I’ve always been amazed at the wide diversity of nature – the colorful plumage of birds, the shapes of leaves, the vast array of plants, insects, mammals, reptiles and fish, the extremes of mountains and valleys, seas and deserts, even the changing seasons, it all provides a constantly changing palette of color and texture, light and dark, quiet and raucousness.
For nature lovers and conservationists, the pleasure of the natural world is reason enough to protect and preserve it, but as our divergent views about the environment and its relationship to climate change vs. economic pressures and business interests pull us further and further apart, we might well take some lessons from nature to find a way to reach some kind of constructive consensus. We all occupy the same planet and it behooves us to understand each other’s motivations and identify places we can agree.
Listening to the song of spring birds and watching them dart back and forth from the trees to a feeder we have hanging near a window, made me curious about why birds sing. Is it just the unfettered joy of spring? It turns out, it is quite practical and yet kind of romantic. Most of the singing we hear in the early spring is from male birds that have come to their summer locales before their female counterparts to find a home site and establish their territory. Singing is their way of saying, “hey, keep your claws off my property, boy.” When the girls arrive they make note of males who are the best crooners, have the nicest cribs, and good-looking plumage never hurts, either. In the world of birds females do the proposing.
Nature is nothing if not practical. We see it over and over again in how animals, birds and even insects communicate, adapt and cooperate for the greater good. When conservationists and capitalists talk past each other, we are putting the environment in a destructive tug-of-war. Maybe it’s time we used logic to show climate-change naysayers there are concrete, fiscally sound reasons why preserving nature has tremendous value to the economy and to geopolitical stability. It’s a matter of learning how to talk to each other in a language we both can understand. Example: 1) without bees, crops won’t be pollinated and we can’t feed the world; 2) air quality standards help to reduce the cost of healthcare for heart and respiratory related diseases; and the list goes on. Think about the proverbial canary in the coal mine. When the environment becomes hostile to nature, man is next in line.
Even if we don’t always embrace our differences when it comes to how we approach the earth’s resources or man’s affect on the environment, we can surely agree that it is good business to find solutions that combine stewardship with sound economics and conservation with sustainability. Ask the canary…the alternative is not good for anybody.