Part of the problem many people encounter as they seek to change things, particularly to change human conduct in relation to other species on planet Earth, is the language currently used by "environmentalists".

New words, using old words in new ways, or a little editing here and there is necessary to articulate an inclusive vision. Take for example an oft' bandied about phrase:

THE ENVIRONMENT

What does the label mean exactly? An environment can be both small and large. Inside a terrarium is a micro-environment. Outside of a terrarium is another environment: a house. Outside of the house is a macro-environment.

I know that when people speak of "the environment" they often mean the Natural world or the natural environment or Mother Nature. At other times they are referring to the biosphere or some part of it: soil, water, air. However, use of the term generally indicates that the thus named area is apart from or an adjunct to human activity. Which implies that the human environment is somehow contained within a bigger environment — and while influenced by weather and the like — it is separate from the whole. Nothing could be further from the truth.

globe

Humans are many things, not the least of which is organic. We inhabit a big surface on planet Earth called by us the biosphere. So instead of using the term "the environment" why not say "the biosphere"?

The word "environment" is exclusive, meanwhile "biosphere" is inclusive.

While an environmentalist is someone usually concerned with a part of the picture, a biospherist would be someone concerned with the whole picture. Removing the us and them notion implicit in the former lends itself to more accurately perceiving the role of humans on this planet. (And, I haven't missed that all of us are already biospherists by virtue of being born.)

John Ralston Saul — in his book Voltaire's Bastards — observes that whoever frames the argument wins the argument. We see this played out all the time in town hall meetings and assemblies with bureaucrats and politicians seeking input from certain sectors. There is always a moderator and questions are always filtered.

It is incumbent on those who care about the Natural world to reframe human perception of the biosphere we share with other species.

Robert G. Mears

February 2012

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