Return to Nature!

I am frequently amazed to find in older books (100+ years) the exact same concerns and issues than we are dealing with today. It is often possible to literally copy what was written back then and re-publish it. And no one would even suspect that an author from a long time ago wrote this.

One such book I am reading right now is Return to Nature! by Adolf Just. I am just into the introduction for now but it already seems to be an edifying read.

Adolf Just was German naturopath and the book is a translation into English from 1903. In the book he likes to quote a lot from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a well known German writer, whose writings are even much older, going back 200 years ago. Goethe lived from 1749 – 1832.

In the introduction Just quotes this from Goethe:

Man in his misguidance has powerfully interfered with nature. He has devastated the forests, and thereby even changed the atmospheric conditions and the climate. Some species of plants and animals have become entirely extinct through man, although they were essential in the economy of Nature. Everywhere the purity of the air is affected by smoke and the like, and the rivers are defiled. These and other things are serious encroachments upon Nature, which men nowadays entirely overlook but which are of the greatest importance, and at once show their evil effect not only upon plants but upon animals as well, the latter not having the endurance and power of resistance of man.


And this from Goethe’s famous poem, Faust:

Thy sense is shut, thy heart ids dead:

Disciple, up! untiring, hasten

To bathe thy breast in morning-red!

Goethe, “Faust”

Goethe was also a close friend of Alexander von Humboldt, the famous nature explorer of his time.

This was written about 200 years ago! It makes me wonder what the state of nature was back then? Was it worse than today? I can imagine that to be the case in Germany where many of the cut down forests of that time have been regrown. I read somewhere that the Black Forest had been cut down up to 80% in Goethe’s time.

And what would our air be like if everyone still heated their houses with coal and wood stoves? With today’s population we may only have a few months to live in that scenario.

Thanks to electronic media these old works are again becoming available to everyone to read and ponder. Let’s hope humanity will soon find a permanent solution to this old problem. With the current technological advances it should be possible, but we have to really want it to happen too.