October 08, 2018

The Invention of Nature


Those of you interested in the idea of Paleo are familiar with the concept of interconnectedness in health.  What you eat isn’t all that counts. 

Exercise, sleep, time in nature, the strengths of your relationships, your mental state, and your creativity all contribute to how you feel and experience the world.

We take that interconnectedness as a given. Phrases like “you can’t outwork a bad diet”, and “happy husand/wife, happy life” all allude to the idea that health is a function of many things. 

If you examine that idea, you’ll realize that we take many of our ideas about interconnectedness straight from our understanding of nature. 

You may have heard the story of the color changing moths.  At first, these moths were a light color and blended in well with the light color bark on the trees they frequented.  As factories were built nearby and belched out dark smoke, the bark became darker from all the smoke particles landing on them, and the lighter moths were more easily seen by predators and eaten.  After some time and selective evolutionary pressure, the moths that evaded predators were darker, and eventually all moths became dark, so as to blend in with the darker bark on the trees.

This very simple connection, between the demand the factories fulfilled and the color of the moths, seems obvious, but it came from a scientist you’ve probably never heard of. 

Yes, I’m assuming you’ve heard of Charles Darwin.  Not him; Darwin was influenced by the fellow I’m talking about. 

In fact, this same scientist and explorer directly influenced the thoughts, writing, and art of Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, George Perkins Marsh, and Frederic Church among others.

The scientist credited with developing this holistic idea of Nature is the same one who first described the phenomenon of human induced climate change. 

A famous ocean current is named after him, along with a ferocious species of squid, a penguin, a skunk, numerous plants, an Amazon river dolphin subspecies, a bay and a famous county in Northern California, a dry lake bed in Nevada, and a glacier in Greenland.

I didn’t mention the universities, astronomical features (including a lunar sea and an asteroid), the national parks, cities, national forests, and schools.

What could he have done to deserve all this recognition, and how is it possible that despite it all, he remains a relatively unknown personality? 

His life is the subject of the book The Invention of Nature*, and I strongly encourage you to read about the extraordinary human Alexander von Humboldt.


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*Yes, that's an affiliate link.  Relax, if you buy the book through that link, Paleo Treats will make about $.02 and it won't cost you any extra. 

Nik Hawks


Nik Hawks helps run the show at Paleo Treats. Fascinated by humans in all their strange glory, Nik is harnessed in and pulling hard in pursuit of excellence with the rest of the PT Crew. Enjoy!

Too much reading...
How about dessert?

Too Much Reading...How About Dessert?

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