The first part of Nature was interesting, but I thought it discussed a lot of things with very little detail and then repeated the same ideas over and over again. It also seemed like there was a lot of information that didn’t exactly relate to the topic of the attitudes that people have had of nature, though Coates obviously interpreted that differently, I just didn’t always understand the link and he didn’t point it out specifically.
I think it is interesting to look at the changing definition of nature through time, but the common link of otherness. It seems that in some way nature has always been a structure separate from humans, and with some sort of mysticism to it, despite that it has changed from being a place set aside for gods, a place to be feared, to a place that as humans is our rightful claim and we must conquer it, to a place to be held above all others and protected.
The amount with which Coates seems to believe Christianity has played in the destruction of nature kind of surprised me. As a Christian who has always really cared about the environment, I have never interpreted the Bible as saying that humans have a right to everything and can just destroy the earth, I’ve had the more Franciscan view of needing to conserve things and all creatures being important in God’s creation. However, I do understand where Coates and others have seen that Christianity has played a role in the destruction of nature.
I also think it’s really common for people to assume that pre-Columbian societies had little or no negative impact on the natural world surrounding them, and I think this mostly has to do with the racist views of those peoples being more like animals, and therefore more closely related to nature. I think its important to look back and see that humans have always impacted the environment, and changed their surroundings, and its important to note that no society was perfect in their efforts to not do this, so we shouldn’t be taking all of our cues from any one society. However, I think it is also important to note that the impact we are having right now is much higher than it has been in the past whether because of the large increase in population, our changed food source, or increased use of fuels.
This book gives a very baseline understanding of how nature has been interpreted and how we have interacted with it over the years, but it also shows how we got to the beliefs that we have, and may hold a key as to how we can continue to change ideas about nature and its importance to society, not as separate entities, but as two parts of a whole.
Great Britain has officially decided to stop using coal as a source of energy. They have recently converted or closed many coal plants including the world’s largest plant: Drax Power Station. This is especially significant because coal has been one of the main drivers of Britain’s economy since its beginning and is what put them on the map as an empire during the industrial revolution. By 2025 the UK plans on completely removing the use of coal, which is an extremely dirty fuel. This has been a common trend in the developed world, though places such as the US, Germany, and Austria have not begun to follow suit.