Monday, November 3, 2014

The People's War on Nature

Courtesy of
As I mindlessly scrolled through my Facebook feed a few days ago, a small notification popped up at the corner of my screen. One of my friends had shared a link on my wall. Not unusual for my group of friends, who all know how passionate I am about various social issues. But this article was different. It contained no cute pictures of animals, no GIFs of sassy women, no new political outcries.

It was an article from Parsnippety, titled Plants and Animals Vote Against War on People, Opting to Wait Them Out. If that doesn't catch your attention, what will?

I know it does not directly relate to the sustainable food systems of Vermont and the U.S., but climate change and the environmental movement are all about intersection. What is more relevant to food than the animals people tend to eat?

The short article by William Azalea is very cute in its presentation. It features "quotes" from "BioCongress" leader Elizabeth Steelhead Trout. Azalea imagines a meeting of local wildlife to vote on what actions to take against humans, who have launched a "comprehensive assault on them" throughout the past few centuries. The article subtly indicated the number of endangered species we currently know of: 217.
There are two hundred seventeen endangered species of animals and plants on planet Earth that we know of. As far as humans know, there could be hundreds or thousands more that are extinct or near extinct, and we just have not found them yet. It actually took me several read-throughs of this article before I realized the significance of this number, posed as a voting result.

Steelhead Trout points out that humans have destroyed so much natural habitat for these species that many have either gone extinct, or have been forced to live "in the foul, polluted conditions that their greedy habits and unthinking excesses have created." Ouch. Yet despite this act of war we have imposed on all wildlife, they have not declared war back. It can be argued that this is because animals and plants are not sentient beings that are capable of collectively taking up arms against the human race. I would attest to that. But are they not fighting back in their own way?

Courtesy of
When we abandon buildings such as the Minnesota farmhouse above, do plants not slowly overcome them? Does the Earth not take back its own? Small animals make homes and build families in these old, forgotten places. Tiny and frail blades of grass can push their way through black concrete. Nature takes back what humans stole from her.

Animals that have been restricted in their living and hunting grounds must find refuge someplace else. How many bear sightings have you seen in your area? Wolf sightings? Fox? How many livestock/pets/properties destroyed at the paws of these poor creatures who have literally nowhere else to go? Yet most humans fail to acknowledge this tragedy and continue killing these "ruthless predators" because they are "scary" or "dangerous." What many fail to realize is that this is our fault. Mice and rats infest our homes because we built them on the fields the poor rodents once lived in. Squirrels eat from our bird-feeders because we cut down their trees to build houses and fuel fires. Animals don't owe us anything. We owe them.

We owe them apologies, homes, food. We have pushed them to the brink of extinction and refuse to help pull them back.

Courtesy of Rob McKay Photography
So no, maybe this article does not directly relate to agricultural systems or sustainability. But if we continue clear-cutting forests for farmland and building empty houses, these animals will be further marginalized and eventually killed. Then what will the next generation do? There will be no birds singing, no fish for fishing (if that's what you're into), and no beautiful, untouched stretches of nature to inspire books like Walden, or poems like those from Alice Walker.

Take a moment to read this short piece. It's funny, it's cute, and it will help you appreciate that we still have Steelhead Trout to give us words of wisdom.

Also published on Sustainable Security

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