The “Disneyfication” of Nature
The “Disneyfication” of nature is something that has recently begun to grate on my nerves. On Great Barrier Island it rears it’s head with sentences such as,”Great Barrier Island is a place of unspoiled beaches and vast tracts of native forest northeast of Auckland. Great Barrier Island’s rugged, untouched beauty is hard to find elsewhere.” and people using the word natural a lot and complaining that we somehow have interfered with the natural environment. This is, by and large, bullshit.
Great Barrier Island is a beautiful and wonderful place but its beaches are not unspoiled if you take unspoiled to mean what they were like before human occupation. Pre-human beaches were probably mounded with driftwood. Look here for an example from Fiordland. I hardly think that Medlands, Kaitoke, or Whangapoua fit this description. We have logged and cleared and burnt the forests and as a result we have beaches relatively unspoilt by mounds of driftwood. Perhaps that is what is meant.
Untouched beauty falls in to the same category. The Island has not just been touched, it has been torched. I have heard there was a time not to long ago when the sea would turn brown for a kilometre around the Island when it rained as the top soil washed out because there was little vegetation to keep it in place. The Island is anything but untouched. What we have now is a direct result of human interference.
The use of the word natural. Arghhhhh! The word natural in this case means,”existing in or derived from nature; not made or caused by humankind.” which is bullshit. Humans are natural, cities are natural, Ebola is natural. Somehow defining nature as being without humanity is stupid as the act of defining it as such requires a human. We are a part of nature, we just happen to be a part that can choose what we want in the world around it and that choosing is natural. In my lifetime I have seen New Zealand go from a country that felled it’s forests for farmland and houses to one that pseudo pretends to value them. And I say pseudo because in almost all circumstances we value them now because we receive a benefit of some kind even if it is just a feel good benefit. Tourist operators bandy the word natural about constantly, even though bringing tourists to a ‘natural’ environment will change that environment further. Each year the Island gets overrun by thousands of people who happily crap all over it, bring vast amounts of rubbish, and annihilate large amounts of aquatic life. Whilst this is all perfectly natural, it isn’t the vision of the world they wish to raise in our heads when they speak of it, or show to us in images and video. They are selling a dream.
Today I went to a Pest Management meeting and there were some good ideas. I especially liked Brads feral cat eradication plan. But there was also more than a hint of all of the above, that somehow in managing the pests we would be restoring the natural balance. Things are already in balance. The rats are part of nature, the cats are part of nature. They have reached a balance. Unfortunately that balance has come at the expense of other ‘native’ plants and animals. That is evolution. That is nature. I wish we could stop trying to ‘Disneyfy’ things and just admit that now, because we value these creatures over those (eg; one is called pest and the other native), we want to change the natural balance to change the current outcomes. I am fine with killing the rats, I don’t like rats and I do like native flora and fauna. I do not want it dressed up as ‘100% Pure’, or restoring the balance. If we are to murder thousands of thinking feeling animals for our perceived emotional or financial benefit, let’s at least do it knowingly.