I want to move people to a more experiential philosophy of the natural world. That way you can protect it.
The happiest people I have seen in Britain, or anywhere, are those who live close to the land and people who use their hands – craftspeople. All over the world they transform the world. They effect transformation. People like environmental sculptor Andy Goldsworthy can take a leaf and transform it. They restore the dignity of work by hand.
We are not protecting nature these days so much as managing it without knowing it. If you want to protect it, go out in it.
When you walk, you are in touch with the earth, with nature, the wasps, the insects, everything. In a car or a train or a plane, you are disconnected. You walk to connect yourself.
A river has the right to flow unpolluted, uncontaminated, un-dammed.
When we take something from nature for our survival, that is fine. That we should take with gratitude, not as a right, that it is our right to use nature.
But we say it is a gift from nature, and we receive it with gratitude, and we reciprocate it, by looking after it, by composting it, by not polluting it, and by giving respect to it.
Real wealth is good land, pristine forests, clean rivers, healthy animals, vibrant communities, nourishing food and human creativity.
Frugality, simplicity and restraint are the urgent imperatives at these critical times. If we are caring and generous to Nature, Nature will reciprocate.
Now, the study of the ‘environment’ is not the same as the study of ‘ecology’. The environment is what surrounds us humans. This implies that humans are at the centre and what is around us is our environment. So ‘environment’ is an anthropocentric concept whereas the word ‘ecology’ is more inclusive. Ecology implies relationships between all species, humans and the natural world.
Giving nature a rightful place, and giving nature and recognising nature’s intrinsic value is the main idea of deep ecology. So there is a tree there. The tree is good in itself, the tree is not there because it is useful to humans. The tree is not good because it gives us a kind of oxygen, or fire, or wood, or wood for the house, or flowers or fruit, a tree has intrinsic value.
We are looking for what I would call a new trinity, a “soil, soul, society” philosophy – soil for the environment, soul for the spiritual dimension, and society for the social justice that is essential.
Artwork by Simon Robinson