... RESPECT FOR NATURE!
This is post #8 in a series of guest blogger posts entilted, "What I want the World to Know About ..." Want to submit a post of your own? Click here to find out how.
By: Kelli D.
Kelli is originally from Michigan but moved to south Florida eight years ago. She and her husband Ryan have now put down roots in South Florida and are expecting a daughter this November. Kelli earned a Master's Degree in Environmental Education and works at Daggerwing Nature Center in Boca Raton where she loves teaching people about nature. She actually knows me through AD (my brother's wife), whom Kelli met when she first moved to Florida. She has been a follower of my blog for several years now.
There is an amazing variety of life on this planet! And God created this world and all of the life inhabiting it for His pleasure. And believe it or not, each species has a specific purpose, and it has been laid on my heart to share with people that we should be good stewards of God’s creation.
I am a manager at a nature center in south Florida, and we strive to help people become aware of the wonderful and unique environment around them and help them appreciate the awesomeness of nature. We then want people to turn the awareness and appreciation into action, with the ultimate goal of encouraging people to take ownership of this earth, and make environmentally responsible decisions in their own lives.
Let me explain what I mean by "ownership." If I were to go into someone’s home and throw my candy wrapper on the floor, or dump my trash in their yard, it would make that person upset – because it is their house and their property, and my actions aren’t respecting their home. People don’t see the earth as their home. They have become disconnected from nature; it’s not personal to them. This is among the top reasons why people litter or don’t recycle, or really don’t even think about how their actions impact the earth and everything else living on it.
We also want people to understand and respect nature. For example, how many people don’t like snakes? Many people don’t understand that snakes play a super important role in controlling the populations of rats and mice. With the high reproductive rates of rats and mice, if it weren’t for snakes, we would be overrun with rodents which would cause enormous problems for people. Problems would include eating crops (which in turn would cause less food for us to eat, and profit loss for farmers) and invading our homes. Who wants those problems? And if there weren’t snakes, what would the animals that eat snakes feast on? The cause and effect relationships in nature are very complex and I’m just giving a few very simple examples, but I am using these to illustrate a few reasons why snakes are important, whether we like them or not. I’m not asking you to like snakes, but please try to respect and understand that they were created for a purpose. And please refrain from killing one with a shovel if one shows up in your garden, and PLEASE, whatever you do, try to put on a brave face and don’t pass along your fears to others, especially easily influential children! Nurturing a respect for nature in children is difficult enough, especially as societies have become more and more detached from the great outdoors.
We all know that some animals can be dangerous to people (and of course, these are the stories we hear on the news), but the vast majority of animals you may encounter are more afraid of you than you are of them. They just want to get away from you! Only if they feel trapped or threatened (or if it is a mother with babies around) would they show aggressive behavior towards a human. Oh yeah, and all animals will show warning signs before attacking – it’s only if we ignore their warning signals with they actually attack. And keep in mind, of most of the shark and alligator attacks we hear about, the people survive, because after the attack has begun, the animal realizes that we aren’t the prey they were looking for, and the animal stops attacking. Granted, the damage has been done, but that doesn’t mean that sharks and alligators are "bad."
(Back to snakes for a second - the vast majority of venomous snake bites occur to people that own them as pets.) All in all, we have a better chance of being hit by lightening than by being attacked by wild animals.
The more we (humans) develop and destroy creation, the less places animals have to live and the more potentially negative encounters people may have with them. Don’t get me wrong, people are God’s "special" creation and we live on this planet too. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t build homes because it destroys natural areas, but development needs to be planned carefully and should take into consideration environmental effects.
Boulder, Colorado is one example of where the city planning was just done superbly! They took into consideration future population growth, and surrounded the city with protected parks, so the city cannot expand outwards! They’ve really taken a close look at water and energy resources to supply the city as well. This is a city that is more sustainable than most here in the states.
Please know that I am not saying that human needs should take a back-seat to the environment, but we need to be aware of the other life that is on the planet and how important that life is, and how that life is actually important for us and our health. Many animals are considered "indicator species" and careful observation of their populations can give us a lot of information about the health of the planet’s air and water quality, and the health of specific environments. If we don’t have a healthy planet, we won’t be able to live healthy lives!
God put man in charge of the earth, so we have a responsibility to take care of what He has given us. I know it is not feasible for all of us to covert our homes to using solar energy, but there are soooo many simple little things we can do to help protect and respect God’s creation. Just think about the amounts of water and electricity that we use; the amounts of trash we create; the chemicals we use that get washed down the drain or absorbed into the earth. These are good places to start. It may seem overwhelming, but just make one small change, and then when you are comfortable with that, add another small change. Doing something, no matter how small, is better than doing nothing at all. You may think, “I’m just one person. Will it really make a difference?” YES. Yes it will. And it just might make a positive impact on your wallet as well!
We only have this one planet for us and for future generations. If you have questions or would like more information, your local nature/environmental centers can be a good source of information. I really want you to know that I am not trying to "preach" to anyone. I’m just sharing my heart about a small piece of what I want the world to know.