Today is my last day as Sustainability professional, and if there’s a message I would like to share with the world, then it is this: if we continue to live like we have been over the last decades, we’d better get used to Corona situations. Because nature will always prevail.
In fact, we suffer from a serious case of NDD or Nature Deficit Disorder. While biologically we are adapted to live in and with nature, we currently don’t give it any attention. With serious problems as a result: we think we are cleverer than nature, that we can dominate, that we can manage and be in the lead. But that’s actually very naïve. We hardly know it, spent very little to no time in nature, let alone respect it. We can’t dominate the world. We are part of it, of one big ecosystem in which everything is intertwined and one that is working best when in balance.
Most of what nature has to give, is healthy ànd given to us for free. Sunshine provides us with vitamins. Healthy soil and eating according to seasons provides us with the most nutritious food. We give our leftover food to chicken and they return us with eggs. Trees provide shade and shelter. Forests provide us with oxygen and beaches make excellent places for spending your free time in a healthy way, both mentally as physically. Connecting bare-footed to natural ground levels out our energy. Meeting with our ‘tribe’ is more important to our health than most realize. It’s truly amazing if you put it together. And the funny thing is, we kind of know this.
On the other hand, driving cars and flying gives us so-called freedom but also polluted air. Cutting forests might provide us with palm oil but will deprive us from oxygen. Modifying seeds (GMO) and agricultural chemicals deliver a bigger harvest (so someone somewhere can make a lot of money) but also herbicide-resistant superweeds, the rise of secondary pest insects and sick farmers. Building villas with well-trimmed gardens give us comfort but take away space for natural biodiversity. Shopping the latest fashion might be a fun activity and make us look good (or still never good enough), but the production of it is far from nice for the environment and its producers.
What is more important: food, air, good health? Or a fancy car, a big house and nice heels?
If it’s the latter, we’ll need to learn to deal with these new pests. Nature will find a way to regulate us, humans. By tackling the root cause, and keep attempting to lower the number of humans on this planet, that don’t respect it. Once we overcome Corona, it will just be waiting for the next one.
Does it mean we have to go live in the woods again. No, not at all. We still live in the middle of the city, which is why we can easily live without a car. We are a clever species and can find balance. Respect the ecosystem we’re in. Stop seeing nature as something we can exploit for short term gain. But to live more sustainable lives. A bit closer to our biological self. With our tribe or community. Within the limits of what the planet provides. To stop endlessly consuming to buy happiness. To work our asses off to have money for that big house with lots of stuff in it to impress others who do exactly the same. To be in constant stress over money while stress is actually only a mechanism to helps us fight bears, every once in a while.
There is an alternative: let’s go more outside, get to know and feel your environment, live a simpler life, be happy with less (both money and stuff), a bit similar to our grandparents, repair instead of replace, go for a hike, picknick, if possible without avocados from a faraway destination, take our rubbish with us, meet up with our tribe, share what we have, and take care of our biological self. There are plenty of people out in the world who live like this. So it is possible. And after our travels I can assure you, they are much much happier than most of us.
Maybe this crisis offers us the opportunity and time to think about what we really find important. We now have time at hand to read books about balance and nature, see documentaries about wildlife and biodiversity, to learn and be amazed! And who knows, it might be the start of better kind of world.