Stunning

Nature documentaries, like great nature photography, may be a mistake. Do they capture the awe and majesty and drama of the distant natural world? A little too well.

The result? You find a bit of woods or meadow near you and, what? And nothing. No lion bringing down a wildebeest. No bowerbird arranging exotic orchids to attract a mate. Not even a toucan selling fruitloops. Just some plants sitting there in their boringness. What we need is a way to see those common wild plants and their humble fauna as beautiful too. The way? As a complete ecosystem. Except that’s gone. And so we lose interest in even what we have. We then retreat to the HD, tightly edited versions of distant, exotic nature, even as those too are under assault.

If in fact the hope of saving the natural environment is not lost altogether already, I guess I’m inclined to think it may depend on some contact with a high-quality local version. Like the local food movement. Nearby, real, healthy. This is hard now. The idea of a real wilderness ecosystem near where people live has proved to be a near impossibility. The woods that were there behind your house when you moved into that new subdivision were there only long enough to sell the houses. Then the trees were chopped down for another subdivision. Maybe they left a little patch as a buffer along the highway. The beautiful stream you’d love to walk along is now all private property on both sides. The little stretch of it that runs through the public park has been scoured and blasted by street-drain storm run-off. The fauna that ought to go with these environments are gone or wildly out of balance.

A lot of this is fixable, like a lot of everything is fixable. But we have run out of belief in fixing things. And ecosystems are way down on the priority list. It’s all commerce and consumption now. Let’s fix that.

Tom Toles is the editorial cartoonist for The Post and writes the Tom Toles blog. See all of his cartoons here.

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