Nature Doesn’t Care. It Just Is.

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What matters, if anything?  Whatever value is inherent to whatever holds it, only has value because there is something there to contain it.  Carl Sagan once said: “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”  And such is Nature, as it is inorganic and neutral when it comes to any kind of values scale.  Rather, it is simply the arena where all life plays out. Humans just use the term “nature” to collectively describe the place where things exist and carry on doing whatever it is they do. The only things that matter, is only made such by the organisms capable of experiencing things that have consequences. They enliven threads of the web in which they crawl and are connected by. Life has value because survival depends on appreciation of self-awareness (even if unconsciously) and the desire/will to help promote perpetuation of such.

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Indeed, consequences matter, and thus perspective has relative value, as can be seen in the analysis of predator prey relationships. To a snake it only matters that it catch the sculpin. To a sculpin, it only matters that it can out swim the snake.  Fortunately  for a snake, its  mistake is far less costly than that of a sculpin. The snake  can learn from a mistake and continue on, but the sculpin  is gone forever when it trips up, unable to adjust to its mistake and thus no longer matters.

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There is no getting around the fact that nature is harsh. It is uncaring, plays no favorites, takes no prisoners, always been, always will be, and ever to have the last word as the ultimate fate master.  “Whatever we do the web, we do to our selves,” said Chief Seattle,  is only so true. As is the Zen saying that a frog does not drink up all the water from the pond it which is lives. Both are  quite appropriate in characterizing that man or beast has a cause and effect relationship to nature. Furthermore, we are mere children of nature, ever ready to be reprimanded for our poor decisions whenever they happen.  To get the whip or the chocolate all comes from what we choose to do, or not do.

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And that is the hard part, for often the majority of brothers and sisters must also pay for the atrocious behavior committed by the minority of their siblings poor behavior.  Selfishness and avarice is usually at the heart of poor behavior. Ravaging the planet to extract natural resources beyond sustainable levels is often the result of such callous activities.  Though nature does not care, it does respond with the whip.  Severity of punishment is swirled out in proportion  to the corruption.

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There will always be the lions and the gazelles when it comes to comparing how humans live upon their landscapes. Community is relegated by who eats who, always fluctuating up and down as one side of the balancing boards plays back and forth. However, humans have the ability to break the fulcrum, so nature may take the game away completely when that happens. When mankind denies nature’s clues, (like in climategate) often revealed through the science that measures such things  impacting that fulcrum, it is done with great peril.  Ignoring the lion won’t eliminate the threat of being eaten. In fact, it increases the chances of downfall by our own hands.

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Gary Lane
Wapiti River Guides
www.doryfun.com

 

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Old Man Winter. Mother Earth. Why Humans Antropormorphize?

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It is a curious thing we humans do with many aspects of nature. Calling it “her” as if it can be either feminine or masculine to begin with, or giving elements outside ourselves any other attributes that are human like, is ironically only human nature. The fancy word “anthropormorphic” simply stands for the idea that humans attribute human characteristics to things that are not human.

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Mother Earth, Father Sun, Old Man Winter, Grandmother Ocean, Grandfather Time, just to get started on a few such examples.  We give female names to ships and storms, male names to deities and monsters, and animal names to describe weather conditions and various aspects of life situations in general.  March roars in like a lion, but goes out like a lamb; birds of a feather flock together; meaner than a hornets nest; making a mountain out of a molehill; straw that broke the camels back; raining cats and dogs; a crocodile smile; messier than a pigs sty, a fly in the ointment; …and on and on.

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While rafters seek gnarly whitewater runs, surfers pursue gargantuan big wave rides, and mountaineer’s go through hell to reach heavenly peaks, the emotions and aspirations encountered along the way are most often described in anthropomorphic terms.  A hippo of a wave, sliding down the dragons spine, or seeking an eagles view atop the world, all help give animation to our humanly  pursuits. We use these things to enliven our adventures.

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It seems our kind has a natural tendency to humanize everything. Perhaps it stems from some sort of deep-seated need to want to dominate nature.  How we manipulate our environment is prima facia evidence for that observation.

Is it that we cannot think of some other non-human metaphoric analogy?

At minimum, we seem only to better understand things by how they relate to us in our human centered world, by the feelings that are invoked.  To care for something, it must have some ability to care back, otherwise what would be the point?  What value is there if that “other” doesn’t care what we do?  Hopefully that aspect of human nature to give feelings to those things that cannot feel might be an internal mechanism in our DNA for us to not destroy things in the natural world. Our survival as a species depends on taking care of the things that nourish and sustain us. It is all in our own hands.

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Ice Is Nice – Dendritic Fractals Anyone?

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There is no escape. Nature is everywhere. Even on a cold morning, its form can take shape on the window of your car. This time of year, which is also the beginning of a brand new one, (2014) nature expresses itself in the language of cold. Ice more specifically.  Interestingly the architecture of nature’s design, so eloquently translated as the real art for which  it is, is a marvelous sight to behold. How curious it is  that a sense of order can been seen in nature’s randomness. That is, each particular shape is different individually, but design wise, similar collectively. Self-replicating, fundamentally.

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When ice forms on panes of glass, it is sometimes refered to as window frost, fern frost, or ice flowers.  Some actually remind me of the symmetry seen of a large watershed when looked at from far above, like from an astronauts view point.  All the rivers branch like limbs on a tree and similar to patterns seen in the intricacy of a feather. This dendritic pattern is a central theme of nature in many formative processes, and is sometimes referred to as a fractal.  Such reoccurring  patterns, seen from near or far, are a visible form of math, in terms of how shape and scale materialize.  From bird feathers, geologic landscape formations, to ice crystals, nature has an orderly signature. Or at least, a very distinctive one, and easily recognized immediately for the hand that makes it.

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There are many types of snow and ice, all of which have certain characteristics common during the formation process. Snow crystals take the shape of a 6-sided dimension, similar to lava that also solidifies into columnar basalt matrix with the same number of  sides.  Yet, ice crystals take shape into a more dendritic fractal form.  Dendritic simply means a multi-branching tree like form, while fractal refers to a mathematical pattern that is common to much of the structure throughout nature. But why the different number of sides or patterns that give rise to each creation, and what mechanism causes them?  Hard to answer with variables stacked on top of variables that can affect the causation of such magnificent architecture.

Despite whatever explanation might describe why, the essence is Nature’s signature seems to indicate math as the main language for communicating the spirit of anything and everything that moves through nothing and all things.  While all this descriptive  ice nomenclature that provides us humans the words to communicate beauty in nature is fascinating, its formulation is still always a number’s game. But beyond that, a more pragmatic question –  why is ice slippery? I’m going to let that one slide by for now and go ice skating. Oars not needed.

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