Language and Thought

My title suggests a book or a lifetime of scholarship, and I may use it for a new series of posts here.  For now, I just want to focus your attention on the mission of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):
 
"... to safeguard the Earth:  Its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends."
 
See how that statement gives the impression that there are three to four separate priorities in safeguarding the Earth?  This may have seemed a complete and illuminating list when it was approved and put into play, but it paints a misleading picture.  It obscures a key fact that's already difficult for an individual to see.  It might even spur controversy that NRDC does not enjoy.  People more easily say "I choose this, but not that."
 
The fact is, the natural systems on which all life depends are substantially composed of the current and former plants and animals of the Earth, what they're producing and what they've produced, subject to laws of physics.  The essential systems are not distinct from all beings.  This explains the unmatched importance of biodiversity.  The size of the planet explains the slow approach (so far) of major system disruptions.  Somehow, these fundamentals have got to emerge from beneath all manner of artifice, trivia  and fashion, to guide our innovations for sustainability.  We need our wild neighbors more than most of our predecessors ever imagined.  Our ability to invent and build does not make them irrelevant.  Thoreau somehow got it:  "In wildness is the preservation of the world."
 
The balance of nature is a phrase that I think is a better guide for our thinking because it's accurate in alluding to a dynamic unity, an integrated whole.  The phrase also offers much less to quibblers.  Safeguarding the balance of nature is another reason to go local; people truly in and of a place can perceive limits and are, in effect, more nimble.  They can perceive and freely change their impacts.
 
It's a long way here from where we're at!  It's a good thing we've begun our approach.