One can argue that it is natural for organisms to change their environment. Elephants topple trees, changing forests to grasslands, and people cut down trees and plant crops. Who is to say which is more natural? In fact, few organisms do not change their environment. People have known this for a long time, but the idea that people might change nature to their advantage was unpopular in the last decades of the 20th century. At that time, the word environment suggested something separate “out there” implying that people were not part of nature. Today, environmental sciences are showing us how people and nature connect, and in what ways this is beneficial to both.
With growing recognition of the environment’s importance, we are becoming more Earth-centered. We seek to spend more time in nature for recreation and spiritual activities. We accept that we have evolved on and with the Earth and are not separate from it. Although we are evolving fast, we remain genetically similar to people who lived more than 100,000 years ago.
Do you ever wonder why we like to go camping, to sit around a fire at night roasting marshmallows and singing, or exchanging scary stories about bears and mountain lions? More than ever, we understand and celebrate our union with nature as we work toward sustainability. Most people recognize that we must seek sustainability not only of the environment but also of our economic activities, so that humanity and the environment can persist together.