Nature is Really Smart. Damn It.

Nature is really smart. Damn it. When we pay attention to nature, we seem to get things right. When we don’t, we pay the price. By all measures.

Indigenous peoples are attentive to and respectful of the natural world around them and behave accordingly. Farmers all over the world do the same and work with nature every season of the year for every crop they grow within the climates in which they subside. The same can be said for undeveloped cultures across the globe, be it a migratory culture in Africa that follows water and food sources through an annual cycle or a fishing village on the North Sea. Nature is a teacher and source of life.

The real beauty of nature is its resilience. All natural systems have the innate ability to evolve and adapt to change and outside influences. Throughout history, species of living organisms have developed to address evolving environmental conditions — on land, in the air, and in the oceans. New species and subspecies of plants, insects, and animals will continue to be discovered. However, some of the conditions humans are imposing leave little room for resilience — it is the runaway abuse of these systems that leave them unable to adapt and find balance.

Global influences make being aligned with nature more difficult, and our world is experiencing the impact of these influences. Nature provides cues when these influences start to take hold, and it is up to humans to take action. Last week, facts revealed in the Fourth National Climate Assessment concluded that our behavior is detrimental to our best interests. Unsurprisingly, the report developed by 13 federal government agencies determined that these behavioral practices that conflict with nature are expensive in more ways than one. Each of these agencies utilized scientific data to determine that climate change is damaging the US economy, results that are consistent with what many have believed for decades. The report indicates that implications from climate change outside of the U.S. will affect import/export prices and business with overseas operations. Fires, floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes immediately impact the communities in which they occur, with some subtle and more difficult to recognize effects. Inconsistent farming yields leading to loss of income and famine in food-insecure regions, asthma and vector-borne diseases permanently altering quality of life, infrastructure damage that slows or prevents efficient international or national aid, alterations to migratory patterns of animal species that are relied upon for food or trade, changing weather patterns that eradicate irrigation and drinking water supply sources — these are just a few.

We have been warned for the past few decades that the implications of specific human behaviors are detrimental to all natural systems. Climate change is arguably the most visible and also the most polarized in politicized dialogue. For some, climate change may be the ultimate fake news. Nature knows better. We are living in an unbalanced world that will continue to decline unless we make dramatic changes in our behavior.

It is up to us to ensure that oil and coal are not the future opioid of our culture. To make decisions and act according to the science and not the politics. Nature does not understand or recognize political boundaries or ideologies, as it is the foundation for science. What can we do? Think globally and act locally. Change our behaviors knowing that the future depends upon what we do today. Model our decisions and behaviors after the patterns and processes of nature so that we will have a healthier, more prosperous, and more peaceful life for all people who share this planet.