Dec 12 2012

The Fragile Web of Life

Last Thursday Rob and I took a guided tour of a swamp trail at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in southern Florida.  Since this is a habitat I hardly know at all I learned a lot from the naturalist leading the tour.  One of the things he kept stressing is how in nature everything is connected.   This made me think of a couple of my favorite quotations concerning nature.  Long ago Chief Seattle said, “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”  John Muir spoke similar words when he said, “When we try to pick anything out by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

The naturalist leading our tour emphasized the impact flora and fauna have on one another.  He also talked about the impact of humans on the earth.  Everything we do impacts our world one way or another.  In southern Florida this is evidenced in what has happened to the Everglades.  Development and a number of poor decisions over the decades have greatly threatened the survival of this unique habitat.  This is tragic for a number of reasons.  One reason, just alluded to, is that the Everglades are unique.  Marjory Stoneman Douglas, who fought valiantly to protect this region, noted that “There are no other Everglades in the world.”  If what exists in southern Florida disappears this will be the end of a beautiful and special ecosystem.

Another reason the loss of the Everglades would be tragic is the wondrous diversity of life that exists there.  The Everglades serve as the home for countless birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals.  It also serves as host to magnificent flowers, ferns and trees.  Humans have severely altered the flow of water that has sustained the Everglades for eons.  Much habitat has already been lost and more is threatened.  This will affect every living creature and thing in the region.

Still yet another reason the loss of the Everglades would be tragic is spiritual in nature.  This portion of North America, like the rest of the planet, is God’s Creation.  As I have noted numerous times on this blog, God makes Himself known through His Creation.  If we lose unique habitats like the Everglades we actually lose opportunities or means of learning about God that we will not find anywhere else.

I am an environmentalist not just because I care about the well-being of the planet and its inhabitants.  I am an environmentalist because I am a Christian who understands that God cares for this planet and uses His Creation to teach us about Himself.  If we do not protect what God has made it will be like removing books from the Bible and never being able to read them again.

In the web of life humans are affected by the rest of the natural world.  We must never forget that everything we do, likewise, affects everything else—even God’s ability to make Himself known to us.  If that isn’t incentive enough to take Creation Care seriously, I don’t know what is.

–Chuck