Nature – Livings and non-livings in environment
Nature is something that exists from the beginning of the earth. It was growing by itself, and renewing itself without help of anything else. Later, animals and human beings settled on the earth, and they became a part of it. By this settlement, while the nature happened to be the earth itself; it, the nature, also became an environment for the animals and human beings.
At first environment was just our surroundings, but while it was enough for animals to be a “home”, human being did not confine himself to live so. Actually, both animals and humans created their own environment with shaping the nature for themselves. However while animals were shaping it without harming it and using the potential of what the nature gives them, human beings could not make the same. So that, animals became a part of natural environment while human beings were constantly keep separating themselves from it and instead of being a part of it, human being put itself at the center.
Understanding the environment
Environment is what is surrounding us basically, with all the livings and non-livings. Environment is not only a spatial thing, but also it concerns what is in that space. When we look ourselves, our legs, our arms, when we feel our skin, we can also think that it is our environment. What we can see, touch, hear, taste or smell, in one word whatever we sense is a part of our environment. For that reason, it is not possible to define where the “I” ends and where the “environment” start (Erzen, 2006). Point is that, what our environment does have and what we would not want environment to have. Cars, buildings, traffic, lambs, sidewalks… They are the parts of our surroundings.
Perhaps we are not being aware in a daily rush of our lives, but when we step out of the buildings, there are also livings that we share the earth; there are birds singing on branches of the trees with the sound of leaves that occurs with the wind. However as mentioned, while environment, at first, made from total nature, purity of livings, now because of human wants to shape it, we have many other things in our environment. So that we are losing the awareness of environment.
Maybe it is because a human being is a cultural creatures, not natural as animals. As humans, we started to live as a part of culture not a nature. We create our own culture, meanings, values, perspectives and so on. This is maybe the main thing that demonstrate the differences between human beings and animals. Because of that, as human beings we did not think a lot about environment as we would never need it.
With technology, this division between nature/environment and human started to be easily visible, because of the excessive interventions of human. It should be thought on even before having one step in nature, but human did not care anything. Now, human is yearning for nature.
When we became that much careless, how we could be that blind, why we still do not do a lot before it is too late.
Human luxuries and selfishness did cause the all of this. We built buildings, big buildings. We created cars, fast cars… We did everything we thought we need. Maybe they were needs for us, but by putting ourselves at the center of everything, we could not see what we are losing. What else we need to have if we even started to lose the relaxing smell of the soil when it rain.
Buildings are one of the most harmful human made creatures on the earth, for trees, for animals and for human beings, because of the excessive waste and carbon monoxide they cause, not only before and during construction, but also during its life span.
To stop or lessen this harm, there is a trendy topic called “green building”. The green building was aiming to create and built a building that is friendly for nature and its environment. The mission is basically lessen the harm that buildings cause the nature and help it to be alive while not giving up from the “luxuries” or “needs” that people have. Green buildings would use the rain for garden, the used sink water would be used in toilets, and there would be natural daylight usage more to decrease energy waste for lighting and heat. Again technology helped people to create some new techniques to lessen that energy consume. What is surprising is that they take examples from the nature. So, they are going back to nature with inspiring from it.
Furthermore, this kind of “green building” policy is being under control of some kind of certifications. Even though the aim of certification at first was compare and create a competition-like care and awareness for environment, later on it started to be an advertisement topic, instead of environmental concerns. Architectural firms began to achieve building “green buildings” with completing the necessities of certifications. However they make it for economic concerns unfortunately.
As Joseph Jardins mentions in his book, we cannot talk about a good environmental ethics without understanding its philosophy, theories and its roles (2006). Unfortunately, what we do for nature and environment is sometimes not innocent as it sounds, even though it starts with pure ideas, because we are not internalizing the environment like animals do.
As Edward Elgar says environmental behaviors should be examined with their equality and justice. They should be focused on results and their effects to the future generations. Also these all philosophies have to deal with the moral of the non-human world within the sustainability ideas too. Sustainability should have more concerns than economic valuations, but should cover total environmental interactions and aspects.
Why we are doing it, what we are doing it, when we should do it and how we should do it are the basic question to ask ourselves before acting. Is not it the reason of our situation? Acting without thinking… And now human being is seeking for a solution to be a part of its natural environment, instead of separating himself from it.
We should always keep in our minds that we cannot be “we” without natural environment, we cannot replace it, we cannot imitate it, and neither live without it. Selfishness would never bring us anything, yet it will take from us.
Bateman, I., Turner, R.K., (2001) Environmental Ethics and Philosophy,
Edward Elgar Publishing, USA
Des Jardins, J.R., (2006) Environmental Ethics: An Introduction to Environmental Philosophy,
(p. 521), Wadsworth Publishing Company Press
Erzen, J., (2006). Çevre Estetiği. (p.5)
ODTÜ Press, Ankara