Just recently, there was an article published in the CDT about how many storm-related deaths had occurred in the United States in 2011. Right next to it, there was another article talking about how planting trees and rebuilding forests would help save the environment by taking in CO2 and giving out oxygen. These articles go to show that as kind as nature is, it can be a destructive force as well. Similarly, humans cut down millions of trees every day, yet there are those trying to save the environment as well. The relationship between humankind and nature is one of love and hate: humankind is as hateful in its destruction of forest after forest as it is kind in its nature-lovers such as Barbara Kingsolver and Ralph Waldo Emerson. The converse is also true: nature is as destructive in its snowstorms as it is kind in providing a place for people to let go of their worldly desires.
Nature’s destruction of humankind can only be matched by its generosity. Natural disasters of the Earth, such as snowstorms and hurricanes, cause thousands upon thousands of deaths every year. Even nature-lovers such as Emerson acknowledge the fact that though nature is a refuge from society, it is not without its flaws. In a poem called Snowstorm, Emerson describes a scene where all human activity stops to stare at an enormous snowstorm. The mood conveyed by the poem itself is one of awe, but there is a flicker of annoyance and hate coming out of the gawkers as well. And indeed, this sense is justified, because farmland and possibly homes were about to get destroyed by the forces of nature. Weather-related deaths by nature are way too high, yet nature provides love too. Nature provides us with a place to go when societal pressure gets to be too much. Prominent Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau argue this viewpoint in his work called Walden, where he stresses that to simplify, one must get away from society, and one of the best ways to do this was by going into the woods. Therefore, nature’s relationship with humankind seems to be one of equal hate/destruction, and equal love.
This relationship is mutual: humans tend to love nature as much as they destroy it with urbanization. According to Barbara Kingsolver in her book Knowing our Place, she shows that 50 percent of people in the United States live in cities; cities where wildlife once thrived and forests once stood. Kingsolver laments this destruction, because children will never connect with the nature as they used to do. However, as destructive as we are to nature, we love it unconditionally because we need it. Kingsolver stresses this fact, saying that humans need wild places such as forests to live and thrive. In addition, wildlife organizations have increased awareness of the general public’s destruction, and now efforts are under way to preserve nature and rebuild. We destroy nature with haste, but we preserve it and rebuild it with love and care.
The mutual relationship between nature and humankind is one of love and hate. Humans are vulnerable to the natural disasters that wreak havoc and kill, but nature provides us with a peaceful place unlike any other. In addition, humans destroy forest after forest, but with the help of Transcendentalist writers such as Emerson, Thoreau, and Kingsolver, our awareness is increasing, and we are taking strides to preserve it and rebuild. Hopefully, as we progress in discovering how to minimize the effects of natural disasters as well as maximize our rebuilding efforts, our relationship will change from equal love and hate to a maximum amount of love, and no hate whatsoever.