Since the beginning of this course, I have been thinking more deeply on the interconnectivity between life forms and the land they inhabit. In our society, I feel like we think of land as merely a place to live on. But whether we realize it or not, we influence our land and our land definitely has an effect upon us. We depend on the natural resources our land contains in order to make our living. As a part of the ecosystem, we have evolved to fit our planet’s natural systems, and our land is the basis for those systems. Geologically speaking, the main difference between the climate of the earth now and the climate of the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods when dinosaurs lived is the movement of the tectonic plates’ effect on volcanic activity. Whether we acknowledge it or not, our land determines our way of life.
It is also important to acknowledge the effect we can have on our land. When we treat our land as if it were our plaything or property rather than the basis for all of our life, we risk the delicate balance that we require in order to survive. Global climate change is perhaps the most obvious example of this. It is a fact that the earth will obviously survive any climate shift we might cause, as will some life. In changing the climate of our planet, we are effectively participating in natural selection by providing the method of our own extinction.
Another example of the effect we have on our land is our use of synthetic chemicals and their subsequent bioaccumulation. In Living Downstream, Sandra Steingraber discusses how certain chemicals (e.g. DDT) can now be found all over the planet because of their persistence in the environment and our widespread circulation and use of them. These synthetic chemicals and their effects upon our land, its ecosystem, and consequently ourselves is an excellent example of the interconnectivity I mentioned. Let’s take DDT as an example. We sprayed DDT all over our land for agricultural reasons. Even now, decades after the ban on its use, DDT still persists within our bodies, our water, and our soil. This bioaccumulation has had many negative effects for our bodies as well as the bodies of animals.We put something into the land, and the land gave it right back to us. Clearly, we are intimately and closely related to our land. I have come to understand that we as a people need to begin to acknowledge that.