What is your relationship with nature?
What kind of an environment do you like and dislike?
A place in the world which fascinates me and I feel good in: is by the Mediterranean Sea. It is a very small coastal town in a protected bay with beautiful old stone houses, painted white and stoned paved streets. Colorful flowers hanging off the balconies, beach filled with white stones and clear blue waters. There are a few sailing boats floating on the waters in front of the shore. The bay is surrounded by cliffs with green trees growing on them. It is an environment which is a mix of natural wonders and human settlement. These surroundings have an esthetic, artistic and fresh flavor. I can hear birds, maybe some waves, some talking in a low voice and music. It also smells wonderful: of the sea, flowers and a small breeze of warm wind lands on your face. Why is it such a special place to me? It has a buzz and you can sense the human life, but the activities and houses built by humans are not aggressive. The works of human are visually in perfect harmony with the nature, it is a “human environment”. The aesthetic works of human in the impressive coast line with cliffs and bays, trees, flowers and stone beaches. For me it is important, that I know this place quite well, it includes me, it is picturesque and it is real. You can exercise in this environment, calm down, interact with others and feel free. It is a dynamic space where I believe there is an “aesthetic engagement”. However we need to be aware that also this place is threatened by environmental issues and that 7% of global microplastic is in the Mediterranean.
An environment which I do not feel comfortable in is, for example, the dirty outskirts of a big busy city, where the buildings are ugly and you can see the city planning has been poor and cheap. There is a lot of pollution from the cars and constant noise from the passing cars, mopeds and trucks. People do not have any expression of interest, thrill or enthusiasm on their faces. It smells bad, maybe of urine, food waste and full bins on the streets. There are only a few trees or none and the overall image of the place is gloomy and grey. People seem very busy and stressed.
I believe the main difference between these two places lies in the presence of the activities of people and the natural world: do they interact in harmony with the place or are they aggressive? Respectful behavior towards the environment is important. If the human activity is respectful towards nature and inspired by it, the place also becomes welcoming and gives us a pleasant feeling. In my environmental experience, it is important that people, animals and other living things seem to “feel good” in the environment, as this can be sensed in the overall sensation a place gives you. This sensation and environment requires to be protected. Think of what about the environments you like and dislike?
Practice sustainable lifestyle
“The world is not a place of objects. It’s a condition of the connections and continuities” says philosopher Arnold Berleant. For me the first place described, my favorite place, provides these connections. A beautiful, rich and clean natural environment is like a frame, which is often linked to feelings or experiences of happiness.
In the ideal situation the environment includes the viewer who then becomes the participant. This leads the participant to experience the world in a different way.
We do not observe the nature from far but we actually interact with it. Once we interact we can truly connect.
“What is my footprint for future generations?”
How ambiguous are the impacts of an individual on the environment?
When we do not know what is the impact of our individual actions on a collective in the future, it is not transparent should we act one way or the other. When the consequence is ambiguous we may not feel responsible. Perhaps we feel that the future of humans and the planet is so uncertain after several decades or centuries, that the impact of the current actions of an individual in the collective feels irrelevant and insignificant. We do not know if other renewable resources have been discovered, are there new wars, has a meteorite hit the planet, are there completely new ways of living.
Has the population partly moved to Mars and what kind of transportation are we using to move from one place to the other. Our impact on the environment should not only be a moral one and but also a a legal question: we have laws against stealing belongings of others and most of us are taught from childhood. In my opinion there are not enough laws to protect nature.
What it is wrong, however there are very few laws (in my opinion) on greenhouse emissions and environmental harm. There may be a feeling of ambigous angst, as many of us feel that some actions may be wrong.
There may not be enough clear guidance or laws on how to live morally, environmentally and ethically correctly as an individual in a collective. The individual and the collective currently seem to be more dependent on global activist movements and environmental and ethical messages from the media, than moral education, laws and regulation.