Respect for the natural world – Opinion – The Hutchinson News

To paraphrase the Olivia Newton John popular hit of the 80s, Lets get Meta-Physical.

Roughly speaking, metaphysics refers to ideas outside material reality; existing in the realm of the mind rather than the physical world. While not necessarily referring to religious doctrine, ancient civilizations around the world adopted a female deity to explain the nature of the world; from the Aztec Coatlicue, the Roman Terra Mater, Chinese Nu Gua, to the Greek Gaia, almost every culture adopted this archetypal female figure. In the Middle Ages, Natura became the personification of the natural world that evolved into the contemporary model of Mother Nature.

What is the relevance of these philosophical concepts to our current condition?

In the 70s, respected scientist and inventor James Lovelock proposed the Gaia hypothesis suggesting the Earth functions as a self-regulating system. An environmentalist and futurist he theorized that as Earth worked to maintain optimal conditions to sustain life, it could include mechanisms to address external events that threaten natures balance including harm done by civilization. Reminiscent of a decades old commercial featuring an actress who warned Its not nice to fool Mother Nature," followed by her summoning lightning, thunder, and other disasters.

In truth Lovelocks view deserves more serious consideration than a Madison Avenue ad campaign or the wild-eyed ravings of a deranged tree-hugger.

The view of a model for infectious diseases is that epidemics such as AIDS, Ebola, SARS and possibly the current pandemic of COVID-19 are a result of civilization interacting with nature. Simply put disease is often an environmental issue.

In the 1920s it was the consumption of game butchered by African hunters that first resulted in AIDS crossing over from chimpanzees into humans.

The heavy smoke from burning Indonesian rain forests in 1997 prevented the normal development of fruits. Bats native to the affected area flew to Malaysian orchards to feed, carrying with them a deadly disease. Pigs feeding on fallen fruits containing fluids transmitted from the bats, fell ill and an epidemic followed.

Scientific evidence suggests with these series of events, diseases normally confined to wildlife are spilling over to human populations. Increasing human encroachment into disease hot spots emerging diseases have increased four-fold in the last 50 years.

In 2016 the accelerated melting of permafrost in polar areas of Siberia released pathogens from carcasses of long dead animals resulting in an outbreak of anthrax. Scientific teams determined 30,000-year-old viruses trapped in the permafrost could be revived.

The key to forecasting and preventing the next pandemic, experts say, is understanding what they call the protective effects of nature and knowing where to be vigilant as humanity encroaches on previously undisturbed natural habitats.

The progress of civilization neednt come to a standstill but it must be tempered by understanding of both the protections and potential threats that follow by disregarding the importance of a healthy respect for nature.

Kathie Moore, rural Hutchinson, is a freelance artist, retired from the U.S. Postal Service. Email her at klmnews45@gmail.com.

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Respect for the natural world - Opinion - The Hutchinson News

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