Oh my god you killed nature

This research topic submitted by reeve+wagner (reeveta@miamiu.miamioh.edu) on 2/26/98.

Thomas Reeve
Margie Wagner
Chris Myers 11:00AM

“Oh my God! You killed nature!”
Humans’ Obsession With Conquering Nature

Thousands of years ago, humans made a decision that would alter their lifestyles
permanently. With the advent of agriculture the interaction between human beings and
nature took a 180 turn. Upon realizing that they could use the nature which surrounded
them to their benefit, they took control. Foresting practices became extremely common
and valuable to human beings. As humans continued to evolve, they began to conquer
something even more fragile; they began to attack their human nature as well. Since the
days when agriculture was a new idea, human beings have become more and more
obsessed with finding ways to take over the natural aspects of our world. As we study
this interesting phenomenon, we will focus on what we consider to be both positive and
negative examples of humans’ need for control.
Taking control is not the only reason that humans exploit nature. Nature is the
ultimate test of strength, endurance, and intelligence. It has been the driving force in the
evolution of humankind. As people have evolved they have mastered the elements,
which has led to the mind-set that nature is just an inconvenience (Kellert 1997).
In his book, The Future of Illusion , Freud states that,

It (human civilization) includes on the one hand all the knowledge and
capacity that men have acquired in order to control the forces of nature
and extract its wealth for the satisfaction of human needs, and, on the
other hand, all the regulations necessary in order to adjust the relations of
men to one another and especially the distribution of the available wealth.

This statement illustrates how important nature is to human civilization. It has always
been there challenging the human race. A good example of this is the expansion of the
Old West and the belief of manifest destiny. For years people ran to the west trying to
fill up the country. Land and gold rushes led the way for early pioneers. As towns
eventually grew, even more people were to follow. In 1845 John O’Sullivan coined the
phrase “manifest destiny” in a duet of essays on the annexation of Texas. This use of
religion and ethnocentrism pushed the people westward (Manifest Destiny Launch Page).
The wilderness was soon tamed and the time was left in history, but the knowledge still
remains in popular culture.
Kellert states that the popularity of outdoor activities is due to the fact that we are
no longer at the mercy of nature and its creatures. These creatures, mainly large animals
of prey, still plague our nightmares. Campers in Yellowstone fear death from a grizzly
bear even more than death in a car accident, even though the odds are 1 in 1.5 million
and 1 in 4600 respectively. This illustrates that nature is much more scary than
man-made devices (Kellert 1997).
Since the beginning of human being’s study of health and disease, allopathic
medicine has been the primary focus of attention. Throughout the past several decades,
some students of allopathic (traditional scientific) medicine have strayed from the path
on which they are encouraged to remain. Dr. Andrew Weil graduated from Harvard
Medical School in 1968 with no intention of continuing his allopathic studies. In his
book, Health and Healing, which was originally published fifteen years after the
completion of his formal education, he explains the reason for his change of interest.

First, I did not feel comfortable using the methods I had been taught
because by and large they were not methods I would want used on myself
if I were sick. second, I came to feel that most of the treatments I had
learned did not go to the root causes of disease but rather suppressed
disease or masked its expressions. I wanted to know how to help people
not get sick in the first place and how to promote real healing (Weil vii).

What Dr. Weil (and many others shortly after) began to realize was that the efforts of
human beings to suppress the natural state of things--in this case the possibility for
humans to get sick--were heading in the wrong direction. In order to elaborate on this
perception of traditional western medicine, we will present the results of research about
antibiotics. This will serve as the biological side of our study.
A great deal of study has focused on antibiotics. In an attempt to suppress the
sometimes negative side of the nature of human beings (the fact that nature can actually
make us sick) we used nature in our favor and created these powerful drugs. To the
surprise of allopathically-trained doctors such as Andrew Weil and Stuart B. Levy, our
self-centered attempts to conquer nature in order to improve our lives have backfired.
The problems we have caused are explained well by Levy in his book, The Antibiotic
Paradox. Levy tells us that:

While, to some extent, antibiotics have merited this appellation, [their
tendency to be referred to as “miracle drugs”] it paradoxically has caused
some dent in their armor. the seemingly endless miracles attributed to
these drugs have led to their misuse and overuse. Bacteria responded to
the widespread applications of antibiotics by finding ways to become
resistant, in other words, insensitive to the killing effects of these powerful
drugs (Levy vii).

It is clear that our attempts to control nature in our favor have led to some unexpected
and very negative consequences. Although we have utilized nature for some productive
and less harmful reasons, we seem to have gotten carried away. We will most likely
research either herbal medicine or the healing agents of food in order to propose a better
way in which nature could be used to our benefit.

In order to test our thesis, we will create a survey. Through the use of our
questions, we will attempt to determine whether or not our thesis is supported by the
Miami student body. We will distribute the survey to both our Western and main campus
class members, in an attempt to receive feedback from a variety of students. The
questions we will ask will include:
--Do you enjoy outdoor activities such as camping, climbing, hiking, etc?
--Are there woods near your property line?
--How often does your family build a fire in your fireplace?
--Has there been much development near your home? If so, how often do you see this
--Have you ever been prescribed antibiotics? If so, approximately how many times? Did
they seem to work? If they cured your illness, did you remain healthy?

In order to present the data we receive from our survey, we will most likely use
Statview to make bar graphs and charts.

Chetley, Andrew. Problem Drugs. London: Zed Books, 1995.
Freud, Sigmund. The Future of an Illusion. New York: W.W. Norton & Company,
Kellert, Stephen R. Kinship to Mastery. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1997.
Levy, Stuart B. M.D. The Antibiotic Paradox. New York: Plenum Press, 1992.
Manifest Destiny Launch Page http://members.aol.com/htmpro/toc.htm
Reid, Daniel P. The Tao of Health, Sex, and Longevity. New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1989.
Weil, Andrew M.D. Health and Healing. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1983.
Weil, Andrew M.D. Spontaneous Healing. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc, 1995.

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