By Caroline Mannaerts
Nature in its fullest, most vibrant and healthy form is full of cycles that continuously and organically expand and build upon themselves into macroscopic or microscopic mirror versions of the primal cycle of life itself. The task of human beings is to help nature complete these cycles so that She may continue to nourish and embrace the many cycles of life, including the cycle of our own human lives and those of the plants, animals, oceans and trees around us. For when any of these cycles is severed or diminished, ALL life suffers, and indeed if enough of these cycles are disrupted, life in any except the most extreme forms may become impossible on this planet. As members of the human species, we play a key role in the completion of nature’s cycles. We occupy the key link between plants and animals, land and ocean, nature and civilization, earth and the cosmos. The actions we take in our everyday lives determine whether these cycles will regain their health and vibrancy or continue to decline towards the unknown. The cessation of cycles is synonymous with stagnancy. Any system that is stagnant is no longer viable. We need the constant change and flux between heat and cold, pain and pleasure, plentiful and scarce, life and death to know that we are alive.
Cycles in nature exist whether we choose to be aware of them or not. Awareness is the first step. The next step is how we choose to work with those cycles, or to our great detriment, ignore them or work against them. An example of a cycle that exists in nature is the rise and fall of the tides, which corresponds, of course, to the cycles of the moon. If we choose to ignore this natural cycle and build housing developments in marshlands, displacing wildlife and killing all the natural vegetation endemic to the area which normally helps to absorb the influx of water during high tides, the result will be disastrous for all involved. During a full moon convergence of intense storms and high tides, the result will be the flooding and destruction of human infrastructure. If, instead, we carefully observe this cycle in nature and notice how the marshlands absorb the influx of water during high tides and provide a natural habitat for a diverse species of aquatic life, birds, animals, plants and trees and allow these areas to remain protected marshland, we will not only protect ourselves from flooding and storm damage, but we will preserve the health of the marshlands and all of its plant and animal occupants. This is the power of observation and working with the cycles of nature.
In other cases, we may harness the power of cycles in nature to enhance our lives. Simple examples include harnessing the power of the sun, wind or even of ocean waves for alternative forms of energy. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management reports “while ocean currents move slowly relative to typical wind speeds, they carry a great deal of energy because of the density of water. Water is more than 800 times denser than air. So for the same surface area, water moving 12 miles per hour exerts the same amount of force as a constant 110 mph wind.” While numerous concerns are still being addressed and the technology needs further development, harnessing nature’s cyclical power of waves has the potential for enhancing our lives in a way that does not poison the environment or harm marine life, if done mindfully.
The study of permaculture advocates the “stacking of functions and transforming waste into resources”, thereby not simply harnessing the cycles of nature for one time uses, but also compounding them for the maximum possible energy output. For example, if you collect the rainwater falling from your roof and use it to water your garden or to wash your car, not only are you preventing a precious resource from going down the drain and into the sewer system, but you are also using this “waste water” as a resource. A formula can be used to calculate the amount of water that is being collected from any given roof. (Here is a good resource: http://rainwaterharvesting.tamu.edu/catchment-area/). If you want to get even fancier, you can channel that water into a gravity flow drip line system that will water your garden automatically without you even having to lift a finger! If you would like to maximize the use of the ‘water energy’ in your yard further, you might consider creating a rain garden and an overflow pond to catch the excess rainwater in the case of a significant rain event. A variety of water loving vegetation and amphibious creatures can adorn your rain garden and you will have added to the biodiversity in the local region of your backyard (or front or side yard for that matter).
The possibility of working with the cycles of natures is an endless upward spiral. If we choose to ignore, or work against the cycles of nature, we will soon find ourselves living in a world that is no longer habitable for human life. Of course, nature will in the end, take care of Herself and rebuild healthy cycles to promote the equilibrium of Her systems as a planet, but do we really want to take that chance of undoing years of evolution simply because we view ourselves as above and beyond the cycles of nature? The possibilities for co-creating a paradise by maximizing the energy outputs of the natural cycles that already exist on this earth are boundless, literally fruitful and frankly require a lot innovation, creative thinking and community involvement. Why would we choose anything except to support and complete those pre-existing natural cycles that nourish and enhance our lives as well as those of our animal, tree and plant companions and the well being of the land and environment? If we wish to continue to thrive upon this earth, nature needs our help to complete and build upon her inherently healthy cycles. To do otherwise is to compromise our very existence upon this earth.
You can see more of Caroline’s art on her etsy shop and blog, linked below: