We humans think we are special, and we are, but we are not quite unique. We have many similarities to many other inhabitants of our biosphere.
We have hearts and lungs and brains. Even fish have the same organs except notably, they breathe through gills that enable them to extract oxygen to fuel the rest of their machinery.
For most of my so-far life, I have enjoyed watching people, trying to determine why we do what we do. That vocation has gradually morphed into noticing, then studying, our non-human neighbors. I have been amazed at the similarities among the disparate species.
For instance, while sitting at my keyboard, writing thoughts similar to these, I watched a Northern Cardinal dad try to coax his son to a feeder we humans had placed outside my window. When the youngster’s fear kept him on a nearby branch, his dad went to the feeder, picked up a seed, took it to his son, and fed the lad. I have watched many parents, winged and walking, feed their kids who have not yet learned to forage for themselves. It’s what we do.
I had been paddling on a northern lake one morning and pulled the canoe up to a beaver trail to explore a bit of woods. Following the trail, I came upon an abandoned logging road bordered by wild blackberry brambles.
Stepping quietly to avoid spooking whatever living critter might be about, I came around a curve and found myself maybe 30 feet from Mama Moose and two offspring. I stopped and made like a mannequin. I have seen stories about moose attacking cars. I had been followed by moose and had them come close to the house soon after I got home and went inside.
Not to suggest we were best buds, but clearly, she was OK being around things human. So I said good morning, complimented her motherhood and watched the family trim the greenery. She never took her eye off me, but she made no threat. After a few minutes, she decided I’d had enough show and herded the youngsters away.
Lately, I’ve been reading about even trees having a familial relationship. Old trees – some people call them Mother Trees – share food with the younger foresters. The elders are able to warn the youth when danger, such as an infestation of death-dealing beetles, is near, and when climate change makes it necessary for certain species to move to more suitable climes.
OK, the doomed trees cannot actually move, but they can modify their seeds so that they will not take root in the bad place and will grow in the new good place. In a way, we humans do the same thing by moving away from rising seas and giving birth to new generations where the ocean is not deepening.
We are, however, the leading invasive species on the planet. Like kudzu and zebra mussels, we find our way to new homes and take over the place.
Aboriginal humans often are reputed to have cared for nature but let’s face it, they did not have the technology or population to destroy it. Adjusting their consumption was relatively easy.
We have gained the well-demonstrated ability to move from one “resource” to another and exploit it until it is gone. We have repeatedly repeated the process on buffalo, passenger pigeons, quinoa, palm oil, and lately, fossil fuels.
We must adjust our patterns. If we keep to our patterns, we will complain about the price of gasoline until we run out of oil, and a habitable planet.
Thanks for coming along. Please take a minute to share the trip, spread the word, among your friends.