Emma Marris: Nature is everywhere -- we just need to learn to see it
Emma Marris - Environmental writer
Emma Marris is a writer focusing on environmental science, policy and culture, with an approach that she paints as being "more interested in finding and describing solutions than delineating problems, and more interested in joy than despair." Full bio
that we are destroying nature
unfortunately also the case.
to define nature in a way
we're creating for ourselves,
left for our children
and their timber,
as all the wild mammals put together.
to the sand on ocean beaches.
with our artificial fertilizers.
the chemistry of the air.
42 percent more carbon dioxide
under this rubric of the "Anthropocene."
that some geologists are suggesting
human influence has been over it.
but I think it's a helpful way
of human influence on the planet.
where everything is influenced by humans?
Bill McKibben said
was a thing apart from man
was altered by man,
"The End of Nature."
I just disagree with this.
because, fundamentally, we are animals.
with which we share a planet,
and all the other microbes.
by humanity, man or woman.
is anywhere where life thrives,
multiple species together,
and thriving and filled with life
are certain parts of this nature
as kind of Edenic representations
we screwed everything up.
by our day to day activities.
have no roads or few roads,
are deeply influenced by humans.
North America, for example,
when people first came here,
of interacting with the nature
of a big slew of large-bodied animals,
to the giant ground sloth,
that unfortunately are no longer with us.
didn't stand still.
changed grasslands into forests,
from one tree to another.
of a past before humans,
at a humanized landscape.
but historical humans, indigenous people
when the first colonizers showed up.
for the other continents as well.
for a very long time.
I was just there.
sent me to Manú National Park,
uncleared, no roads,
biodiverse parks in the world.
what did I find, but people.
for hundreds and thousands of years.
just float over the jungle.
with the landscape.
to build their houses,
that we consider to be wild animals.
with the environment
and that you can see in the environment.
an anthropologist on this trip,
floating down the river,
no demographic voids in the Amazon."
is that the whole Amazon is like this.
tropical forests are the same,
ecosystems in the past,
to influence them in the present,
they're harder to notice.
that we might want to use
untouched by humanity
a result where we don't have any nature,
by the presence of multiple species,
there's nature all around us.
we see this Monarch caterpillar
plant species growing there,
a completely wild space.
right under our nose,
little paradox, too.
suburban agricultural existence
than a national park,
are very carefully managed
which is my closest national park,
that seems to be coming out of the past.
is white bark pine die-off.
is a beautiful, charismatic --
right now with disease.
that was introduced,
the park service has been planting
pine seedlings in the park,
otherwise managing as wilderness.
beetle repellent in key areas
much more common than you would think.
population size and structure.
is doing all of the things I just listed:
these places look untouched.
these places that we love the most
a little too hard, sometimes.
them to be stable
more fragile over time.
the absolute worst places
out in the middle of nowhere.
for five hours
is hunker down in one spot
just work with it,
build a fort, do something like that.
They're hard to visit.
only available to the elites,
did a survey of young people,
do you spend time outdoors?
spent time outdoors
were just staying inside.
what are the barriers to going outside,
This is just patently false.
of a city park.
are similar in other countries.
your back garden,
forgotten how to see it.
watching David Attenborough documentaries
that is literally right outside our door,
that's been abandoned.
of the High Line story in Manhattan,
developed this into a park yet,
sort of secret wilderness
in the chain-link fence,
completely wild meadow
the city of Philadelphia.
grew from a seed
to do sort of biosurveys,
plant species up there.
a functioning ecosystem.
It's sequestering carbon.
ecosystems like these "novel ecosystems,"
dominated by non-native species,
we've ever seen before.
all these novel ecosystems as trash.
regrown agricultural fields,
being managed on a day-to-day basis,
the entire East Coast,
the forest sprung up.
novel ecosystem, too.
and he did this experiment himself.
he had some grad students come,
a bio-blitz of his backyard,
on that future High Line of Philadelphia,
this abundance, this vibrance,
for a local school,
that counts as nature,
that wouldn't count as nature.
no other plants, no other animals.
throw a ladder over the side
into this cool meadow.
the choice that faces us.
as not acceptable or trashy or no good,
everything is changing,
about how we define nature.
from our children,
as that which is untouched.
for thousands of years.
that most people can visit
that children cannot touch.
that we have to do,
let children touch nature,
is untouched is unloved.
environmental challenges on this planet.
habitat loss is my favorite thing
in the middle of the night.
smart, dedicated people --
a generation of people
every conservation biologist I know,
that doesn't know how to build a fort,
know how to care about nature.
to be the one to tell this kid,
from poor neighborhoods
that the flower he's holding
that he should throw away as trash.
learn from this boy
where this plant comes from,
to be touched and appreciated.
About the speaker:Emma Marris - Environmental writer
Emma Marris is a writer focusing on environmental science, policy and culture, with an approach that she paints as being "more interested in finding and describing solutions than delineating problems, and more interested in joy than despair."
Why you should listen
Emma Marris has written among others for Nature, Discover and the New York Times. She challenges the notion that nature can only be preserved in its pristine, pre-human state, a too-narrow characterization "that thwarts bold new plans to save the environment and prevents us from having a fuller relationship with nature." Humans have changed the landscape they inhabit since prehistory, and climate change means even the remotest places now bear the fingerprints of humanity. In her book Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in the Post-Wild World, she argues that we need different strategies for saving nature and champions a blurring of the lines between nature and people for a responsible care of our humanized planet.
Emma Marris | Speaker | TED.com