Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
As a part of species living biosphere, human, has frequent interaction with other parts of the biosphere, ecosystem, and even more aspects. People have affected nature in good, bad, and long-term ways, meanwhile, nature has left a variety of effects on humans. People cut down trees, burn the oil, and claim and space for them to develop; at the same time, abandoned artificially transformed areas got taken up by nature again, lawns became forests and roads got covered by vegetations. People certainly realize the value of nature but as the side-effect of rapid development, negative effects happened and are happening to nature. However, people are also trying to protect nature from themselves. At the same time, nature itself is changing to adapt to the environment altered by humans. A movie called Leave No Trace has discussed the connection between a person, that abandoned the rest of the people, and nature and other people. The dislike of people made him love nature. The role of the human in this film was not a destroyer of nature, but a bystander that watch the relationship between the main character and his daughter and shows how people and nature change each other.
People never stop thinking about their relationship with nature. I found a poster of the movie Leave No Trace, the main characters all have a close relationship with the wild. In the film, the main character, Will, is a Veteran with PTSD raising his daughter, Tom, as a single dad. They lived in a forest near Portland, Oregon, and they had their shelter and a small garden. They only go to Portland once a month for necessities. The wilderness, lack of people, usually be regarded as dangerous and indifferent place. Why it is regarded as a shelter for somebody? The trace here can stand for traces and marks done by people in nature, influenced by other people on people, and effect on people by nature. In this case, people who chose to live in the wilderness can be seen as does not want to live with other people. This can be made by multiple reasons, the most obvious two of them are hurt by people and the love for nature.
The main character is a veteran with PTSD. He got PTSD in a war or wars. War is a kind of cruel violent behavior of humans. And that is why he naturally dislike living with people but live in the wilderness. Seeking cure is an instinct of every living creatures. So Will, the main character, moved away from people. Living in forests and taking care of a small garden relieved his issue, which can be proved that he did not take any excessive action. This seems like a proof of nature healing people. A research done by a graduate student at the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University has shown that visiting green space can positively affect people’s mood. “But the volunteers who had strolled along the quiet, tree-lined paths showed slight but meaningful improvements in their mental health, according to their scores on the questionnaire. Before this experiment, the volunteers were tested to have a relatively high level of stress gained from their everyday lives. After the experiment, the group that went to walk in a quiet leafy garden shown a lower level of stress than before; the group that had the walk by a noisy highway gained even more stress than before. This further means that living in forests for a long time can have more positive effects, which are strong enough to heal or at least ease Will’s PTSD.
People can find the best-fit places for them to live, nature can also quickly adapt to new environments. During the time of Will living in the forest, he obtained a garden to sustain his life. A garden in the forest certainly affected the natural environment. It is also easy to deduce that soon after Will left his shelter, his garden will be taken up by nature quickly and in years it will be a part of forest again just like the time before discovered by people. Nature adapts new environments at a quick pace. A further example can be seen in an assessment of raptor displacement at a newly constructed wind farm posted on recent Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. Raptors are the population that lives in that area for years, but people have built a large wind farm in that area. This is a huge change happens in a relatively short period. Normal thoughts on this were that this dramatic damage to the wilderness will destroy the local raptor community. But the wilderness has shown its strong ability to adapt to new conditions. Obviously, the population of the raptors declined at first when the wind farm is constructed. But only seven to eight years later, raptors have taken up space again. Since the abiotic condition can not be the same anymore, the combination of reappearing raptor species and the population have also changed. More species than have better ability in the altered condition has taken up a bigger proportion of the population of raptors. But it worth to say that this assessment has pointed out the importance of having assessments on raptor communities and wind farms, and further leads to the point that people can change the environment, but sometimes how nature would change is not predictable. This phenomenon can also happen to people. Back to the story of the main character, his PTSD can be relieved, but the potential of preference for living in nature will not be easy to be changed.
There must be some ways to let people and nature have a positive relationship. Just like what’s shown at the end of the film, Tom found a way to get along with his father after she grew up. Will himself does not like living in the human community but his daughter has disagreed with on him and chose to live with people instead. The relationship between them cannot be erased but the living styles were the opposite. So there came up with an eclectic approach, Tom supports his father by hanging up living supply in a bag on a tree regularly and Will accepts this kindness in a tacit agreement. This close relationship between the two different identities is similar to the relationship between humans and nature. A good example of this happens in Alaska. To protect salmon, local people started to protect salmon nurseries. A report on documenting and protecting salmon streams in Alaska has been posted on the official site of Alaska Department of Fish and Game. A big reason why people protect salmon is the big economic value appeared on salmon. But it cannot be denied that protection salmon streams are also protection habitats of many other species. This kind of good trace done by human is just like Will and Tom, they do not share the same habitat, but they care about each other.
There are also differences between these two kinds of situations. The situation of Will and Tom only happens between two people but protecting salmon nurseries has involved people from all kinds of backgrounds, and they have created lists and catalogs that document local fish species and water systems. The lists are accessible to the public. People work in nature and record down the data that can provide solutions for protecting nature. Unlike the assessment on raptors and wind farms, this can be an example of a well developed long-term research project that many people participated in. On the other hand, the assessment of the raptors and wind farm is an example of emerging projects that people try to figure out the fact of relationship with nature behind new events that happened. For example, wind energy is a kind of green energy that developed into matured technology recently, raptors haven’t met wind turbines before and people did not know what would happen, too. But now the relationship between them has been discovered so in the future, suitable solutions will be carried out to improve the current situation. For example, induce the raptors to settle somewhere else or make them stay away from the turbines by painting the turbines to some certain colors.
Prevent raptors from crashing on wind turbines seems like what the constructors and the large companies should care about, is there anything every individual can do when visiting wild areas? Back to the title of the film, “leave no trace”, itself is an important principle to follow when people doing outdoor activities. The original starting point of this was to minimize human impact on natural environments. “Leave no trace” can be described by seven major concepts, I am mentioning some of them here, “dispose of waste properly”, “respect wildlife” and “be considerate of other visitors”. These concepts are considering wilderness and human equality and assuming people can do more damage to nature. When people visiting nature they should ‘leave no trace’ but they can be inadvertently affected by nature. In the film, the aspect was changed to Will and other people. Originally “trace” means the effect that people have done to nature, but in this film, it stands for how Will is affected by others. Nature is a good object for emotional sustenance. On the poster, the characters do not look happy when they were heading out of the woods, in this case, it stands for nature. Different people would value nature differently. The woods are the place that they have lived so long and regarded as the home, that city is a strange place to them. Leaving home is not always a thing to be happy about. Will is sad because he has to move to a place that filled with things he does not like and Tom is nervous because she is going to an unfamiliar place. With years living in forests, Will named his daughter with a boy’s name, Tom, may contain his hope that his daughter would be strong enough to live with him in the wilderness and be independent. In common sense, the wilderness is dangerous that people should not live there. However, people live in modern cities would never have a chance to experience the charm of nature.
The relationship between people and the wilderness is complicated. Effects are happening on both sides of them. Inadvertent things cannot be described clearly. Will chose to live in the forests to heal himself, raptors showed up again in that wind farm, people feel better after walking in nature, and people protecting salmon in Alaska can be seen as people and nature interact with each other. Thousands of years ago, people were protecting themselves from nature. They were so fragile that they merely have chances to be alive for more than fifty or sixty years. It seemed that everything can kill them simply. They had low productivity so they had to go hunting, fishing, and gathering to get enough food. The supply was not guaranteed and people lost their lives in that process for various reasons. They still tried and strived to live on this planet. As time changes, they developed skills of farming and grazing, families got together to form villages and villages came together to some good places to form cities. Suddenly they found out that nature is no threat to them, they now have the power to destroy the planet. All kinds of traces have been made and more potentials are going to be discovered. There may be a fragile relationship between human and nature or it can also be said that human is a part of nature, affecting other parts of nature will lead some kinds of impacts on themselves.
That kind of situation has started a long time ago. People had struggled to survive when they have just come into being, nature is the thing that rules everything at that time. But now people can destroy everything on this planet. What made this huge progress? Time is important in this process but also the power of agriculture. The most fundamental factor to increase the human population is to make sure the food supply. The formation of agriculture has set free some people from gathering food every day and let them have time to spend on other things, like primitive arts and science. Plenty of food makes the human population growth, human civilization to develop. With time and enough population, people can then develop their technology and with all of those accumulated and exploded in recent centuries, the industrial revolution could happen. Back to around 10,000 years BC, “During the process of domestication, people began to select better plant materials for propagation and animals for breeding, initially unwittingly, but ultimately to develop improved food crops and livestock.”(Wieczorek 2014). Since then, nature’s binding force on humans has become weaker and weaker.
It seems that with the development of all aspects of human, people are separating them from nature. Which makes the definition of nature to be more like the parts of the ecosystem besides humans. People have domesticated plants and animals to make their life easier and made those domesticated species divide from the definition from nature, too. But some situations are showing that nature itself is changing to adapt to the environment altered by humans and trying to turn them back into scenes before humans came. Outside the USA, abandoned villages and cities in Siberia are generally being taken over by nature. Maybe by years of erosion, those areas would become tundra again in the future. In California, people have sucked too much groundwater that causes ground subsidence, but if people move away, nature would fix it by time. Nature in a broad sense will not disappear even if we die out for all kinds of reason as long as the planet is not exploded. In my opinion, if we treat nature bad in the rate that is faster than its self-recovery rate, we are sure to be dead before nature is dead. Then after we died, nature will take time to recover from all these effects since, without humans, things can not be worse. Treat nature better is the same as treating ourselves better, for our species continuation and even just a better environment to live in this generation’s lifespan, it’s a win-win situation.