A week or so ago, I wrote about my favourite (endangered) Garry oak meadow. I wasn't very clear. As often happens, I was arguing from more than one place at once. A couple of commenters misunderstood me completely... and I don't blame them. I was pretty muddled. Here's what I was trying to say (and I'll try to be clearer).
Our world has reached a stage where hardly anything is "natural." Think about it. Try to name just one thing. It's nearly impossible, given how much we humans have altered the planet. Even the weather... which would seem the most natural thing of all... is so mucked up because of what we've done to the environment.
Last year, some scientists reported the results of their study of highrise window grime around Toronto. They found significant amounts of chemicals banned in North America for decades... presumably carrried here by atmospheric systems from less developed countries with fewer regulations.
More recently, I listened to a radio doc. in which a young Canadian recounted her experience living in China for a year. She tried to ride a bicycle and couldn't; couldn't breathe. Even walking, she said she sometimes vomited from the sheer thickness of the air pollution.
Tempting, when you hear that, to look around smugly at your own apparently wide-open spaces, and clean air, and pristine wilderness... but, no. It's not pristine. Nothing is any more. Because the whole broader global ecosystem has been altered in presumably irreversable ways.
And here's another anecdote to illustrate the point.
Some years ago, there was a massive fire in Yellowstone Park; it burned for weeks. It stymied all firefighting efforts and, at one point, someone said "Why not let it burn?" That's what would happen in nature, after all. Forest fires were part of the natural order of things... clearing out brush and dead wood and whatnot and making space for rejuvenated habitat.
But that only works within a natural system. And we ain't got one. Not any more. And no... I'm not despairing... just trying (not too successfully I fear) to make my argument that almost NOTHING is natural.
Living in houses? Driving cars? Using computers? Flying in planes? It's all way-out shit when you really stop and think about it.
Which makes rubber masks seem... well... if not natural, then certainly within the range of "normal" in today's world.
But... wait. There IS something natural left.
Love. Long may it reign. And may we some day reach a place where no one is judged or punished or ostracized for who they love. Because that's the most unnatural phenomenon of all.
(Added to the Cream of the Crop pool as most interesting, as judged by Flickr.)