Beautiful and Abundant

Publisher Bryan Welch on philosophy, farming and building the world we want.

Add to My MSN

Birdwatchers, Noah and Other Remarkable Creatures

4/11/2006 12:00:00 AM

Tags: environment, diversity, overpopulation

Humanity is truly remarkable. Maybe we should take a moment, now and then, to appreciate just how unusual we are.
There's no other species — at least none that we know of — that even considers its impact on the environment. Everybody else just keeps eating and reproducing until they run out of food and water, then they die off until the habitat can again support their population.

If it sometimes feels like that's where we're going, at least we have the comfort of knowing that it's nature's way.

There's not another species that shows concern for the health of the environment. So maybe we shouldn't be too surprised that we're having a tough time getting the hang of it ourselves.

Generally the species of this world are concerned only with their opportunities for propagating their own genes. They don't overpopulate because some natural control prevents them from doing so. Predators. Disease. Starvation.

Humankind promotes a world in which biological diversity is preserved. And we've understood the value of diversity for a long time. The Judeo-Christian gospels support the concept in the story of Noah. "Two by two," and all that. Buddhist and Hindu sages have advocated concern for all creatures from the earliest days of those faiths. Jesus said God notices every sparrow that falls.

The survival of a frog or a sparrow bears no direct relationship to the health and welfare of human beings. There may, or may not, be an indirect connection. Yet we are concerned for our neighbor frogs and chickadees not only as abstract symbols of environmental health but as though the frog were important to us personally. We put pictures of them on our walls. We have statues of them in the garden. We want to save the whooping crane not just in order to maintain some theoretical biological balance. Many people love wild animals and suffer genuine feelings of loss when they are killed. Crowds flock to the beach to help save stranded whales. Birdwatchers congregate along the world's flyways to witness the beauty of the great migrations. We take a personal interest in the health and welfare of our fellow earthlings.

It's tempting, of course, to dwell on our failures. We haven't risen to the challenge of our best intentions. We're still degrading the environment, still allowing our population to climb, still driving other species into extinction.

And we may ultimately fail to achieve our potential. We may spoil our own nest. We could ruin our own habitat. Then we would, like other species before us, precipitate our own extinction, victims of our own success.

But it's miraculous, in some sense, that we can even consider it, that we can acknowledge the negative consequences of our prosperity. No other creature does, so far as we can tell.

And we do succeed, to various degrees, in living a little more gently than we might.

Photo by Bryan Welch

Related Content

Eyes on Central Pennsylvania Wildlife

WTAJ has partnered with the National Environmental Education Foundation and Project Noah to help sho...

Photos of Insects Reveal Extraordinary Beauty

Thanks to recent developments in photographic techniques, these ultra-detailed photos of insects mig...

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


10/24/2010 6:44:20 PM
It's been so many days since the disaster took place but the Haitians still bearing the horrible crisis created from that terrible moment. It's really your superhuman determination. I thank you whole heartily for being besides Haiti on that horrible moment. I think at this moment HAITI really needs help to be rebuild.Outgoing Haitian President René Préval has set the presidential elections for Nov. 28, 2010. According to ma justification, June 3, 1955) should be under consideration as a deserving personality, who can supply the best support and leadership as a president. Thank you.

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.