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Humans are part of Nature... Do we ignore this reality at our peril?

One of the Barriers to achieving MycoMesh's Vision of empowering every person to thrive is the seemingly inexplicable viewpoint (at least to us) that "nature" is something separate and distinct from humans. Getting to the heart of the matter, this mental framework has served as a great excuse for the indiscriminate use of nature's resources. Since nature is said to be separate from, and of lesser value than, humanity, the thing out there that we call "nature" exists to serve us and we may bend it to our will.

On the contrary, as National Geographic's editors emphasize on their excellent EarthPulse website, "...humans are part of nature, and like every other species on the planet, we depend upon healthy ecosystems for our survival." We would add that "nature" is not out there; it is in us. It is part of us and we are part of it. We are but one species of millions. No matter how intelligent we (naively or arrogantly) think we are, we are an integral, interdependent part of a planetary ecosystem.

What is the relationship of our view of nature to successfully empowering every person to thrive? Simply put, Our behavior is determined by our thought frameworks, perspectives and biases. Defining "nature" as separate from, and subjugated to, us, creates an enormous Barrier between humans and the sustainable solutions that we need to find and put in place to survive and thrive.

First, as the editors of National Geographic warn all of us, "Humanity's progress, particularly since the mid-19th century, has been largely the result of our ability to get and use what planet Earth has to offer. All told, the food we eat, the timber we cut, and the water we draw amounts to an astounding one-third to one-half of global ecosystem production." And, we would add, humanity's cavalier expropriating of such natural resources is growing, not slowing, as we expand inexorably from 7.5 Billion people to almost 10 Billion people over the next 35 years.

The editors further warn us that "... these systems are extremely fragile, and we're only now beginning to understand the myriad interactions and interdependencies that sustain them. And we know that once they are gone, there are no replacements."

Ignoring the fact that humans have a place in the circle of life and thus a responsibility to respect and preserve the planetary ecosystem means that ultimately (some say quickly) critical natural resources will be lost and the humans will no longer be able to thrive. The impact becomes severe long before the exhaustion point is reached. History clearly teaches us that, as the supply of natural resources declines relative to the human population, the less powerful among us lose access far more rapidly and can not survive and thrive.

Second, as is also the case when we define certain classes of people as "less smart" and "less valuable," we humans often do not listen to "other voices" when they are spoken by those we feel are not our equals. In this case, we rarely listen to what nature has to teach us. Why should we listen? After all, other species are dumber than we are. They are just animals and plants.

On the contrary, we have much to learn from other species---especially from societies like the underground fungal mycelia that have persisted for half a billion years. Their Superorganism way of life works. As our Senior Biology Advisor, Dr. Tamsin Woolley Barker, puts it in her new book, TEEMING - How Superorganisms Work to Build Infinite Wealth in a Finite World: "These superorganisms are as close to immortal as living things get, and their ancient way of life is a recipe for boundless success. How do they make more each generation? These societies spill the value they create out into their larger ecosystems, feeding the life that feeds them. They have to—it's the only way to compound that value for the future. This abundance spirals outward, in widening cascades of opportunity."

Finally, even if we say to ourselves, "all I am doing is exploiting an idea that I have gained from nature," we still can lose. For example, a hypothetical company could use what we call biomimicry to study how butterfly wings process light and use that insight to design a smartphone screen that people can read in direct sunlight. Sounds wonderful. But, if that hypothetical company were then to build the smartphone using underpaid labor, in huge factories, in a distant, developing nation, it would not be respecting nature nor its ecosystem lessons!

The hypothetical company might even make a fortune over the short run. But, it would have exploited a single, isolated aspect of nature's ecosystem. If we cherry pick what we like from nature and ignore the critical interactions and interdependencies that make our natural ecosystem work, the result will not be sustainable.

What do you think? What is our relationship to the rest of nature? Can we learn from nature to help everyone survive and thrive? Please share your experiences and insights. Speak out!


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