Rewilding the Earth and Human Evolution

George Monbiot speaks about the rewilding process at a TED conference and why it is so essential that we begin to take it seriously.
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In a brilliantly fantastic TED talk, George Monbiot breaks down the trophic cascade from the gray wolf and even takes it a step further as he cites other examples of ecosystems where similar effects have been lost. He then proceeds to discuss the “rewilding” process, a process by which we follow the Yellowstone wolf example and begin to reestablish ecosystems that have long since been decimated. One way or another, however, nature will once and for all force us into learning to coexist with it.

During the last century, humanity has had an extraordinary leap in its awareness and consciousness. Long gone are the days where it was standard practice to kill animals that got in your way or even met you on the trail. While a small population of these people still exist, education has slowly been penetrating into their lifestyles which will eventually cause them to either adapt to a growing trend of coexistence with wildlife, or perish under their own stresses and self-inflicted hardships. In our more modern way of life, fascination has been gradually replacing fear. As more people learn about wild nature, the irrational fears begin to subside and fascination with a misunderstood aspect of themselves begins to take over. It’s a globally growing trend that shows no signs of slowing down.

Each year, more and more people are discovering that despite our technological advances and large cities, we are in fact, still a part of nature. No matter how disconnected from the source people get, the human race is in fact still an animal. It’s an awareness that has been lost on large populations, leaving them to constantly search for meaning in their redundant lives, bouncing back and forth between others’ priorities and a minimal amount of personal time. It is this population that plans escapes into national parks in the hopes of catching a glimpse of what it is that makes them human. There is a burning desire deep down inside to rediscover something that will trigger a moment of clarity. They represent the shift in humanity that times are changing; a population of people searching for something greater than the careers they were convinced by others would bring them happiness. Often many find out when it seems too late that they are left empty and unsatisfied instead. These are the people that will be forced to make a decision about how they perceive nature. There is the old habit where they can fear it and do everything they can to get it out of their sight, or the new alternative which prompts an educated awareness about how that animal behaves, thus nurturing a potential coexistence.

With fewer people hunting than in the past combined with far fewer people killing animals for the sake of killing them, nature has been gradually making a strong comeback to the point of reemerging into cities and populated areas. In a sense, nature is forcing people to wake up to the fact that a peaceful, and as a result, rewarding coexistence with nature is actually possible. It’s a growing trend that is lost on a population unwilling to waiver in their adaptations and beliefs, who will ultimately be left behind for humans that have chosen intelligence over ignorance. Intelligence itself is adapting to the inevitable changes that life brings about. Resisting change closes off the mind to possibilities, and thus, expansion. This is because the essence of life itself is expansion and adapting to new ideas. It’s the excitement of something new that makes life exciting. As George Monbiot hinted to in the above talk, it will be the intelligent decisions that we make about wildlife that will bring a Serengeti at everyone’s doorstep, something that excites a growing population of people that have taken the time to educate themselves on how nature operates. Thus far, we have seen very clearly what ignorance and fear does to the natural world. Example after example pour in reflecting how simple fear and ignorance bring about the demise of apex predators and wildlife. The benefits of these stories is that the more it happens, the more awareness is raised for better practices and better perceptions of how we treat our own natural heritage. As a result, the human race is evolving.

Evolution is not just about growing limbs and adapting to physical surroundings, it is also about how a particular animal reacts mentally to its changing environment. With a world that seems to be changing faster and faster these days, the human race wants desperately to keep up. For that reason, modern times cause the majority of people to be horrified and shocked when learning of the truth of stories like those mentioned. Intelligence and our own evolution is trumping the mislead belief that humans need to control nature. Upon reaching a practical coexistence with nature, the human race will have achieved a milestone in its evolution, a milestone that is very well achievable in our lifetime. If you’re understandably skeptical, simply look at the ecotourism market. Ecotourism, a word that did not even exist a half-century ago, has exploded into one of the largest sources of income for more and more cities every year and continues to grow. It’s the very reason a group of economists urged the President to at least double the amount of national parks in our country. The effect it would have on our economy would be staggering, and at the same time, would relieve some of the pressure of the more frequently visited parks, such as Great Smokey Mountains, Yosemite, and Yellowstone National Parks.

Protecting and rewilding nature is a concept that was born less than 150 years ago, but despite a slow start, has evolved into one of the largest economic and evolutionary movements in history. Sooner or later, everyone will be affected by it. The choice is not about a struggle or a fight. The choice simply revolves around learning about nature. Once an understanding of nature is acquired, the rest falls into place much easier than anything our government agencies have been able to figure out.

“In India it has been preached, ‘love all beings as yourselves’; we make no distinction between men and animals. But no reason was forthcoming, no one knew why it would be good to love other beings as ourselves. And the reason, why, is there in the idea of the Impersonal God; you understand it when you learn that the whole world is one — the oneness of the universe — the solidarity of all life — that in hurting any one I am hurting myself, in loving any one I am loving myself. Hence we understand why it is that we ought not to hurt others.”
– Vivekananda

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