Reconnecting To The Natural Systems

When the Dutch mission, the Herrnhuten, came to Labrador in 1771, the Eskimos lived in large family groups in houses of stone and turf. The rooms were small and warmed by lamps fuelled by blubber. One of the first things that the new settlers did was to introduce a new form of house. They built timber houses with large rooms heated by wood-fired iron stoves. This had a radical effect on the whole Eskimo society. They had earlier obtained fuel oil from seals by hunting. The meat provided food and the hides could be used for clothes and boats. The change of house made fetching wood a critical task. The forest was a long way away and the sleigh dogs needed to eat more meat, so seal hunting had to increase as well as wood gathering. The need for wood became so great during winter that it took longer time than all other tasks put together. Despite their efforts it became clear that the new timber houses could not give the same warmth and comfort as the original earth houses (Arne Martin Claussen).

This represents a kind of miniature of today's industrial thinking. Society devours virgin materials, consumes them in the production process, often with a very low level of recycling, and leaves the waste to nature. The industrial culture of a throughput economy is the antithesis of nature's diligence based on restricted resources. Nature's method is that of integration and optimization for the natural environment as a whole. Efficiency is based on the greatest variety of species where each has its own special place. There is a continuous interplay between all the different species.

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