought are now emotionally attached to bears, hummingbirds, loons, owls, eagles .. you name it, there is a webcam somewhere (one site is: wildearth.tv) If you follow any of these nature reality shows, you will be immediately tossed into the midst of the “don’t mess with mother nature” discussion … There are some very passionated debates going on about whether we should be intervening when mother nature is not kind to the animals we are watching.

Hope from bear.org

Hope, the abandoned bear cub … there were three paths to take with very opinionated views supporting each one. They were .. 1) rescue her and take her to a facility to grow up protected, 2) no human intervention of any kind, and 3) giving her “limited” help (the later is currently being implemented). Researchers have set up feeding stations (pans of milk, fruit, nuts) by trees familiar to the cub … Knowing that little cub I saw born was alone, hungry, and getting sickly was a very sad thing … a simple thing like providing the milk the cub does not have access to has made her strong and kept her wild. It is also is allowing the researchers to learn so much more about bears. Personally, I think this was a great solution but, many others are upset by it.

Nesting Birds … Yesterday, on the loon nest web cam site (watch the loons) one of the eggs fell into the lake (again .. it happened a few days ago, also). The dilemma … should the egg be retrieved and put back in the nest? The first time it fell in, it was returned to the nest. This time, it was decided not to return it. The reasoning goes like this … the eggs hatching due date is past … if the egg fell in the lake and we were not watching, it would not have survived any way. By putting the eggs back, are we dragging out the most likely scenario at this point (the eggs are not viable) keeping the parents attached to the nest. The parents are sure dedicated to hatching these eggs and if you watch, you can’t help but want that baby chick to hatch for them.

There have been groups for years trying to get people to respect nature, think about how they treat their environment, and realize how precious every living thing is to the survival of our planet … these web cams are doing that. And, along with it some very emotional debates on how much help/interference should be going on. … watching these things occur in nature creates sentiment and emotional attachment to the animals and now some great debates. I think one facebook fan at Lily the Bear said it best when he commented … “this is turning into a study of human behavior as much as it is the bears.”

However, our human compassions also cloud our judgement. How much “help” and interference can we give to these creatures we are watching without messing up mother nature too much? When is our helping, really just harming?

This discussion reminded me of the well-known Starfish Story, so I will end with it.
(an adapted version from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley):

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “I made a difference to that one!”

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~ by bearyweather on June 7, 2010.

One Response to “Messing with Mother Nature . . .”

  1. Love the quotes on nature. There is much wisdom that nature provides us. Nature is what will always win over the long haul. Love the starfish parable, always one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing.

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