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What is Next Nature?

With our attempts to cultivate nature, humankind causes the rising of a next nature, which is wild and unpredictable as ever. Wild systems, genetic surprises, autonomous machinery and splendidly beautiful black flowers. Nature changes along with us.

The Majestic Plastic Bag

Behold the heroic journey of one of the most illustrious creatures on our planet.

Created by the good people of Healthebay.org.

Discussion

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  1. Hi Koert,

    Just wondering… what are your thoughts regarding how this plastic bag relates to nature: can a plastic bag become a part of nature?

    (I prefer to see any type of garbadge that interacts with nature as an aspect of the ‘footprint’ of human kind)

    PS. I also would like to invite you to develop (& share) some thoughts regarding how this ‘next nature life’ of a plastic bag could relate to the concept of INTENTIONALITY – which was introduced by Bas Haring in his exploring essay ‘Next Nature Services’:
    http://www.nextnature.net/2011/09/next-nature-services/

  2. @martijn: thanks for the invitation. I have read the discussion, but did not yet find the time for a proper response. In short: the whole next nature project is an exploration of the view that we must consider nature as a dynamic force that changes along with us. Hence what was once culture can at a certain moment become nature. This is our premise. As a result there is no objective universal distinction between nature & culture, it is context and observer dependent.

    Regarding plastics, no lets take this more general, lets talk about oil: From our human perspective, oil is a natural material, however, it is also the waste of plants that died some million years ago. It only took a very long time for us humans to evolve and put that plant waste to use. Point taken: waste can be natural. Now back to plastics. Perhaps a million years from now, microbes will have evolved that thrive on the plastics so irresponsibly brought in the ecosystem by mankind today. For that microbe plastic will be an vital element in its ‘natural’ surroundings. Lesson learned: cultural artifacts may be naturalized. The argument of the next nature vision is that this happens in various times and places. So, yes, I do believe a plastic bag can become part of nature. See also my plastic planet essay that explores this notion and its moral implications in more detail:
    http://www.nextnature.net/2011/02/plastic-planet/

  3. KOERT WROTE: “… Regarding plastics, no lets take this more general, lets talk about oil: From our human perspective, oil is a natural material, however, it is also the waste of plants that died some million years ago. It only took a very long time for us humans to evolve and put that plant waste to use. Point taken: waste can be natural.”

    Hi Koert, thanks for sharing your thoughts. But sorry… I observe that your waste-example includes some (out of context) ‘rethorics’.

    Because… basically, crude oil (in the ground) is a natural-product: it concerns the end-product of a NATURAL PROCES => while plastic is the end-procuct of HUMAN PROCESSING.

    So, I think your use of the word ‘waste’ goes out of context regarding the plastic-example, because plastic is product created by human action: it’s the end product of a human induced chemical proces.

    (Formally, crude oil in the ground should not be described as ‘waste’ nor ‘natural trash’, because for example the word ‘natural trash’ refers to trash resulting from human use of natural products – but any natural product can not be considered as a part of nature, etc.)

    Nevertheless, of course, the word ‘waste’ is a synonym for the word ‘trash’ (used by Bas)… however, crude oil (in the ground) is never described as ‘natural-trash’, because this would implicate a contradictive way to describe it. For, nature evolves in purposeful cycles which do not end as ‘trash’.

    SUMMARIZED:

    Plastic = ‘trash’, because it concerns unnatural material (that usually has lost it’s value when it becomes mixed with nature).

    Oil = a ‘natural product’, it can not be described as true ‘garbage’ (especially not when found in the ground).

    So, at the end I would say that oil can only become ‘garbage’ AFTER human intervention.

    :-)

    PS. Still interested to hear you thoughts about ‘plastic’…!