To understand how
nature sustains life, we need to
move from biology to
sustained life is a property of an
ecosystem rather than a single
organism or species.
means understanding the principles of organization of ecosystems that
web of life.
The waste of one form of life is the sustenance of
another form of life; organic matter cycles continually through the web of
life; photons flowing form the sun
drive ecological cycles; diversity assures
Life colonized the planet through symbosis not
different aspects of a single fundamental pattern of organization that has
enabled nature to sustain complex life for millions of years.
Nature sustains life by creating
and nurturing communities
No individual organism can exist
depend on the photosynthesis of plants for their energy needs; plants depend on
the carbon dioxide produced by animals, as well as on the nitrogen fixed by
bacteria at their roots; and together plants, animals, and microorganisms
regulate the entire biosphere and maintain the conditions conducive to
Sustainability is not an individual property but a property of an
entire web of relationships. Sustainability always involves a
Sustainability does not mean that things remain the
same as sustainability is a dynamic process of co-evolution rather than a
literacy understands ecological sustainability involves a web of fluctuating
patterns of organization of symbiotic relationships.
a fragile and lovely
unfolds its gleaming foliage
breast of the fostering
if the dew and the rain draw it forth;
So doth my tender
if it be fed with the sweet dew of the fostering spirit,
Lacking this, it beginneth straightway to languish,
even as a
flower born upon dry earth,
if the dew and the rain tend it
The truth is found in the simple and
intricate messages of smell.
I smelled the wind today.
What precisely it smelled like I can not say.
Only that there
was a hint of spicy pine and the rich scent of wet earth.
I have been
thinking about smells because I have never truly noticed them before.
live in a house in the country, far beyond the limits of the city and nestled
along the shores of Lake Superior.
The area around me is heavily wooded
with a winding dirt road that cuts a clearing through the
dark recess of the
forest is a hub of continuous activity.
The light, playful sounds of the many
birds and squirrels, and the
heavier cracks and thumps of deer and other large animals as they go about
their day, are constant.
Numerous small streams trickle from within
these hidden areas and run laughing through culverts under the road to the
In the summer, the floor of the
forest fascinates me with the soft moss
and beautiful, delicate
flowers that carpet the ground
beneath the towering trees.
winter, I love the way the snow lies heavily on the boughs of the
evergreens and the quiet the
deep cold brings.
On a walk early one
morning, while I was admiring
the melting snow and enjoying the warmth of the sun on my back, that it hit
The wind had a smell!
Not just a smell, but every scent from
every item in the vast wilderness around me was carried
by the wind.
I had not been aware of it before, I understood perfectly
that these scents contained a message - the messages of scent carried aloft by
ancestors once mastered the secrets locked in these scents, but that
ability has been lost to me: I can understand, however, that these messages
cannot be unlocked by my conscious mind.
I know that these
scents can only be translated by the
subconscious instincts within me.
imagine that the language of
scent can be both simple and complex.
scent is unique.
cannot lie and they cannot bluff.
Animals sniff their food and learn to
distinguish by smell what is safe to eat and what will make them sick.
There is no deceit or treachery in a smell; there is only the truth.
Perhaps this is why humans have lost the ability to understand the
language of scent.
We use our language to hide,
to confuse and, only
rarely, to tell the truth.
People have forgotten the
truth of Nature.
is found in the simple and intricate messages of smell.
Smell is the
silent, fragrant language of nature.
- adapted from Lynley Scott
"It is not accidental that all phenomena of human
life are dominated by the search
for daily bread - the oldest link connecting all living things, man
included, with the surrounding nature." - Ivan Pavlov
"Ultimately, I believe, the discovery reveals the genetic
infrastructure of the myriad species on the tree of life is actually far more
"open access," and therefore both resilient/changeable and fragile, than ever
In other words, non-coding RNAs make
possible a horizontal
process of 'communicating," 'exchanging,' and incorporating vitally important
information in a relatively free manner, and in real time versus glacial
And as a result, species, across all kingdoms, are integrated into
a web-like interdependence
collaboration that was hitherto considered, from the
biology, genetics, and
orthodox evolutionary biology,
impossible." - Sayer Ji
"We live in a cooperative
biological world which possess many features of life, most notably homeostatic
regulation of temperature, gases, salinity, and
Each species contributes some way to the
lagoons that help remove salt from the
ocean, which would otherwise double in salinity in just 60 million years.
Photosynthesizing algae and rainforests produce the oxygen that
sustains animal life, while other mechanisms prevent oxygen levels from going
too high and sparking devastating planet-wide forest fires.
accelerate rock weathering to bring carbon out of the atmosphere, while marine
animals eventually turn that carbon into shells ultimately sequestered on the
And something, some combination of organic and inorganic
processes, has kept earth's surface temperature stable as
the sun's apparent brightness has
increased by 30 or 40% over three billion years." -
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