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Mother Nature’s playbook a way out of our mess

sheelagh matthews
Sheelagh Matthews/Best Interest

“There’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!” This line from the classic movies of Laurel and Hardy, or maybe you’d know them better as Stan and Ollie, always got the laughs. It has been on my mind lately.

Because that’s exactly how I feel about climate change. It’s quite a mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. Which brings me to ask: Now what?

In answer to this, a dear friend of mine suggested we plant flowers. It’s an attractive solution to consider, no doubt about it. But an effective one? It sounds way too simple. Still, could there be more wisdom in her words than first appears?

After all, Mother Nature has a way of getting things done that we humans have trouble comprehending. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. It is too critical a time to not do everything we possibly can to better our situation on this planet. Besides, it never hurts to mimic a master. Mother Nature has many ways to heal herself. She evolves as she needs to, she competes when she has to, and she reproduces—sometimes in very clever ways—to maintain the circle of life. As much as she sounds like a superhero with mysterious superpowers, it’s important to remember that Mother Nature can only take so much pressure before she’ll crack and crumble away. Sadly, mankind has put way too much pressure on her for far too long. Despite her best efforts at amazing comebacks, Mother Nature is now at a tipping point, if not already beyond, with her acidifying oceans and melting sea ice.

What can we do to help Mother Nature survive this difficult time? We can take a closer look at how she works, and then look at how we, as humankind, do things. In other words, compare and contrast Mother Nature’s way of getting things done, and her version of success, to ours.

For instance, Mother Nature works in cycles of growth and decay, where everything that decays goes back into the natural cycle to support new growth. Leaves on trees develop in their growing season, then fall to the ground, becoming food and shelter for resident flora and fauna.

As for humans, we tend to think of growth in linear terms, where bigger, faster, and more are the signals of success. This straight-line growth tends to produce non-useful, and often harmful, waste products as an afterthought of success. An example of this is all the plastic pollution we are awash in right now.  Mother Nature tends to work in webs of connections, where making one small change here could affect something completely different over there. This is a way to optimize and bring about a complex balance to the natural world.

If optimization, or wanting the best result, is Mother Nature’s sign of success, then maximization, or wanting the most, is ours. Humans tend to look at success through the lens of winner takes all. We grow, we take, we consume, and we mostly don’t give much value back to our natural world. With maximization our goal, it’s no wonder we’re in the mess we’re in.  What if we could help turn climate change around by choosing to seek “optimization” instead of “maximization?” And wouldn’t it be a laugh if it could all start with the simple act of planting flowers? Taking our lead from Mother Nature’s playbook to lessen our climate change crisis—now that’s in our best interest. For more in your best interest, follow Sheelagh @sheesays or visit