Nature on thin ice

While pondering on the recent news regarding Shell’s permit to pursue its exploration drilling programme in the Chukchi Sea, a few thoughts came up… firstly, it dawned on me that often, the disrespect of certain men towards nature, knows no bounds. It also occurred to me that an area which I, and several others, like to picture as pristine and best left untouched, was now being forced to open its gates to the greed of the more money-minded man. I remember when I was young, seeing a map of the world and thinking “wow, the Arctic and Antarctic must be so white and cold. Nobody could ever venture out there – those places will never change.” In hindsight, I was thinking as a child and was most definitely wrong.

Man goes everywhere. Call it exploration, adventures, safaris, scuba dives, space expeditions – it appears that he feels the need to go to that place which he has not conquered or inhabited…yet. The truth is that more often than not, man tramples into virgin areas instead of tiptoeing, and he makes no excuses as he is after all, the supposed best of the species. I would like to think that this ‘man’ is divided though, into the man who cares about others, including other beings and nature, and the man who is self-obsessed.  Man has grown from being a part of nature, to his self-promotion as ruler of nature with a super population of 7 billion. This number is expected to rise to 11.2 billion by 2100. So, we are now in the Arctic where Shell is exploring possible oil reserves for the benefit of human beings, or so it says – energy must be provided for the comfort and well-being of the 7 billion. What I would like to know is what will be exploited next, or over-exploited, in the name of humanity?

Whether we admit it or not, I believe that we all need nature – we try to find it when our lives become too hectic, when we are desperate to get away from the urban crowds and decide to take a trip somewhere to reconnect with nature… we have gardens, we have plants and flowers, and we have pets we love, all in a conscious or subconscious attempt to keep that connection alive while we wait to get out there, in the wild, surrounded by greenery, deserts or the seas. Some of us find it on mountain and forest trails. But even some of those trails are now being over used, and are suffering from the presence of crowds of people. Where will this nature be in a few years? On a planet with already limited space, and an ever increasing population, urban sprawl is set to be a common phenomenon, and our housing and infrastructural needs will require the banishment of nature. We will build over, across and into it, and we will use its resources to benefit our giant and obtrusive constructions.

Maybe in 2100, we will no longer be looking for nature, as it is nature who will be trying to find a way to circumvent us as a species. In hindsight, we might then think of how we could have tried harder in our approach towards sustainable development and apply measures to develop renewable sources of energy, to control population growth, all to protect a nature on which we depend.  At earthikes, we like to think that all is not lost. We will give the chance to an ever growing community of educated people in search of nature, to form part of a bigger movement to protect those areas, to prevent damage to unspoiled lands and to respect what must be admired and not tampered with.  Because in the end, we believe that it is partly the duty of our small but strong community of trekkers and guides, to protect and nourish that better half of man and ensure that his voice is also heard, and his values allowed to make a difference.

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