Nature: the natural physical world including plants and animals and landscapes etc., or the complex of emotional and intellectual attributes which determine a person's characteristic actions and reactions, or a causal agent creating and controlling things in the universe...
No matter what connotation one decides to take of the word, one cannot escape the fact that we are gradually alienating ourselves from nature.
There were days when we, children as well as adults, used to love and appreciate nature. Today, nature seems to be evaporating fast, making way for mechanical or technological marvels and synthetic substitutes.
As a kid I loved swinging from the supporting roots of the Banyan tree - broad, cool, dark, and shady. The banyan is like a boarding house: it attracts a large number of visitors - birds, squirrels, insects, and flying foxes; many of these interesting creatures actually live in the tree, which is full of dark, private corners suitable for a variety of tenants. One can climb on to its branches without difficulty and without danger of falling off. Reading a book without any disturbances leaning against its broad trunk used to be true joy.
It is a known fact that most plants largely take in Carbon Dioxide and release Oxygen during the day (photosynthesis), and take in Oxygen and release Carbon Dioxide during the night (respiration). But some plants such as the Peepal tree (Ficus Religiosa, called Ashvattha in Sanskrit) can uptake Carbon Dioxide and release Oxygen during the night as well, because of their ability to perform a type of photosynthesis called Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM). The Peepal is used extensively in Ayurveda. Its bark yields the tannin used in treating leather. Its leaves, when heated in ghee, are applied to cure wounds.
A friend of mine dearly misses those Painted Storks, Grey Herons and the occasional Spot-billed Pelicans that used to nest in his village on the Peepal, Babul (Acacia Nilotica), and Imli (Tamarindus Indica) trees from January till the end of the monsoons to feed, breed and prepare the young ones for the long journey across continents.
Today we have taken complete liberties and replaced the wonderful nature of our physical world with our filth. Dense forests and wooded areas have been cropped to make way for our concrete jungles, thus driving away, and conceivably exterminating the natural denizens who had survived the path of evolution. Fresh air has been replaced with our exhaust fumes, and plastic flowers have won over our beautiful natural gardens.
We have begun to experience the worst of our man-made world, be it the synthetic fruits and vegetables; the chemically beefed up meat; the contamination; the incessant din... Exactly what is it that gives us the nerve to imagine ourselves powerful enough to overthrow nature? Will we ever realize that damage to nature actually signifies the beginning of the end for our race? Will we ever be able to return to our roots? Or will we eliminate our own chances of survival?
Do we even care?