I used to measure prosperity by: if I had more money in the bank after the bills were paid than before, how many friends, clothes in the closet, food in the fridge… I have to say I like all of those things and generally more is better…
but as I’ve been in a drought for weeks in going for nature walks or seeing critters in my backyard… I wondered, what would anything else matter if all the critters disappeared from our world?
We might realize what we’d miss if we measured our prosperity by what nature gives us. What if tomorrow you woke up and the crazy “laugh” of the pileated woodpecker was gone?
Would you miss the gentleness of the deer in a field?
You might not miss the bugs but would you miss the birds ?
Or maybe I am wrong? Would you miss the “bugs”?
I saw this coyote once. He entered the woods, then a few minutes later, I heard gun shots and I never saw him again. There was a sadness at his loss that no money could assuage.
Humans consider one of these species (in central NY) an invasive species. Do the other species seem to agree? If humans have their way (some humans) — these swans will be eradicated.
Some day will we only be able to see a fox in a zoo? If the only way to preserve the human race was to put some of our species in a zoo — would we find that acceptable?
What if it all went away. Acid rain has changed the pH in what otherwise look to be pristine lakes. “Where are the fish asks the heron of the gull?” Should these birds have a right to speak before congress asking for clean air and water? Should they have a right to define prosperity not by the amount of cash in the bank but by the number of fish in the sea?
Pesticides increase crop yields but where are the bees? The bees are industrious workers — pollinating our crops and making honey. What do we humans pay them for their work? If the bees were to measure prosperity in the number of floral blooms and ripe fruit on the trees– what would they charge us for their worth? Do we humans have the right to bankrupt their abundance as we cherish our “right” to douse the world in toxic chemicals?
Robins for central NY are a first sign of Spring. I saw one yesterday (not this robin). Maybe not proof of climate change — one robin in the dead of winter — but is there any part of the world that for years now has not needed to address the issue of extreme weather changes: droughts, floods, strength of hurricanes, shifts in snowfall amounts, raging fires…? Does one species have the right to alter the climate of an entire planet? It is estimated that there are more species on the planet than there are individual humans — and yet — we determine how prosperous all of their lives will be or even worse if decades from now they will exist at all.
Yesterday, two pileated woodpeckers fed in the trees of my backyard, starlings visited the sumac, a bluejay threw snow in the air, a male cardinal’s plumage blazed a brilliant red … all in few minutes. Soon a squirrel visited right beneath the open window where I sat taking photos and the crows came for a visit. THIS IS PROSPERITY TO ME.
So what would you pay to be able to see the animals of the world? There may come a day when no matter how high a price we set — it will be a mute point. For now — and it maybe — a very short for now — we get to experience all the joy the animals bring to the world for free.
Is it that the wonder of nature is FREE that some fail to include nature in what makes them prosperous? If we had to pay the bats and bees to pollinate our plants would we value them more? What if for every building constructed an equal amount of land needed to be preserved to maintain the diversity of nature? Would we do it? Or would we humans say that would cut into our prosperity? What if animals were all given a vote and they demanded that prosperity was defined in that ALL living creatures must co-exist in manner that the Earth’s natural resources could only be “used” if the end result was the resources were as “clean (or cleaner) and as abundant than before we used them? Millions of species live like this. Why can’t the one species — humans — see prosperity in the same way?