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Saving the Flora and Fauna

KatarinaKF's picture

Saving Flora and Fauna

Sitting in a coffee shop in the bustling city of Philadelphia makes one look outside and watch the world pass by. One sees rivers of cars, the overpowering skyscrapers, and watching hundreds of people walk along the sidewalks. It seems as though in this ecosystem, human-made materials overpower the flora and fauna of the area. It’s as if humanity is separated from nature, from the environment. In Alaimo’s essay “Porous Bodies and Trans-Corporeality”, she states that “It makes it difficult to pose nature as a mere background…for the exploits of the human since “nature” is always as close as one’s own skin” (5). But is nature truly part of us when humans continue to destroy and build over the land that we once admired so much? By ending our harmful ways and affirming love and respect for nature, humanity will become closer to stopping ecocide and saving the planet.

            “…it is said that 90% of the cells that compose our bodies are not “ours” at all, but are in fact composed of microorganisms. We could not live without this biological flora that composes us” (Alaimo 1). Jonathan Weiner in “Human Cells Make up Only Half of our Bodies” affirms that “Human cells and microbial cells are incredibly interdependent, because we have evolved together” (3). Our flesh and blood are composed of this microorganisms found in nature, so are we not one with nature? These invisible organisms have lived and died with humanity. “This is the world you live in. This is the skin you live in. Make yourself at home” (Weiner 4). If humanity continues to destroy the environment, the microorganisms will not be able to survive. Thus, how will humanity survive?

            “Bodies like a city, for example, need all sorts of flows passing through them to continue existing” (Alaimo 2). The structures and populous areas humanity has constructed are porous bodies. “They draw matter-energy from the world about them and release it into the world” (2). Human – populated areas can be compared to other organism’s ecosystems, for example, the rainforest. There are thousands of creatures habiting this area. They dedicate their energy to collect branches to construct a home or to chase after their next meal. This cycle continues to rotate each day and without this way of life for these organisms, their ecosystem would fall apart. Unfortunately, it is falling apart due to excessive human interference and deforestation. The thousands of trees cannot provide oxygen for organisms if they are being used for furniture and paper. Humanity has lived off the land for millions of years. Now we come to a point in our history where we are using too much of our land to the point where our actions are irreversible.

            “The material that passes through a body also transforms that body” (3). Alaimo uses this section of her essay to discuss food passing through a person’s body and “leaving a trace of itself, and either enhancing or diminishing that bodies power of acting” (3). Does the food that we consume make us who we are? All of our food comes from nature. And there are essential vitamins and minerals that we gain from eating specific foods. Since the beginning of humanity, we have lived off of the land. Eating plants and animals have been essential to our survival. We have been omnivores for thousands of years.

It has brought to light that in current culture, it has become popular for some people to not eat certain foods, specifically animal products (meat or any foods that contain other animals). There are many reasons why vegans and vegetarians choose not to eat meat. It may be because of the awful and horrible practices that animals are put through to give up their bodies for our gain. It may be because the food industry “contributes to rising greenhouse gases, the clearing of forests, for grazing (especially rainforests), shipping from point A to point B” (5). Those are valuable reasons why people should stop eating meat but what about the vitamins and proteins those organisms contain? Sure, you can replace protein with beans or other plant products but it just isn’t the same way to receive the nutrients needed for our survival.

In Ursula LeGuin’s science fiction story, “Vaster than Empires, and More Slow”, scientists land on a foreign planet and begin conducting research and find out that the vegetation has emotions. Now what if plants on Earth had emotions? It would be difficult to consume them because humans might feel guilty about eating them, like humans feel guilty about eating animals. They wouldn’t be given a choice to live. Then what would humans eat in the end? It would be impossible to survive without consuming these organisms on the planet. It comes down to our being interdependent on the other life forms for our survival. Is it better to stop eating essential nutrients needed for the survival of humanity or completely change our eating practices to save the planet? Our dependence on our planet will make it hard for humans to walk away from their current lives.

            “…we are constituted by the world around us” (5). The souls and beings on this planet would cease to exist without the creation of planet Earth. Our selfishness has consumed the planet to the point where our environments are being destroyed right before our eyes. Humanity will not know what Earth’s environment had looked like millions of years ago due to our excessive interference. We truly have to live off the land to survive. But there must be a way in which we can live by coexisting with the other organisms peacefully. Sri Chinmoy once said, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace”. Our love for the planet is the most important aspect in stopping global warming. When will the time come when love does overcome power and greed in order to save the planet?



Larval Subjects (Levi R. Bryant), "Stacy Alaimo: Porous Bodies and Trans-Corporeality" (May 24, 2012).

Jonathan Weineraug, "Human Cells Make Up Only Half Our Bodies. A New Book Explains Why." New York Times, August 15, 2016.


Latour, Bruno.  "Agency at the Time of the Anthropocene." New Literary History 45, 1 (Winter 2014): 1-18.


LeGuin, Ursula. "Vaster than Empires, and More Slow." The Wind's Twelve Quarters: Short Stories.  New York: Harper and Row, 1975. 148-178.



Anne Dalke's picture

You give an overview here of a number of the texts we’ve read, but really don’t develop a tight argument. You open by saying that “ending our harmful ways and affirming love and respect for nature” will bring us “closer to stopping ecocide and saving the planet"--but then end with much more uncertainty: “there must be a way in which we can live by coexisting with the other organisms peacefully…When will the time come…to save the planet?”

If you want to re-write this paper for your final project, I’d suggest really digging into some small portion of it. I know (because they reported this to me!) that several of your classmates were really struck (and bothered!) by your asking in class, as you ask again in this paper, “what if plants on Earth had emotions? It would be difficult to consume them because humans might feel guilty about eating them…” If you wanted to try to really think through this question, you could find a jumpstart on a number of websites:,,-83446,00.html

You might skim through these, pick 2 or 3 that really seem to speak to your questions, read them more carefully, and then write a paper that reports on what you’ve read, and what you are thinking now about the question you raised.

When you get around to taking another course with me (!), maybe it will be Ecological Imaginings, where we always read J.M. Coatzee’s The Lives of Animals (which is about animal rights); you’ve now got me thinking that we need to read more about plant cognition as well!

Til then,