Fire Renews the Forest

February 19, 2007 at 8:01 am Leave a comment

As we stand on the edge of disaster, and very much doubting humanity’s collective resolve to avert it, I find peace of mind in knowing that fire renews the forest. Since fire destroys trees people intuitively consider it as being something bad, but ecologists now understand that fire is a natural and essential part to forest ecology. It clears overgrowth and can release long dormant seeds buried in the ground waiting for their opportunity to flourish. So, while the forest is initially devastated as a result of the fire, with time a stronger and healthier forest is the result.

I think one generalization that can be made from my rantings thus far is that I am preoccupied with trends in our global society and where it will lead us. Specifically, I’ve mentioned that our continued environmental abuse will have repercussions lasting, not just generations, but centuries or millennia. I believe that our reliance on fossil fuels is only destructive and self-serving of the current paradigm and contributes to the social and economic imbalances that plague our world.

The best predictor of our future is our current behavior and as such it indicates more of the same: more people, more traffic, more tax codes, more laws, more stuff, more stress, more needs for energy, more, more, and more! The breaking point for our society will be where a majority of people’s realities do not meet the advertised expectations. And, this is not a phenomenon of the distant future, but symptoms of which are happening now. Terrorism is the most obvious manifestation of the disenfranchised.

While death and destruction resulting from climate change, food shortages, pandemics, terrorism and possible nuclear warfare are depressing to think about, the bright side to such scenarios comes afterward when having taken our just desserts into consideration, we will consolidate our resources in order to rebuild a society fundamentally different from the one we hold so dear today. So whether we take action now to address our problems or not, we will end up somewhere and continue our evolution as a species.

Having said that, I prefer proactive choice as it demonstrates responsibility, a decidedly adult trait, whereas our failure to act demonstrates reluctant and imposed change, a decidedly childlike trait. Choice is always the more powerful and enduring option. However, without conscious choices, something else will emerge. What exactly it will be, we don’t know. I prefer to choose the society we become, rather than accept what emerges on the other side. While it could be a beautiful forest, it could also easily be a militaristic or dictatorial society – a natural reaction of people to create order from social chaos.

My lowered expectations as to whether we will meet our global challenges come from the understanding that people learn from their mistakes. But, my peace of mind comes from a deeply held opinion that in the end, only sustainable systems will endure. Other solutions will eventually fall to the wayside to be replaced by something else, over and over again, until we figure out environmental and social solutions that work with our needs and desires rather than against them. Like I always say, prepare for the worst, hope for the best ;-)


Entry filed under: Environment, Leadership, Philosophy, Sustainability.

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