In a way, I suppose, one could see the whole journey of human history as a battle between mankind and nature; the caveman’s eternal struggle to get out of his cave, drive away the beasts, burn down the forest and turn it into a multistorey car park. On a purely partisan level, then, when I read yesterday that humankind had used up or otherwise destroyed almost two thirds of the Earth’s resources, I must confess that I felt a little thrill. Hmm, I thought. We’re winning.
Don’t get me wrong. On a theoretical level, at least, I am as ardent an environmentalist as anyone. I have written frequently, and not always flippantly, about the evils of climate change and the brazen ineffectiveness of Kyoto. I am a nature-lover. But nature has never loved me.
It has bitten me, scratched me, defecated on my car. It has turned short strolls into long walks, by means of unnecessary Highland mountains. When I slept in a hammock in the mangroves of the Andaman Islands, it was nature that saw fit to make those same mangroves a habitat for saltwater crocodiles. Nature has put a snake in my rucksack and a scorpion in my shoe. My love is unrequited. Bluntly, we don’t get along.