In It Together

In my youth, I couldn’t get enough of Nature. My thirst for learning about the natural world just wouldn’t be quenched. It started with the birds in our backyard fueled by Dad’s enthusiasm for them. Then it was the trees. Then roadside wildflowers and yes, roadside weeds, too.

As I grew up and continued my pursuit of learning about Nature, I discovered that there seemed to be a field guide for everything. With identification tips and cool facts about each species, they brought the world closer to me and my passion grew. After all of these years, I still have the first field guide I ever received though its binding is torn and pages fall out. Mom had written my name on the cover page and tucked it in my Christmas stocking. The year was probably 1969. What a thrill to hold The Golden Nature Guide to the “Most Familiar American Birds” in my hands for the first time and flip through its pages! There and then, this nine-year-old felt that pocket field guide issued a 160-page challenge: I would learn all of those birds by heart. Wherever we went, I took my bird book along and used every extra minute to memorize its pages. Drawing and painting some of the color plates also helped to commit them to memory.

Five decades later, my bookshelf is full of field guides mostly acquired before on-line identification tools became available. If I have mastered anything through my years of studying field guides and Nature, it is humility for the more I learn, the more I discover what I can never know. My understanding is and always will be incomplete. The intricacies and interconnections seem endless. And the diversity of life on our planet is mind-blowing.

Unfortunately, that diversity—macro-life and micro-life—is dwindling every year. Before we may ever fully comprehend the meaning of the losses, species known to us or species never to be discovered by us are lost forever. Ecological balances understood and not yet understood are irreversibly changed. Ripple effects spread across the system forever becoming marks of “progress” on the scorecard of humanity. All while the diversity of life on our planet is a major key to our own resiliency and survival as a species.

Unless we seriously change our ways and place a priority on Environment in all areas of our lives, businesses, and communities—including and especially the voting booth—we will continue moving toward a world less rich, less healthy, and less able to sustain human life. This magnificent diversity, from the glamorous to the funky living things each play a part in the web of interrelated life in our biosphere and we are “one organic miracle linked to others,” to quote Pulitzer Prize winning author and scientist Edward O. Wilson in The Future of Life (2002, Knopf). E.O. Wilson goes on to write, “The natural environment we treat with such unnecessary ignorance and recklessness was our cradle and nursery, our school, and remains our one and only home.”

Yes, we are in it together with all of the organisms on Earth. Extinction of any species is like forever losing a part of ourselves whether we fully understand those connections now or not.

Keeping Nature Central is about placing a priority on protecting natural habitats in robust form so that the organisms with which we share our planet have a fair chance at a future and so future generations of people have a fair chance, too. John C. Sawhill said, “In the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create, but by what we refuse to destroy.” Looking at this quote another way we can ask: What will we refuse to destroy on this planet for the sake of our children and their children? How will our love for them be demonstrated through the quality of the home and society we pass along to them?