The attitude of the majority toward environmentalism is one of both knowledge and neglect. We know and yet we dont act upon that knowledge. Even the most estranged, those totally absorbed in mans mechanical advancement, know that biology, like machine, works with laws that have been set down for a long, long time. Violate them and things dont work. And yet, most of us turn our attention from this knowledge because our personal desires or heeding our groupss conventions are stronger in us. When we buy a house and property, we do not think of ourselves as the stewards of a particular chunk of land, or how our newly acquired property fits into the mosaic of the ecology about us. We immediately think of ways we can make our homes fit into the pattern our neighbors have established, neatly manicured lawns, freshly painted houses, sidewalks, and paved driveways.
We wonder when well need an addition, or how far we should cut back the brush, yank up unsightly trees, and stick in ones that please our eyes. Its as if we have forgotten that we have evolved and all other life on this planet interwoven in a tangled web of inter-dependency, but instead have wandered into a virtual world where only our wants, and the concerns of our society (like cars and their care), have any value at all. We know that plants and trees provide air, but we cut them down as it pleases us. We know that there are millions, perhaps billions, of tiny creatures, microorganisms, that live in our ground that break up dead material and leave nutrients for things to grow, but we toss on lawn chemicals with abandon.
We arent stupid, because even the most callous of us knows these fundamentals. Environmentalists make us feel guilty because they remind us of what we already know, and so if we ignore them theyll go away. John Muir, the great naturalist, promised God he would learn to appreciate the wonders of Nature if He would restore his sight–after an accident. When his sight returned John Muir, to our great admiration, kept his promise. Will we too have to wait for an accident, an event so compelling that it cant be ignored, before we give our attention to the very forces on this planet that sustain us?