Nature was a nice read, but definitely slow. Actually, after the first half, my interest quickly waned. Coates gives so much historical context for how and why “nature” is viewed, but he does often digress. I enjoy that he doesn’t exactly state his own feelings on nature, allowing the reader to feel how they feel when reading of each time period, although sometimes I feel like he almost lets his own interpretations peek through. Here are some points I felt more strongly about:
Dualism: Coates writes on how the Greeks viewed nature as everything material. By this definition, many aspects life now considered natural would be unnatural–the human mind and behavior being the one that really sticks out to me. We still consider ourselves separate and different from nature, but then blame some of our behaviors on human nature (e.g. “boys will be boys,” “competition is natural,” “animals are supposed to have sex,” etc).
Nature Sells: “At that time (1920s), images of nature were used for purposes of reassurance, to smooth they way for modernity and to soften its shock. Nowadays, they are deployed to seduce customers enchanted by modernity. Nature can sell cigarettes, cars, and shampoo as effectively as can sex” This made me a little angry actually, because this is how food producers market factory meat and produce from intensive farms, and I hate it. Companies use colors and phrases on their packaging that remind consumers of the ideal farm, making them feel like buying it is safer and better (whatever “better” means). Ugh.
Stewardship: The idea that humans are higher than animals. I don’t know how to take this. I believe we should try to make decisions that more positively affect the environment, but not because we are higher than the other creatures that live in it with us. Maybe if you’re going by frontal lobe development we are higher than many animals, but we should respect them. Sometimes we need to make decisions that are kinder to them, even if it means more work for us.
Main Point: Humans and nature cannot develop without the influence of the other. This is true. We are a part of nature, even if we are apart from it.
Eco-feminism: I still have some more research to do on eco-feminism, but it was interesting to see examples of women as forerunners of conservationism but also as major contributors to environmental harm.
Nazis: Jews only eat kosher meat (which is supposed to be slaughtered more kindly–which I believe after seeing the horrors of conventional slaughterhouses), but the Nazis called it cruel to place more hatred on Jews???