Rika Cossey

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Human nature, biodiversity and “Breaking Boundaries”​

I recently watched Netflix’s documentary “Breaking Boundaries – The science of our planet” which aims to explain how to save the world from climate change and biodiversity loss. I liked the way information was presented and how it was structured. It left me with a can-do-attitude and with practical steps to counter our current development. My son even began to question the amount of meat he ate at school and wants to ask the school for more non-meat options. I requested more tofu and plant-based products at our local shop.

I can feel our consciousness shifting.

However, there is also one aspect that I thought was missing from the equation: our human need for security and comfort.

A Constant Buzz

After I watched the documentary, I went outside to check on my garden (which I can do at 10 pm in summer in Sweden). As I was marvelling at the few potatoes that have managed to outgrow the weeds, I heard a lot of mosquitoes circling my head. There was an almost constant buzz. I couldn’t help but think that I don’t like mosquitoes and could live happier without them.

And that moment, with that thought of not wanting a species around me, I realised what is at the core of our problem today. Even further, I’m lucky because I know that our mosquitoes are a mere annoyance and don’t carry deadly diseases. I have no obvious reason to question their existence.

And, in the name of biodiversity, I should be happy they exist because mosquitoes are bird food and I like birds. Without mosquitoes, there will be fewer birds. Even further, mosquitoes are also food sources for fish, turtles, frogs, dragonflies, and bats. And they act as pollinators for our plants. All animal species and all plants who rely on mosquitoes in one way or another might have smaller populations if there were no more buzzers. 

Accepting All Life

So, the call of “Breaking Boundary” to stop the loss of biodiversity comes with a huge obstacle – the acceptance that not all species on the planet are beneficial for human beings and sometimes their health. And that not all species are something we want to meet when stepping outside.

And that brings me to another point: the perceived danger when stepping outside. I just recently had a conversation with a friend about going for walks in the forest. I go every day with my dog and we almost always meet deer. We have met three elks, snakes, and foxes as well as seen boar from a distance. None of these animals is dangerous per sé, but they carry a sense of danger we have created.

My friend mentioned that she thought I was brave to walk by myself. I just grinned and said that going for walks was the reason I got a dog. Not that my puppy would be able to protect me (she’s much too occupied with herself), but she gives me a sense of security.

We have been conditioned to think of nature and wildlife as our enemy. Yes, some animals could attack without much sensible (human) reason, but most have a very valid reason for doing so. Even a brown snake in Australia would only attack if surprised and cornered. Sharks don’t eat people, and wolves don’t hunt them.

And yet, the fear, which was real for our ancestors, stays with us and creates a distance between “nature” and “us”. And that distance can lead to careless behaviour and a lack of empathy and understanding for the role of each creation on the planet.

Comfort And Control

We, humans, gravitate towards a sense of comfort and control. Facing situations we cannot control is not just something I see my clients avoiding. And I also see it in our human relationship to nature. If we don’t feel safe (perceived or real), we turn towards our ability to turn it off. Or we seek to control and eradicate that we cannot control. And in the process, we destroy not just biodiversity but all life on earth.

“Breaking Boundaries” is an awesome documentary to shed some light on what is happening on the planet. It’s a great bird’s eye perspective on our ecosystem and our human role in it. Just, unfortunately, it overlooks the fact that decisions are not just based on markets and profits alone. They are also based on the fact that we humans have a very simple need to feel secure and comfortable. And we are told that nature doesn’t always provide that. So, it’s easier to eradicate that which makes us feel unsafe and unable to control. And biodiversity pays the price.

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