Two weeks ago, I presented a message at church intended to alert people to the importance of the natural world and the necessity of re-establishing our sacred relationship with Mother Earth. The message started with the first book of the Bible, the story of creation and ended with the last book of the Bible, the destiny of creation. I have been troubled since with the inability or unwillingness of people to accept the devastating impacts we have had on the life sustaining elements found only in our natural surroundings. We have truly alienated ourselves from what has been labeled as “The Natural World.” With the aging of our society and the focus on individuality and the mechanization of our life style, nature has lost its reality and become almost a figment of our imagination. Something nice to talk about but not really anything to be concerned about. After all, earth belongs to us and we are the masters of the planet and everything on earth. I think about the few individuals that have been trying for the past decade to alert us, with little success, of the devastating demands we have been requiring from Mother Earth. It is apparent our 2020 election will intensify the debate over global warming and climate change, with several candidates already attempting to highlight these issues. Observing the raging debate within our Western society, resulted in my need to express how our attitudes and values effect our actions.
I began thinking that if we believe earth belongs to us and we are to take dominion over it and all lesser forms of life, then our highly developed intelligence can provide the opportunity to manipulate and change other species to meet our desires. It all started with early human efforts to domesticate a variety of plant and animal species to serve humans. Seemed like the right thing to do, after all they were simply lower parts of the food chain required for survival. Little did we know what domestication would lead to. Science and technology today, is just beginning to identify the positive and negative results of our historical domestication efforts. True, domestication has provided abundant supplies of grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts to feed the masses but are there adverse consequences? We are just beginning to learn that plants in the natural setting have a hidden life which allows them to communicate with other plants and animals plus care for and feed other adjacent plants. Domestication and row crop planting, destroys these natural social connections leaving the plant void of its hidden natural life systems. This is true of trees planted in plantations where all trees are the same species and age class. In addition to eliminating the plants social connections, we destroy the bio-diversity found in natural forest communities. We then exacerbate the problem by introducing non-indigenous species to increase growth rates or avoid disease problems. There are numerous examples of human manipulation by introducing non-indigenous species with devastating results. Here in Virginia, we have an excellent example of an introduced non-indigenous plant that is out of control, kudzu. Kudzu was brought to the southern states of American for soil stabilization in the 1800’s and has become a major problem as it chokes out other tree and plant species and can even completely cover houses and other buildings. This plant is so invasive it is frequently referred to as the “mile a minute vine.” Wild horses are another example of an introduced species able to expand their numbers thus requiring population control to prevent competition with domestic livestock and range land destruction. Observe what we have done to chickens by hatching and raising new chicks in incubators. Most hens today have lost their mother instincts and are unable to hatch and raise a brood of chicks.
Examples of our ingenious efforts to domesticate and manipulate plant and animal life are numerous and inevitably lead to disastrous impacts on our natural world. We believe our intelligence is so advanced, we now are attempting to genetically alter several different species of plants and even animals. Vegetables are being altered to improve their appearance and increase storage life. I no longer recognize the variety of apples in the stores and tomatoes are brighter colored and the skins are so tough you have to peel them. Wheat has been altered to increase production, resulting in the medical field reporting the inability of the humans to digest modern day wheat and being the major cause of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Our advanced ingenuity has brought many interesting changes but what adverse impacts have occurred to our natural world? Has the natural world become so abstract, we are no longer capable of comprehending our human impacts on Mother Earth and the future of human life? The industrial revolution and advance scientific knowledge has flourished over the past 200 years but, what does the future hold?