Here we are, on Earth. A planet which spins on its axis and revolves around our Sun. This near perfect sphere of hot plasma orbits around the center of the Milky Way, a spiral galaxy which is being pulled towards Andromeda within our local group. This galactic group is being pushed around inside our cosmic supercluster Laniakea, by galactic groups, clusters and cosmic voids. Laniakea itself lies in the KBC void, amidst the large-scale structure of the Universe. Try thinking about the galaxies the next time when you see a butterfly or when you sit down in front of a beautiful nature scene.
The scale of nature is something that our brains can’t really grasp. We can scientifically measure the distance between Earth and Mars, which is 78,340,000 kilometers, but can you really imagine how long distance is 78 million kilometres? If you measure this by how many time you would need to go around our Earth, the answer is 1954 times. If you somehow manage to comprehend how much is 78 million kilometres, try grasping the scale which lies between us and our neighbouring galaxy, Andromeda. The distance is roughly 2,5 million light-years, so it is about 23,651,826,181,452,000,000 kilometers. Good luck understanding that or something much larger. Similar confusion can be reached when you try to understand the size of subatomic particles.
We know all of this because of the scientific theory, what truly was a revolutionary discovery. Before this enlightenment we had to rely solely on our subjective views of our surroundings and usually there was some story of a imaginary god-like entity, that “knew” the all answers.
Science is different from many other world views. We admitted that we don’t know all the answers to the big questions about our reality, but we would try our best to study these questions. We developed methods, that provide more objective view to our reality. Nowadays science is part of everyday life and the backbone of our civilization is made of it.
As amazing tool science can be, we tend to forget that it is just a method or a language that we humans have invented ourselves. We modern people have grown in a world where it is easy to forget that we are also part of this natural universe. It’s sometimes hard to grasp, that in a way, computer chips are as natural object as a leaf from a tree. To make it even more difficult to understand, they both are made of the same material, as are you. In other words, everything is one enormous thing and our reality is just a perception of a life form that calls itself as human.
When we look nature and its’ complexity, we can easily see that it isn’t designed by humans. With science we can somehow explain how a life-form grows, multiplies and dies, but we still have countless unanswered questions.
Why life has ended up with its current form? Why did life chose so many different forms? Why does some organisms live thousands of years and why the lifespan of mayflies is only about 30 days? As the time passes more slowly to smaller creatures, are humans to trees, just another mayfly? When it comes to consciousness, life or nature itself, it is easy to realize that there is way more questions than answers.
Maybe there is some other side of nature? Something different than the reality that we are used to or our science can measure. Maybe there is something that we just can’t perceive? Maybe we just are more advanced with our technical solutions, but are we are still learning our cognitive possibilities? Humans don’t evolve in same exponential speed as our technology does.
When humans started spreading from the savannas of Africa, was someone thinking why did they started moving? Maybe they were just following random stimuli from their surroundings? Or maybe their habitat wasn’t any more suitable for humans? Maybe some bored individual just decided to find out what lies beyond the stories? Who knows?
The modern environment that we have created for ourselves, has become unfit for humans in many ways. We have altered our nature so much that (un)knowingly we have endangered the survival of our own and of many other species. While we have enjoyed our hedonistic habits, we have ignited a bomb called the climate change. Biodiversity is in rapid decline and we simply cannot wait it to reach bees or some other part of nature that is vital for our own survival.
We tend portray ourselves as these unnaturally intelligent creatures and we have a weird habit of separating ourselves from the other lifeforms. Sure we are the only one on this planet that can build virtual realities, but is this really an intelligent or difficult thing to do?
It’s fairly easy to feel fragile if you compare yourself against some older life forms, like tardigrades or hydras. While tardigrades can survive the void of space, the hydras, these small water creatures can live forever if the habitat stays suitable. You can put any number of hydras to petri dish and use a centrifuge to separate all of their cells. After you have disintegrated these hydras, about in a week they will reorganize their cells and you’ll end up with the same amount of hydras that you originally put in to the “blender”.
Few other examples, take a look at plants. They ”eat” the sun and ”drink” from the dirt and while doing it, these incredible things feed the whole planet. Ants have been here 130 million years and despite their size they have conquered six continents. 15-20 percent of the planet’s biomass is ants. These tiny and organized communities have been so successful, that their existence can’t be shaken by some primate that has been here only for around 300,000 years. We tend to get this false feeling that surviving is easy. Food grows in shops, water comes from the tap and electricity magically emerges from the socket. But what happens if the magic stops?
How many of us would die if the electricity would go out indefinitely? How would you survive if you were dropped buck naked to middle of a forest and you would have to start living there? Do you know where to find or how to make drinkable water? Do you know how to gather or grow food? We can survive without water from few days to a week, as some animals can be years without drinking or eating.
When you start to think of it, modern era human is fairly weak. Years of exploiting nature has taught us to think that, nature is just another commodity made for humans. Many of us has forgotten our primal knowledge how to live in harmony with the planet or how to survive without modern technology. We tend to forget that we are the fly and the nature is the flyswatter. Our technology makes us feel untouchable, but like this recent pandemia reminds us, all it takes is a simple virus and our society is on its knees. Rock solid castles that we once built now seem like castles made of sand, slowly falling to the sea.
Despite and because our faults, we are still part of this amazingly surprising natural world. Everything what we have and will build is part of nature, even the brand new digital world. This new digital reality that we are currently building can feel like an alien and somehow fake world that is separated from the real world, but the feeling we all get is biased.
One way to think about the relationship of digital world and the nature is to look its effects. The digital world itself is disconnected from the nature, but the access to it isn’t. When you read this with your device, you affect directly to the nature. Resources that you need for accessing the internet have severe effects to our planet.
Materials used in the devices and the power needed to create and use them damage our planet in many ways. Manufacturing our devices has created several negative impacts, such as modern day slavery, environmental issues and many other “hidden” effects.
But don’t fall in to despair, digital world isn’t all bad. You can use it to get knowledge about nature and by doing that it is possible to enrich your “real life” experience. You can learn to avoid actions that harm our nature and you can even learn to understand yourself and humanity with better understanding of our Nature. Better knowledge is the way forward.
I hope that we decide to step back and start manufacturing goods that last. Everything we make should be made with renewable energy, fully recyclable, repairable and updating your devices should be mainly software based. It’s a long and bumpy road, but I think ending this idiotic and impossible idea of endless growth and consumerism should be our main goal.
In Finnish, Luonto also means your character. So as much as this series is about the natural environment, this series is a way to exlplore my inner voice. My nature is to think this kind of thoughts, maybe just for the fun of it. Sometimes I like to share these thoughts. Luonto – series observes everything around us, excluding humans. This series takes a look at life-forms that still have their ability to survive in the wild, buck naked. No matter is it a bear or spore from a mushroom.
It doesn’t matter is it a movie, photo or a game. There are certain reactions in us, that emerge only by looking at something. A beautiful flower, art, your own child or a boring wall. The experience is the same. Whether it is the sound that comes from the massive eagle flying past you, few meters below your feet or the unique sight of multicolored northern lights. It’s all about that you are there. Reacting to a stimulus created by the Nature, makes you connected to it and at the same time to your own character.
Part of my nature is to walk slowly in the nature, just observing, enjoying the moment. Taking it all in, breathing. Being in awe in the loudest silence. Another liking of mine is to explore nature and with my camera.
This series is my way of unwind with and to be amazed whatever I happen to stumble upon. My nature believes that the purest form of art is to interact with something and just drift in the thoughts that this stimulus has created in your head.
Your thoughts create the art, not mine.
“Beneath the blossoms with a pot of wine,
No friends at hand, so I poured alone;
I raised my cup to invite the moon,
Turned to my shadow, and we became three.”