Thursday, November 4, 2010

Land Management and Vampires

I got an email this week from a blog reader named John.  In addition to pointing out a ridiculously silly (and rather embarrassing) error I'd made, he shared with me a bit of news from the UK.  It seems that the current approach to land use planning there involves taking "ecosystem services" into consideration.  At the face of it, this sounds good. Recognizing the services provided to us every day by the natural world (such as oxygen from trees, waste breakdown by fungi, etc...)  is absolutely necessary. So what's not to love?

And where, you may ask, do vampires fit into all this?

Stay with me here. You may have heard the term "energy vampires."  If not, let me explain. An energy vampire is a person who just seems to suck the energy right out of you.  Their constant complaining, endless problems, bad moods, and general pessimism are exhausting to be around.  You know someone like that, right? Whenever you see them, you walk away from the visit feeling like you need a vacation!  You have to get away from them just to recuperate. People like this are psychologically draining to those around them. They extract what they need from you, then leave. A relationship with such a person tends to be very one-sided, with one person doing all the giving and the vampire doing all the taking.  Needless to say, such a relationship can become very dysfunctional.

The problem with the ecosystems services approach as it was explained to me is that instead of recognizing, supporting, and restoring the natural systems that provide us with so much,  the attitude is "how much can we take without absolutely collapsing the system?" It is extractive rather than restorative.  Such an attitude approaches Nature with the same dynamic as an energy vampire approaches a friend.  And the relationship is just as dysfunctional.

A healthier approach to relationships involves give and take. I know you. You know me.  I support you. You support me. We can rely on each other. Trust grows. Both of us are enriched by knowing the other.  Substitute Earth for you in those sentences. 

I've been Earth Pausing (see here  and here if you missed it)  for a couple weeks now, and as I do, I notice that an awareness of relationship is growing in my consciousness.  I know Earth. Earth knows me. We are interdependent. 

Let's leave the vampires to Hollywood, and cultivate a healthy relationship with Gaia instead. 

Photo Credit:  flickr user Jayt74 at 

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. Indeed, its sad that we've lost touch with that sense of reciprocity. Also sad that in places like Africa with its traditional cultures which (like most indigenous cultures) are sustainable by nature -taking only what you need and always giving back- these values have become eroded as so many of us aspire to western and modern ideals. It applies just as much to out relationship with people as it does to our relationship with the earth.