Nature and Spirituality

Question: How does nature fit into a good life?

Carl Pope: I wouldn’t advise you to try living without it. You wouldn’t last very long. The fact is the services that make the planet habitable are provided for us by several million species all making their own living in their own way. The difference . . . There’s actually . . . Somebody this weekend was saying . . . I can’t remember who it was now. But the Earth and Venus in many ways are very similar. They’re about the same size. They each have about the same amount of carbon in their planetary system. Big difference is on earth most of the carbon is sequestered underground, and the temperature is about 59 degrees Fahrenheit. In Venus all of the carbon is out in the atmosphere, and the temperature is about 850 degrees Fahrenheit. Primates . . . People, even chimpanzees cannot sequester a single ounce of carbon dioxide in their lives. The only thing that can is little animals like the ones in the ocean; grasses; plants. We are absolutely dependent . . . Every time we burn fossil fuel, the only reason most of it gets sequestered is that living creatures provide these services for us. So we are a part – and we’re by and large and not a contributory part – of this incredible planetary balance wheel that works together to make Earth not Venus. So nature is incredibly important. It also happens to be incredibly beautiful, but I think we get confused. It’s not important because it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful because it’s important. The reason we like it is because in an evolutionary sense it’s what keeps us alive. We are hard wired to respect and love our parents because they keep us alive. And we are hard wired to respect and love nature because nature keeps us alive.


Recorded on: September 27, 2007.




You would't last long without nature, says Pope.

Big Think Edge
  • The meaning of the word 'confidence' seems obvious. But it's not the same as self-esteem.
  • Confidence isn't just a feeling on your inside. It comes from taking action in the world.
  • Join Big Think Edge today and learn how to achieve more confidence when and where it really matters.

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less
Big Think Edge
  • Economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett breaks down what qualities will inspire others to believe in you.
  • Here's how 300 leaders and 4,000 mid-level managers described someone with executive presence.
  • Get more deep insights like these to power your career forward. Join Big Think Edge.