I don’t remember in childhood the very defining moment when my love of nature began, but it might have been when I saw an animal or plant of vivid color. With childlike amazement I still feel that way. Something of such intense hue though, you might question if it is natural. But as a kid everything is real, even things that aren’t.
When you see an animal or bird confined to a zoo, you might ask if it is nature? Zoos are such a hot button issue with some thinking them pitiful prisons for the confined animals. Others look at them as places to conserve animals on the verge of extinction, and others look at zoos to educate our youth. But the fact remains, they are a poor substitute for nature.
We play with nature hybridizing all kinds of new plant colors and combinations. We mix genes of different organisms to create better and long-lasting food products with genetic engineering (GMO). Science manually adds new DNA to an organism. Mostly done with plants, it affects animals being fed genetically modified corn and soy. It effects the offspring and is now shown or at least highly suspected to produce adverse physical deformities and ailments in animals eating this monoculture diet. Food products are drenched in glyphosate. How about the cats that glow in the dark? Child-like amazement or mad science?
When you see a bird in a park, you might ask is it nature? Are these spaces habitat for a variety of birds, animals, insects, or other organisms or is their benefit the corridors and greenways to link natural habitats? Is their real benefit more for people? After all urban green spaces foster a connection between community residents and the natural environment that surrounds them. Natural areas promote livability and vitality in communities with recreational opportunities, good air, improved water quality and scenic beauty. And you find lots of people in them, not the peace and quiet animals prefer.
What about manmade ponds, are they nature? Almost every time they are added for recreational activity or aesthetic benefit to a property. The wildlife that comes is a perk.
Or a butterfly in a conservatory, is it nature? Like zoos, these creatures are for our entertainment, not necessarily that of the insect. They live in intriguing natural settings and the conservatory showcases the colorful appeal of the flowers and insects. Does this aesthetic result in a greater awareness of the environment or a better understanding of our role in preserving natural habitats? They promote them in this manner. I never felt environmentally responsible in an enclosed structure housing insects from all parts of the world. It is surreal to think this is nature in the natural sense of the word.
Nature seems to be inherently a creation without human intervention, but there is not much of that left in this world. Are we getting to the point where the defining line of nature is blurred? Is there so little nature that people actually access other than on a computer or TV screen? It seems from the standpoint of nature, we are getting priorities mixed.