Early on I developed two interests. One was foraging for wild plants. It assured me food where ever I went. The other was watching clouds, one of the few things you can do on your back….and in public On a 24-hour basis you can predict the weather just as well as the weather bureau, just by lying in a hammock and studying the sky. Those two interests enjoy the company of each other here in Florida.
Central Florida is the lightning capital of the United States and second in the world after Rwanda in Central Africa, which bests Florida by 2.5 times more strikes. Still, thunderstorms grow in a very predictable way here and one can watch their growth and their life cycle. Plants are the same way. When you are in your hammock all you have to do is look a little to the left or right to see a plant to study should the clouds blow away. But clouds and plants have one other thing in common: People ignore them.
As little as 70 years ago, or if you like round numbers, 100 years ago, most humans on the earth watched the sky and plants intensely for survival, food, shelter, advanced warning and contentment.
Until about World War II most people still lived an agrarian life. In the second half of the 1900s most people left the farm. And by 2000 most people had left the earth for the Internet. Like books, radio and television before it, the Internet has removed us even more from the world around us.
On one of my plant videos a fellow left a comment that seemed obtuse so I looked at his YouTube profile. In 15 months he had watched 19,400 videos. That’s an average of 46 videos a day. Even if that were the only Internet access he had that is an amazing amount of time on the Internet…. and if he owned a television…. well, you see my point.
Not too long ago I had to do some research and among the findings was those under 30 or so view the Internet as reality and life off the net as not reality. In a century we have gone from very attuned to the world around us to viewing it as not real. When one considers it is the world around us that keeps us alive it is quite a thing to ignore. Which brings me to the environmental movement. I’m not sure the environmental movement is … well… interested in the environment.
I started my videos and site because my environmentalist friends could barely tell apples from oranges, especially if the packaging was the same. Environmentalism has taken on a lot of politics and even militancy, such as burning down businesses. To me environmentalism is walking along a bike trail and seeing a 20-foot wide brown swath on each side, sprayed with an herbicide to keep the plants away from the trail. That’s quite brilliant: Build a trail though nature then kill nature around the trail.
To me environmentalism is personal not political. Can I eat that sow thistle or has the railroad company sprayed along here? (Active railways are, by the way, among the most toxic places to forage because most intentionally use extremely potent herbicides.) The environmentalism movement is very concerned about greenhouse gasses which may or may not be significant yet the greatest threat lies at our feet, the pollution of soil and water. Just as humans have drifted away from being attuned to the earth environmentalism has drifted away from the environment. Environmentalists tend to ignore the environment like police ignore traffic laws. I think we need to get back to the roots of things, pay more attention to the earth, and the sky. Air pollution and cloud watching don’t mix.