The intersection of man and nature, where the dirt becomes walls and the cables become vines.

November 29th, 2013, 9am

There’s something poetic in the way human cities resemble anthills, tangles of cables look like tangles of vines, and mighty 747s could easily be mistaken for birds, from a distance.

Just as an atom scaled up looks very much like a solar system, some metamaterials known for their durability are just scaled down beehives. The Golden Ratio is pervasive in botany and sculpture. Some colors spark warning flares and some make us feel comfortable or hungry, no matter if those colors are dappled along the flank of a leopard or stippling the interiors of a chain of bakeries.

I’ve never understood the claim that anything can be ‘unnatural.’ The usual target for this moniker is something man-made, but everything we make — everything we do and perceive and enjoy and fear — stems from nature. WE are natural, and therefore what we create is natural, as well.

You don’t see a stick, stripped by a chimp and used to gather termites from their mound, and complain about how technology is a pox upon the environment. You don’t look at that termite mound — as complex and gorgeous a structure as anything made by mankind — and worry over how urbanization is ruining society.

Everything we do is natural. The good and the bad, the destructive and preservative. We have the ability to see context that other animals and creatures can’t, sure, but to claim ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in such matters seems silly.

It’s more accurate to see things as different acts of nature, resulting in different natural states. Some things we do are the actions of ecosystems rich with diversity, while others are like lightning striking a forest, burning everything to ashes in preparation for something new. Or a volcano erupting, killing off all life (as we know it) and cleansing the ecopalette for some novel kind of (also natural) experience.

We have choice in the matter, of course, but I find it’s better — and usually more productive, if you want to sway things one way or the other — to make arguments that use the most exacting terminology possible, and by defining said problems in the proper context.

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Colin Wright

Author, entrepreneur, and full-time traveler / I move to a new country every four months based on the votes of my readers / My work ( / My blog ( / My publishing company (

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