A hard rain comes quickly The bell of the city On the hill is rung The shepherd cries The hour of choosing has arrived – Al Gore Every living thing depends on Nature, suckles its resources and gets benefit from the ecosystem it offers. However, humans have developed a disproportionate greed for natural resources, disrupting the delicate balance not only among various environmental forces but also among diverse social entities. No other species has the tendency or ability to grab and hold Nature’s produce beyond their immediate survival needs and pose lethal risks to life on the only known habitable planet in the entire universe. Nature regards ‘balance’ as its prime prerogative, which it jealously guards against interventions from anywhere. As human interventions have become massive in scale in the last half a century, so has the balancing act in the form of extreme events and disasters. Unfortunately, these interventions still go unabated because of the economic pressures of an increasing population and exponential technological advancement, giving birth to Anthropocene – a catastrophic era that may potentially render many species extinct including Homo sapiens. According to most estimates and prophesies, we have a very short time at our disposal to avoid Anthropocene, which may be less than a hundred years as per Stephen Hawking – the renowned physicist. A research article published in Nature in June 2017 has dragged the timeline as close as 2020, only three years from now. To avert the potential climatic disaster is definitely possible as there has been an exponential growth of scientific knowledge and technological advancement in recent times. The greatest barrier, however, is varying level of eagerness among nation states to act for the common cause depending upon their growth needs, vulnerability to climate change and the place of Nature in their cultures. In addition, there is a great diversity in the risk perception of different countries as the scale and speed of the climate change is too fast and fantastic. According to Hanna E. Morris of Annenberg School of Communication, the present day mediums of communication are unable to depict the true nature and impacts of the climate risks except when they switch to science fiction. This results in variation in risk perception, preparedness and action across the globe. To avoid a climatic catastrophe, we need to start living with Nature as all the other species do instead of attempting to subdue it. Whether in lifestyles or in consumption habits, we need to be organic with Nature as much as possible. Indeed, we need to borrow the Nature’s cardinal principle of ‘balance’ to run our economy and society. For example, we need to attribute balanced roles to males and females in society to achieve the goal of shared prosperity by all. Similarly, we have to achieve balanced birth and death rates through robust health sector policies and programs and reduce stress on natural resources and physical infrastructure. Moreover, we must develop inclusive cities with a carefully drawn balance between built environment and open spaces, between the rich and poor neighborhoods and between pedestrians and vehicles. The conflicting demands of modern day life may have constrained us in developing a traditional relationship with nature By respecting the Nature’s demand to maintain balance, we are enlightened with ‘Creativity’ – the most cherished reward that Nature infuses into anyone who lives in consonance with it. Nature has been lavishly showering this ‘manna’ since time immemorial and people have slurped it as per their capacity and taste. It seeds the human genius, lets the fertile minds of poets sing heavenly Muse, and enables scientists to invent and innovate. In order to bask in the light of creativity, we have to remove the fences that block our direct contact with Nature and create a balance between real and virtual realities we live in. The conflicting demands of modern day life may have constrained us in developing a traditional relationship with nature. As Robert Frost puts it, “Woods are lovely, dark and deep; but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep”. However, we must continue to find creative ways of engagement with Nature and develop a New Contract in consonance with its primal principles of ‘balance’ and ‘creativity’. Rachel Carson, who started ‘Environmental Renaissance’ and mainstreamed environmentalism as a cultural movement in 1962, introduced one such creative way of engagement with Nature. In her landmark book “Silent Spring”, she introduced the ‘biotic approach’ for vector control such as the use of fish to eat mosquito larvae in the case of Dengue. She informed that our industrialized environment had the presence of more than 70,000 chemicals. “Even human bodies contain more than 250 chemical contaminants resulting in loss of fertility, precocious development and an average drop of more than 50% in the sperm count of men in just half a century’s time”.. “Man’s endeavors to control nature by his powers to alter and to destroy would inevitably evolve into a war against himself, a war he would lose unless he came to terms with nature”, she continued. A similar concept was put forward in 1997 by an American writer and innovation consultant named Janine Benyus. The concept of ‘biomimicry’ suggests designing and redesigning everything from buildings, cities and societies by emulating the Nature’s principles. ‘Biomimicry is a way of looking at 3.8 billion years of good ideas to allow us to leapfrog ahead without having to go through all those years of evolution’, defines a US business website. There can be many such creative and innovative ways of developing a rapport with Nature and averting the gravest ever challenges in the form of biodiversity loss, climate change and even man’s own sustainability and existence on Earth. However, the desired results cannot be achieved unless we make a basic shift in our outlook towards Nature and start viewing it as a shared abode; as an integrated space without national borders; and as a living entity with a tendency to quickly balance itself. The author is a Team Leader, Sustainable Cities Initiative at LEAD Pakistan, Islamabad and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, January 22nd 2018.