This is something that I frequently think about. We think of the land we have cleared for housing as being separate from “nature.” We think of going outside the city as going to nature. The truth is that we have just cleared the land and erected structures in the middle of the natural world. Nature is still all around us. Our indoor spaces aren’t much more than glorified tents with pipes and hard walls.
To expect animals and insects to stop living where we have cleared the trees and erected buildings is a joke—especially when that land was previously their grazing land. If you build your home on the benches of a mountain range, expect them to come into your yard and eat your garden. Your home is just as subject to the natural forces that erode and decay as any other pile of dead wood—except that you keep repairing it and chasing away the critters that would otherwise facilitate the return of dust to dust.
The incredible thing is that we have, in many places, changed entire eco-systems to fit our needs. Deserts have become less arid where we have decided to pipe in water and have lawns of green grass and trees. Water falls easier because there is more water in the area to evaporate and accumulate into rain clouds. And, in other areas, such as the Dust Bowl of North America, huge areas of land were massively changed for decades because of what we did to the land.
But, we are animals—the most intelligent in the animal kingdom—so, aren’t we also part of nature? Are the forces we exercise on our world unnatural if we are part of nature? What is artificial if nothing can be created out of anything but the materials found on our little planet?
Natural vs. the unnatural is a myth. We just refuse to see the natural world in the cities and suburbs we have created, and we refuse to admit that what we have created is also nature. How do we cognitively reunite what we call unnatural/artificial to the natural world within which all things are found?