Humans, Animals, and the Environment

Pygmi-Chimp“[Animals] are not bretheren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time.”

Henry Beston, Autumn, Ocean, and Birds, The Outermost House, 1928

Bonds between humans and nature have always been recognized by both science and religion. The original state of innocence proposed by revealed religion was in a garden, the Garden of Eden, and a good man was assigned to build an ark and save nature, God’s Creation, when God flooded the earth.

The evidence of evolution and anthropology is that humans always depended on intimate connections with plants, animals, and the heavens to feed and shelter themselves and find their way. The evidence from ecology and geophysics is that the biosphere that sustains human life is a delicate skin over the planet that it has been damaged and is alarmingly in need of attention and tending by the humans whose domination of the planet has challenged its integrity.

CENSHARE seeks to promote the scientific study and public awareness of deep and significant bonds between humanity and all of nature—plants, animals, forests, oceans, and global ecosystems.

There are so many questions to be explored. . . .

What does the extinction of species cost humanity in emotional, practical, and spiritual terms?

What is there to be learned about healthy bonds between nature and humans, and how can healthy bonds be encouraged and maintained?

In what ways is cultural, emotional, intellectual, and physiological health involved with bonds with nature?

Why have the great spiritual leaders traditionally gone to nature to meditate?

What does restoration or nurturing of the spirit imply in physiological terms?

Why are patients known to heal faster when they have access to gardens, pets, or even simply windows overlooking natural scenes?

Why will people pay such large prices for scenic home sites and to live in well-landscaped neighborhoods?

What is the value to society of its local and national parks and wild areas?

What is the urgency of the protection of nature today?

How can priorities be set?

How can protection plans be improved?

What can be learned to favor the construction of life-styles that will reinforce the bonds between nature and humans in healthy ways and thus improve both the human condition and the condition of the planet?

Spotlight provided by Philip J. Regal, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota,
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