Over the weekend, I tried to get a head start on my spring cleaning by starting in winter (maybe overcompensating  a bit) and found all of my old camping and backpacking gear.

Needless to say, I didn’t get as much sorting done as I did reminiscing on the “good ol’ days” of travelling the world and going into the wilderness. Oh, the wilderness. I miss it. I miss it a lot.

I recall an article I read from New Scientist magazine that talked about “the myth of the wild” (by Emma Marris). It led me to sit and reflect for a bit longer and ponder on how we as a species have directly changed the planet. What really is wilderness now? Have we tamed most of the planet? Some of the notable statements from the article, which I jotted down, are the following:

  • 50% - portion of Earth’s land actively used by humans for our own ends
  • 2kms/year – the rate at which insects on the British mainland are spreading north because of global warming
  • 50% - the proportion of plants and animals whose range has shifted due to climate change
  • Human leftovers mean that white storks in Spain no longer need to migrate.
  • In New Zealand, house sparrows have mastered automatic sliding doors, triggering the mechanism to get into lunchrooms and cafes.
  • Controlled burning has created many landscapes that we consider natural.

I don’t think you need to have experienced true wilderness to know that we need it. Maybe at the very least, we just need to know that it exists. That there is still wilderness out there. Maybe that’s just me, but I don’t need to have been to the remote places of the Earth to know that even if I were to never venture outside city environments again, I would love to know that there are still areas in this world that wild and largely untouched by people. Why? Maybe it’s the desire to be in awe; in awe of something that we humans did not create ourselves. Maybe it’s the romantic and mysterious notion of the natural world, of something, someplace not quite easily reached. I think it’s a wonderful thing to know that there is some unchartered place and that it’s okay to let it be as it is; to let it exist just as it is, without having to benefit from it.

Tagged in What messes with your head, reflection, environment