The change of mind I am talking about involves not just a change of knowledge, but also a change of attitude toward our essential ignorance, a change in our bearing in the face of mystery. The principle of ecology, if we will take it to heart, should keep us aware that our lives depend on other lives and upon processes and energies in an interlocking system that, though we can destroy it, we can neither fully understand nor fully control. And our great dangerousness is that, locked in our selfish and myopic economies, we have been willing to change or destroy far beyond our power to understand.
And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place and He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use. And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles and there was nowhere to sit down or walk, and Man shook his head and cried: Look at this Godawful mess.
Through all these new, imaginative, and creative approaches to the problem of sharing our earth with other creatures there runs a constant theme, the awareness that we are dealing with life with living populations and all their pressures and counter pressures, their surges and recessions. Only by taking account of such life forces and by cautiously seeking to guide them into channels favorable to ourselves can we hope to achieve a reasonable accommodation between the insect hordes and ourselves. The current vogue for poisons has failed utterly to take into account these most fundamental considerations. As crude a weapon as the cave man's club, the chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life a fabric on the one hand delicate and destructible, on the other miraculously tough and resilient, and capable of striking back in unexpected ways. These extraordinary capacities of life have been ignored by the practitioners of chemical control who have brought to their task no high-minded orientation, no humility before the vast forces with which they tamper. The control of nature is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy, when it was supposed that nature exists for the convenience of man. The concepts and practices of applied entomology for the most part date from that Stone Age of science. It is our alarming misfortune that so primitive a science has armed itself with the most modem and terrible weapons, and that in turning them against the insects it has also turned them against the earth.
In practice, a global approach is needed when dealing with the problems of the spaceship earth which affect all of mankind. But local solutions, inevitably conditioned by local interests, are required for the problems peculiar to each human settlement.
Under the general name of Commodity, I rank all those advantages which our senses owe to nature. This, of course, is a benefit which is temporary and mediate, not ultimate, like its service to the soul. Yet although low, it is perfect in its kind, and is the only use of nature which all men apprehend. The misery of man appears like childish petulance, when we explore the steady and prodigal provision that has been made for his support and delight on this green ball which floats him through the heavens. What angels invented these splendid ornaments, these rich conveniences, this ocean of air above, this ocean of water beneath, this firmament of earth between? this zodiac of lights, this tent of dropping clouds, this striped coat of climates, this fourfold year? Beasts, fire, water, stones, and corn serve him. The field is at once his floor, his work-yard, his play-ground, his garden, and his bed.
The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers and cities; but to know someone here and there who thinks and feels with us, and though distant, is close to us in spirit - this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.
Our primeval Mother Earth is an organism that no science in the world can rationalize. Everything on her that crawls and flies is dependent upon Her and all must hopelessly perish if that Earth dies that feeds us.
Wherever we look the dreadful disintegration of the bridges of life, the capillaries and the bodies they have created, is evident, which has been caused by the mechanical and mindless work of man, who has torn away the soul from the Earth's blood - water. The more the engineer endeavors to channel water, of whose spirit and nature he is today still ignorant, by the shortest and straightest route to the sea, the more the flow of water weighs into the bends, the longer its path and the worse the water will become. The spreading of the most terrible disease of all, of cancer , is the necessary consequence of such unnatural regulatory works. These mistaken activities - our work - must legitimately lead to increasingly widespread unemployment, because our present methods of working, which have a purely mechanical basis, are already destroying not only all of wise Nature's formative processes, but first and foremost the growth of the vegetation itself, which is being destroyed even as it grows. The drying up of mountain springs, the change in the whole pattern of motion of the groundwater, and the disturbance in the blood circulation of the organism - Earth - is the direct result of modern forestry practices. The pulse-beat of the Earth was factually arrested by the modern timber production industry. Every economic death of a people is always preceded by the death of its forests. The forest is the habitat of water and as such the habitat of life processes too, whose quality declines as the organic development of the forest is disturbed. Ultimately, due to a law which functions with awesome constancy, it will slowly but surely come around to our turn. Our accustomed way of thinking in many ways, and perhaps even without exception, is opposed to the true workings of Nature. Our work is the embodiment of our will. The spiritual manifestation of this work is its effect.
I thought how utterly we have forsaken the Earth, in the sense of excluding it from our thoughts. There are but few who consider its physical hugeness, its rough enormity. It is still a disparate monstrosity, full of solitudes, barrens, wilds. It still dwarfs, terrifies, crushes. The rivers still roar, the mountains still crash, the winds still shatter. Man is an affair of cities. His gardens, orchards and fields are mere scrapings. Somehow, however, he has managed to shut out the face of the giant from his windows. But the giant is there, nevertheless.
We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and, I will say, the love we give our fragile craft.