The Wisdom of Nature: Lessons from the Natural World


  The Wisdom of Nature: Lessons from the Natural World

It is easy to forget that we are a part of the nature that sustains us. To reconnect with this wisdom, it is useful to observe the natural world. This post offers an introduction to the lessons taught by nature and how we can apply them in our lives: from why jumping higher requires less energy than jumping horizontally, to how being too choosy about food limits your options for a healthy diet, and more!

We've all heard stories about people who find new direction in their life after experiencing some dramatic event — or just by stepping off a plane in some exotic country. Inspired by the surprises that life brings to us, this post offers an introduction to the lessons taught by nature and how we can apply them in our lives.


Facing this global crisis, many people are drawn to natural remedies. But first we have to understand what is nature and who's responsible for it? Is it a place or a person? The world's great texts, from the Bible and the Koran to Kahlil Gibran and Shakespeare, all say "Earth is humanity's mother." This idea may seem obvious, but it requires a certain outlook on life — an outlook supported by ideas about the human mind not found in most of today's science.

It's important to realize that the Earth is not a living organism. It's a planet, with all the features that make it unique and special. In fact, it's humanity that is trying to become a living organism through an anthropocentric worldview. It may be necessary to accept nature as it is, but we are also responsible for what happens on the planet — and what happens depends on human choices.

Here are some key points about nature:

The Good News: Nature Has Its Own Plan
The natural world does not do things in such a way as to make us feel completely comfortable or happy. There are no "perfect" organisms in nature; nor are there perfect environments or perfect species. But then again, we don't have to worry about finding ourselves striving for the impossible. Nature is designed to be sustainable and resilient — and to go through endless cycles of change.

The Bad News: Nature Has Its Own Time
It is a very long time since we lived in the state of nature, so it's hard for us to imagine how things used to be. Evolution might provide the best example of what might have happened. We are seeing new species evolving right before our eyes because of genetic changes brought on by exposure or selection pressures from their new environments.

How and Why Nature Has a Plan
There is no conscious designer thinking "This is what I want to happen." There is, however, a natural mechanism that guides the evolution of life. It's called natural selection. The reason that we have a human race here on this planet depends on our having evolved in different ways from other species that lived here before us. Those species might have been able to adapt better than any other living creature in their environment to survive and reproduce. This has not always been the case. After the extinction of dinosaurs, there were many more than one hundred million animals left alive on Earth for millions of years until their habitat changed again. These so-called "living fossils" did not adapt very well to this change, and most of them died out. We are here because we were able to adapt effectively to our environment.

Natural selection works on DNA. Mutations in DNA occur when a gene is copied during cell reproduction. These mutations may lead to some positive or negative effects on the organism's fitness, which affect an individual's chances for survival and reproduction. If the mutation causes no harm or provides an advantage, then it is passed on to the next generation as a new trait. Over time these characteristics can become dominant within a population (or species).

Over a longer period of time many changes occur in organisms — but one species does not become another species. These changes are not reversed. It is only when a species splits into two that the new, separate populations can begin to evolve separately.

Life in the Wild and Life in the Home
The living world has its own ecology — or ecosystem. The elements of nature (elements, for example: water, air, land, and sky) are interdependent. When things change within a certain ecosystem (for example: when an animal dies or moves elsewhere), the whole system undergoes change. One person's trash is another person's treasure; one chemical's poison is another's source of food; one forest fire creates another forest tree with different characteristics that then can become part of new habitats.

When we adopt healthy practices in our daily lives — starting with eating a balanced diet and avoiding junk food — the impact of our lifestyles on nature is greatly reduced. We can have the convenience of buying organic produce, but it is still produced at a great expense, and it only produces more waste than it recycles. Indoor air quality is better than outdoor air quality, but as one expert notes: "It has never been easy for humans to create an ideal environment, just as impossible to create an ideal street."

Why Nature Matters
We are part of nature — and nature works for us, too. It provides all that we need for life in every way from water to shelter. However, we often don't understand its ways. We may find it hard to live in harmony with nature, and we don't always succeed. For example, many people have a hard time living without electricity. It's a lot harder than you think to recycle our own waste. And it is not easy to grow our own food in the face of climate change and pollution. It would be easy to give up at times and accept the fact that not all of us can live in a natural environment.

As we become aware of these problems, the first step to finding solutions is realizing that we are part of nature's plan. We must also recognize that nature has a plan for us. All we need is a little patience with ourselves and with each other — and a lot more wisdom, love, patience, tolerance, peace, acceptance, and humanity from all of us.

The term "green chemistry" refers to the design of chemical substances on the basis of ecology and sustainability so that they are more environmentally friendly in production as well as in use. These new chemicals and traditional ones are described in terms of the "cradle-to-grave" principle (the chemical's lifespan) and a "cradle-to-cradle" principle (reuse, recovery, or recycling at the end of the chemical's exposure).

The process of bioremediation was developed to deal with pollution involving chemical toxicants. It is done by using naturally occurring microbes and enzymes to break down complex contaminants so that they can be removed from an environment.

The use of recycled materials such as glass, paper, plastic, rubber, metal — which would otherwise be wasted or disposed of — is called waste management.

Conclusion: any natural substance or material that can be used repeatedly (for example: non-perishable food, water), degraded in a controlled environment (for example: sewage, fuel oil), or recycled back into the environment (for example: waste paper)

The cycle of life on Earth is found in many places and at many levels. A great variety of living things are found on the surface of this planet and others at depths beyond that. Fossils are also widespread, from microscopic single-celled organisms to large animals. It is difficult to put together a complete "tree of life" because the fossil record does not reach back very far into time.

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