What is symbiotic environmentalism? It is a way of environmentalism which realistically deals with balancing the needs for humans to develop, consume, reproduce, and advance technologically with our responsibility to act as stewards to the natural resources and other living organisms of the earth.
It is time for both environmentalists and industry to get real. Humans need energy, food, places to live, chemicals, and technology. People will almost always put people first. Even those of us who can come to terms with self sacrifice will often readily legitimize the destruction of the world around us when it comes to providing for those we feel responsible for, or the ones we love. What parents wouldn’t kill the last sea turtle to feed their starving child? What leader wouldn’t raze a mountain to feed a starving nation?
The reality is that environmentalism must be practical. Everywhere we turn there is an environmentalist telling us to “preserve”, “restore”, and “protect nature”. But what really is “nature”? Is it what was here, on Earth, before all human influence? Is it what we now have remaining in our specially protected “wilderness” areas? They are two very different things. Are we, humans, not also part of the Earth’s ecosystem too?
This is where “symbiotic environmentalism” is defined. It is in acknowledging that we, as humans, have already changed the world into a place that is far beyond ever restoring it to what it was before we existed, and that it is inevitably within our nature that we will continue to change it more. However, the symbiotic environmentalist sees their role in the future of the world as a steward to the plants, animals, and natural resources that interconnect us all, and not as merely a consumer, or even the parasites that we have been called. The symbiotic environmentalist casts off the antique idea that we humans, as the pinnacle of life on earth, have been given the earth to provide for us, and take up the idea that we are instead here to care for it. As the earth’s most advanced life forms it is our responsibility to nurture and provide for the eco systems which surround us, and to insure that the resources, plants, and creatures around us will remain plentiful and healthy for generations to come.
Symbiotic environmentalism is not about preserving “nature”. It is about looking for the most realistic ways to foster a healthy ecosystem that can sustain the world’s increasing human population. This means that sometimes we humans will have to adapt, but it also means that sometimes we will have to help the ecosystem to adapt to us. It’s about literally making our cities greener, integrating plants and wildlife with our agricultural, industrial, and urban needs. It’s about applying long term innovations that will meet our growing energy and resource needs, and quick solutions that will prevent us from passing on even greater problems for the generations to come.
Most importantly, it’s about making it practical.
The first step into the new and the unknown, is always the most difficult and frightening, but it is also the most amazing and memorable. Like Lewis Caroll’s Alice discovered, it takes courage to explore the world from a new perspective.
Won’t you step into the rabbit hole with us? As you might see, we are already very, very late.
Featured image “City of Nature” by Michal Sambora (Samborek)
Special thanks to this amazing artist who has been very supportive of our environmental efforts.