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Frederick Newlin

Ms. Soring

AP English Language and Composition

17 January, 2017

The Nature of Nature

Nature is not a place to visit. It is a home. Gary Snyder, a man of letters, describes the

true value of nature perfectly in his original quote. We, as organisms that inhabit this Earth,

continually disrespect and trash the hand that feeds us, the planet that provides us with

nourishment and life. We are single-handedly destroying the primary reason for our existence

and the very hope that the human race has to survive. Everybody keeps their house clean, or at

least most everybody, because they dont find it pleasing to spend there life in constant disarray.

With that in mind, what is stopping us from applying the same principles to the Earth and nature,

our worldly home? Humans have a natural and moral obligation to contribute to the betterment

and protection of our planet, our home. Once we understand and realize that we are successfully

destroying our world, our responsibility to nature is to reestablish it as an essential human value,

to act upon said understanding to thusly prevent and/or slow future self-destruction, and to

restore the beauty and abundance that nature once held dominant over the Earth.

Humans have the capability of righting just about every one of our environmental

mistakes; we are just too selfish, believing that our personal gain and growth takes precedent

over the well-being of the planet. In reality, there are much more beneficial means of efficiently

utilizing our vast expanse of knowledge. Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, which discusses the

detrimental effects that humans have on the environment, exposes the issue saying One species
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- man - [has] acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world (Carson 799). Notice

that she did not identify mans relationship with nature as either positive or negative. She

specifically uses the word alter, implying that while we do possess the capability to completely

decimate the Earth and its beauty, we are equally as competent to revive nature and empower it

once again. According to her research, humans do in fact hold the necessary expertise to rid the

world of the environmental issues that weve plagued ourselves with. She states that we educate

and employ ecologists to handle the messes we have made and keep us in check, but we seldom

take their advice (Carson 803). Humans stand back apathetically as we play God and reign

terror onto countless other organisms homes for nothing but our own benefit. For instance,

humans have been using fossil fuels as our primary source of energy for well over 200 years.

Thats at least 200 years that we have been polluting the air and earth by burning fossil fuels. To

put that into perspective, solar panels have been around since the 1950s, only became popular

commercially in 2005, and as of the end of 2015, only make up around 1 percent of the worlds

total energy generation compared to oils 32.9 percent (World Energy Council 7-8; History of

Solar Cells). For at least 60 years, we have been able to use an alternative energy source and

have simply refrained from doing so. That goes for just about all other forms of the renewable,

smarter, energy sources (World Energy Council 7-8). Theyre cheaper to operate/install and

maintain, cause little to no pollution, will ultimately reduce greenhouse gases and global

warming effects, and have been sitting on the back burner of energy generation for years without

good reason, so there should not be anything stopping us from beginning to implement them on

an increasingly global scale (Richardson). Despite these facts, humans have decided to take their

time getting around to doing so. At the end of the day, we as a united human race can and should
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work together to reduce and end the damage that we are inducing on the environment and

ultimately ourselves.

Back before industrialization, before humans really began to tarnish the Earth, nature

was abundant and plentiful. We valued the world we lived in. Now, nature is a rarity. It is more

common to see a jungle of iron and cement than it is to see a real one. Only 17 percent of all the

land in the entire world has been left untouched by the plague of human ignorance (Marsh).

When its taken into account that a portion of the land is inhospitable to us, only 2 percent of the

worlds 57,268,900 square miles of land remains irrigable and immaculate (Marsh;

nationsonline.org). Our cities have overrun what used to be forests. Our farms have eaten what

were once open prairies. Our housing communities have destroyed woodlands and open terrains.

Continue to contaminate your bed, proclaims Chief Seattle of the Suquamish and Duwamish

tribes in his message to President Franklin Pierce in 1854, and you will one night suffocate in

your own waste (Seattle 824). We contaminate the Earth, our home, our bed, stripping it of its

brilliance, and we have been paying the consequences, killing ourselves slowly through pollution

and imprudent depreciation of nature. If we cease the pain that were inflicting upon nature now,

there is a chance that we may once again view our world in the brilliance and beauty that it used

to possess. The influence of the forms and actions in nature, is so needful, to man, that, in its

lowest functions, it seems to lie on the confines of commodity and beauty (Emerson 810). We

need nature. Economical and industrial use aside, the environment provides us with calm,

tranquility, and beauty that are scarcely found in modern societies. We need to reaffirm natures

position as a human value to once more witness the power that nature holds over us.
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Reestablishing natures importance to humans should in turn jump start a revolution that

could rejuvenate a natural world that humans have long since hidden under garbage and smoke.

The classic cartoon, This is the Forest Primeval -, by Herb Block depicts a future forest that

has been clear-cut; nothing but stumps remain. Titled by the opening line of Henry Wadsworth

Longfellow's Evangeline, Block is implying that if we continue on our current path of

destruction, then the generations to come will never know anything but stumps. They will look

back on our time and see fields of fallen trees and dead stumps. That will be the epitome of

natures beauty to them, because they will have never known anything but tree stumps (Block

892; Whitman 892). Plants and earthly nature aside, the stars, which to most of us are just lights

in the sky, will be nonpareil to the future humans that inhabit the planet. According to Ralph

Waldo Emerson, If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men

believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which

had been shown! (811). In a thousand years, should human light pollution persist, the stars that

we see each night will be such a scarcity in the eyes of the future generations, that it would be

equivalent to an individual today stumbling across a dinosaur. Even now, stars are but a mere

remnant of what they used to be. With more people living in urban cities than rural areas, 2/3 of

the Earths population have NEVER seen a truly natural night sky (Trembley). So, maybe it

isnt just the future generations that will stare in awe at the presence of stars. Maybe it is in fact

those of us now who have been shielded from the true beauty of the night sky, a sky that hasnt

been seen for approximately a thousand years.

Our habitual trend of killing nature, and ultimately our future perception of its beauty,

can be reversed though. Nature can and should be revived to its former beauty. Currently,
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humans are the only obstacle that stand in the way when it comes to restoring the natural beauty

that once inhabited the Earth. No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new

life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves (Carson 799). We continue to

infringe upon nature, taking advantage of its benefits as if we own it. For instance, according to

scientists from National Geographic, [about] 100 to 1,000 species [are] lost per million per year,

mostly due to human-caused habitat destruction and climate change (DellAmore). Although it

isnt possible to de-extinct these species (not without questioning morals at least), we can

prevent or slow further extinctions and provide suitable conditions to increase existing plant and

animal populations by reducing deforestation and our output of pollution. It would enable stable

habitats to resurface, and animals to populate would follow suit (Shultz). This said, there is

nothing preventing us from restoring a world meant for all to thrive in. By failing to

acknowledge our capabilities, it implies that we are selfish, unwilling to share the Earth and

coexist with other organisms. We cannot simply wait around for nature to resuscitate itself.

Someone or something must orchestrate its return, and if not us, then who?

Humans, and only humans, have an obligatory responsibility to return nature to its proper

glory on both the Earth and inside our minds. Seeing as we are the reason for natures current

plight, it is only logical for us to be the ones that are required to fix it. We are our only hope at

curtailing the seemingly inevitable, self-induced end of the world. We have lived on, in, and

throughout nature for the entire duration of our existence on Earth, and all we have done to repay

her generosity is trash and destroy the world. Nature is not just a home, as Gary Snyder put it;

nature is our home, and it is our job to make sure that our home stays healthy and clean.
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Works Cited

Block, Herb. "The Forest Primeval -." The Language of Composition: Reading, Writing,

Rhetoric. Ed. Renee Hausmann. Shea, Lawrence Scanlon, and Robin Dissin.

Aufses. Boston, MA: Bedford / St. Martins, 2008. 892. Print.

Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. The Language of Composition: Reading, Writing, Rhetoric. Ed.

Renee Hausmann. Shea, Lawrence Scanlon, and Robin Dissin. Aufses. Boston,

MA: Bedford / St. Martins, 2008. 798-804. Print.

Dell'Amore, Christine. "Species Extinction Happening 1,000 Times Faster Because of Humans?"

National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 30 May 2014. Web. 17 Jan.

2017.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Nature. The Language of Composition: Reading, Writing, Rhetoric. Ed.

Renee Hausmann. Shea, Lawrence Scanlon, and Robin Dissin. Aufses. Boston,

MA: Bedford / St. Martins, 2008. 798-804. Print.

"History of Solar Cells: How Technology Has Evolved." Solar Power Authority. N.p., 29 Nov.

2016. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.


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Kstle, Klaus. "___ The Earth." Nations Online Project. N.p., 2017. Web. 11 Jan. 2017.

Layden, Andy, and Shannon Smith. "Light Pollution." physics.bgsu. Bowling Green State

University, 2008. Web. 17 Jan. 2017.

Marsh, Bill. "Little Land on Earth Is Still Untouched." The Seattle Times. N.p., 30 July 2005.

Web. 11 Jan. 2017.

Richardson, Luke. "Solar Energy vs. Fossil Fuels: How Do They Compare?" EnergySage. N.p.,

03 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.

Seattle, Chief. "Message to President Franklin Pierce." The Language of Composition: Reading,

Writing, Rhetoric. Ed. Renee Hausmann. Shea, Lawrence Scanlon, and Robin

Dissin. Aufses. Boston, MA: Bedford / St. Martins, 2008. 823-24. Print.

Shultz, David. "Should We Bring Extinct Species Back from the Dead?" Science. Science

Magazine, 26 Sept. 2016. Web. 17 Jan. 2017.

Trembley, Bob. "History of Light Pollution." The Catholic Astronomer. N.p., 18 Mar. 2015.

Web. 17 Jan. 2017.

Whitman, Katy. "A Plea for Moderation: Analysis of "This Is the Forest Primeval-"." The

Language of Composition: Reading, Writing, Rhetoric. Ed. Renee Hausmann.

Shea, Lawrence Scanlon, and Robin Dissin. Aufses. Boston, MA: Bedford / St.

Martins, 2008. 892-93. Print.

World Energy Council. "World Energy Resources 2016." worldenergy.org World Energy

Council, 2016. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.


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