WHAT LIES BEHIND THE SYSTEM'S
NEED TO DESTROY WILDERNESS?
(Translations: Beatriz Padilla)
1 Psychological -- People are still afraid of the wild, from a deep, primitive reaction to how we used to be…at its “mercy”
2 Material -- People are greedy, and nature is wealth
3 Personal – we are “too clever”…think we are smarter than nature
4 Self-centered--- we only think of what we need, not where it comes from
The most important thing is to
learn why we destroy, because then we are starting to learn how to
change…simple protection is only temporary… So this is one of the main
things the WWC is about, ie, in addition to all the policy and good
science and business, we try to get to the root of the issue by
making conservation and wild nature a personal story, a cultural
experience, so it can be translated into effective solutions that
people WANT to do.
It is an important question. It seems to me that there are several layers of motives:
1. Decision-makers’ lack of
appreciation and sensitivity when promoting land-use changes. A
classic: in the 70’s, politicians used to call forests "idle lands" and
in a swift swing of the pen great extensions of wilderness were
assigned as places for new population centres and farmlands. Today, too
many people still consider wild areas as "no man’s land" and they
joyously seek to use them as remedies for unresolved problems generated
2. The greater affluence of our
society and the consumer’s lack of awareness about local and global
implications of purchasing more and/or cheaper.
3. Lack of humbleness of
decision-makers, technicians, scientists, environmentalists, etc. in
their inability to listen and learn form local inhabitants of wild
areas. And not only for listening but also for empowering them so that
they may have access to the elements that will allow them to protect
and even transform the places they inhabit, in such a way that makes
sense to all, including nature. Ixtlan (de Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico), is
an example that “yes it can be done".
4. At some point in time the
human system will have to understand that a line must be drawn on the
ground and say, from her to yonder, even if painted green (ecological
houses, organic coffee, fair trade, etc.), no changes will be allowed
that may interfere with, for example, the jaguar’s habitat or other
species that require functional wilderness.
Fifth, I would say that
“metalizing” the value of nature is a promising step. In a society
where the economic value is increasingly important, recognizing the
economic value of environmental goods and services, for their sheer
existence as well as for the damage that may be brought unto them, can
prompt the world’s society, increasingly urban and increasingly
detached from nature, to team up with rural society in caring for what
These are some thoughts.
Before clicking on “send”, I just wish to add that it seems to me
that the various international agreements since 1972 have served a lot,
but not enough unless society makes them theirs and does her share at
the personal and collective levels.
A good question. The answer is a matrix of interacting layers which are:
1 Wrong economic theories and practices, implemented by wrong economic tools
2 Outdated belief system
3 Distorted underlying value system
4 Enormous power, both in our
means to destroy (technology) and in the means special interests have
to influence the layers above through manipulation, corruption,
propaganda, mind control, lobbyism
I am not sure if I would call it “system's needs”. It is more the dynamics the system is caught up in.
Clearly behind it is an
outdated economy, whose theories are at least 200 years old and come
from a time when there were few humans, economic activity was small,
technology modest and few people around. So the resource input was seen
as free. The lack of properly accounting natural resources is a
concrete driver of destruction.
We then started to measure
human progress as the increase in sale and consumption of goods and
services, the GDP, and not in the increase of well-being.
Then it is the economic
worldview which has developed. The role of economy today is not to
provide meaningful income and stability for a maximum of people it is
short-term profit. So there are two drivers:
1 Short-term: all our main
systems are geared to short-termism (capitalism, democracy) and
humans have become even more short-term oriented.
2 Materialism has replaced a
much more complex value system and money has become the essence of
matter. Financial profit has replaced growth in personality, wisdom,
The transition into a different
world is in full swing. Just look at the many initiatives that go into
the right direction and notice how the world views of people you are
familiar with are changing. It is a gigantic struggle between two
giants: Business as usual which runs down the planet and the transition
into a sustainable and more equitable world. The former is artificially
maintained through all the money those who benefit from it can use to
prevent the transition - but they are on a lost post.
From the Belly of the Beast
I am a part of nature, no
better or worse than the termite, turtle or tiger. But I have become
this planet's auto-immune disease. In other words, I am the enemy I
seek to vanquish. I am undoubtedly an intelligent mind, but I am
trapped in a disobedient carbon-fueled lifestyle. The monster is my
false ambition, fed by my own insecurity and my inflated self-image,
which leads me to forget that I am poorly equipped to survive without
the living planet I have begun remorselessly to attack.
Selfishness, a short-term
vision, blindness, narcissism (not being able to see beyond one's
self-reflection), lack of connection with nature and Mother Earth,
overwhelming rationality and technology-oriented thinking, an
over-emphasis on the left-hemisphere of the brain, an ensuing
disconnection from feelings and emotions (specially universal love and
compassion), a materialistic vision of reality that ignores and
neglects spirituality, not being able to see wholeness, just seeing the
individual trees sand not the forest as a whole, the belief that
nature, wilderness is only material and not an energetic whole, not
being able to see interconnectedness, that our energy field is
interconnected with the planet's energy field, and ultimately the
Just a few ideas that came into my mind
Nowadays we live very
disconnected from the natural world. And this distance makes it very
easy to bypass something as dramatic as overfishing, deforestation,
open-pit mining, etc. These seem something so foreign to us, one of
those problems we see on TV, and we stop at feeling sorry. But
truth is it does affect us. We live in a planet with finite resources
where we cannot dream of having unlimited growth, because one of these
days, there will simply be no more resources.
Beyond the obvious, I believe
that the two main reasons that account for why humans destroy
wilderness (all of us, now and always) are:
Firstly, because of fear. We
are descendents of proto-human ancestors that had to survive in the
wild with VERY basic elements, without knowing fire, tools, weapons,
and had therefore VERY FEW chances to defend themselves from the
elements, animals, climate, drought, nights, frosts, etc, etc. We all
store this memory in our DNA, and therefore each little conquest to
strengthen our existence against everything wild, became - and still is
– a victory AGAINST Nature, who thence has remained for thousands of
our mortal enemy.
The later stage in our more
“civilized” evolution, beginning to respect and adore Nature, making
offerings and calling her Mother Earth, still holds a bit of that same
experiential origin. We have to be on good terms with Nature because if
she gets upset she will finish us off. Again, underlying fear:
At a later stage we became
invincible and moved on to subject, exploit and use Nature for our own
convenience as antropos-stupidus, we became conquerors and declared her
our enemy: "we fight against Natire." Hence we "advance" more and more,
until we reduce her to "resources" as we do now. Use her, profit from
heryou’re your COMFORT and WELL-BEING while she is reachable, no need
to think about tomorrow because in any case she regenerates by herself.
At the next stage some of us
realize that she does not threaten us, she is not our enemy, we owe our
lives to her, we owe her offerings and gratitudes, we need her for
survival, and if we do not care for her we are doomed. If we do not
restore her, if we do not become one with her, we are nothing, and
therefore we become homos-permaculturalis.
We use science, technology, not
to continue exploiting her but to imitate and work with and not against
her, to assure the survival of our species.
¿A future stage?
In México in 1972, the National
Commission of Land-Clearing and Farming Promotion. This was active
until 1983. Its goal was to disappear 15% of Mexico’s forests so as to
create economically profitable lands through livestock and
Wildlife understood as flora
and fauna is considered an idle active by the economy’s traditional
sectors. Wild animals and wild lands are considered idle because they
do not generate an economic income for local inhabitants. Nevertheless,
it is these idle lands that keep Natures equilibrium. Without forests
floods increase and rain-patterns change.
We need wilderness to sustain environment al equilibrium on the Planet.
There are non logging-related
products that can be used in these wild lands: Mushrooms, herbs, seeds,
roots and fruits can be obtained from wild lands without damaging the
Is there a primal wound underlying it all?
Interesting. How would a wound
of ours (what type of wound?) as human beings feed a compulsion to
destroy Mother Earth? This statement smells like a sort of vengeance of
being expelled from paradise. Tricky stuff -even as a Christian
precept. I would think it is far less sublime than that. You may
want to elaborate further; as is I would not bet my 2 cents upon
I have to agree with Jürgen. My
sense is that we have essentially become ingrates... malcontents... No
one and nothing 'harmed' or 'wounded' us... we just slowly turned
rotten at the hands of those four horsemen of our Apocalypse...
arrogance, avarice, ignorance and apathy.
Leslie Pascoe Chalke:
Archetypally there is a drive
to slay the mother, which we see in many ancient myths (sometimes
expressed as the drive to slay the dragon, and other combat
mythologems). This drive to slay the mother, however, is a metaphor for
the individual's drive toward separation, toward initiating our path
towards independence and individuation. When metaphors are taken
concretely, however, we fail to see the symbolism and act on the exact
images the metaphor is using to convey an ulterior message.
Archetypally, death is a symbol of transformation. The old must die for
the new to be born, but it would be a grave mistake to take it
literally as killing.
Unfortunately, we have an
unfounded fantasy that we are superior to nature. A fantasy that has
grown out of all magnitude with our over emphasis on reason, on
rationality, on science, our prioritizing the left brain (rationality)
over and above the right brain (emotions, the unconscious, dreams). Our
attacking nature is the result of a decision taken by men of giving
priority to the brain over the heart. Our attacking nature is an
expression of our disconnection from our essence, from our
spirituality, from our core. In order to avoid destruction, it is
imperative that we change direction, inside and outside.