Four years ago, amidst real estate developers’ promises of nature and symptoms of poor urban planning, I found myself musing over mankind’s obsession with progress. This never ending pursuit for an easier way of doing things even moved me to write a poem. It goes:
Stone, Papyrus and Clay
more than space-savers,
more than stacks of cemented rungs
removing a few storey’s distance
between man and sun,
are concrete canopies–
edifices built from sacks of sand and gravel
and a spoiled, sightless vision
of a perennial tree shade.
Every day, man kidnaps change
and forces constancy down its throat
with his machines, perpetually improving,
now held together by bolt and nut–
son of the flat round-headed nail;
of the forgotten wooden stake.
But every day, too,
in the world’s random junctions,
a pendulum entrances his own master,
a book triggers sobs from a tyrant,
a piece of parchment predicts a disaster,
and an insatiable soul, a visionary, discovers
there is no retreat
under the sturdiest of mock canopies.
True enough, we have constructed and reinvented convenient ecosystems—or “pseudoecosystems”—for ourselves. But these will never match up to the living, breathing networks that have existed long before we thought of making better versions of them.
These natural communities of organisms and their respective environments are self-sustaining, fully functional and perfect, more so if they are pristine. What’s even more amazing is that these systems take account of us, whether we are conscious of it or not—the Earth’s forests and wetlands ensure that clean water is available not just to their inhabitants but to all human communities, sustaining us. At the same time, water sustains these ecosystems, so that its constituents play their roles in the dynamic cycle.
Our past actions, however, have messed with the inherent balance of these networks. Even the largest of our ecosystems—the global ocean, holding 80% of all life on Earth—has been degraded and stripped of its diversity. Hence, Greenpeace’s campaign to defend our Oceans.
Biodiversity is the true archetype for sustainable living. We need not look elsewhere for inspiration because the perfect design is already in our midst—in our rivers, forests and seas; we just need to learn from them, and give them a fighting chance of astonishing generations to come.
Today is International Biodiversity Day. Help us guard our marine and terrestrial ecosystems by getting involved with us.