What if we acted as if nature really mattered? Back in 1990, while riding on the Bay Area rapid transit (the BART) system to a temporary carpenter's helper gig in San Francisco, I was reading daily from a fairly recent book by Bill Devall and George Sessions. Deep Ecology: Living As if Nature Mattered (an updated 2001 edition is now available) was the book, and I was never the same after reading it. It shifted my perspective, permanently. I still recommend it.
Sessions went on to edit Deep Ecology in the Twenty-first Century, and that, too, is a book I would recommend to anyone interested in this topic.
We can't survive without or apart from our relationships with and connections to the other living things on this planet, or apart from Earth itself. They provide us with everything we need. This is more true than ever, in the age of expanding awareness of a changing climate, shrinking areas of primary forests, expanding deserts, overexploited fish populations, encroachment of invasive species, chemical contaminants in water and food, or a long laundry list of other serious problems facing us and our descendants. And what about those other life forms? I bow to them, in the way I bow to all fellow humans. As I bow, I say "namaste", meaning: "the holy place within me, pays respect to the holy place within you", whether you are a man or woman, an elk or a salmon, a condor or a chickadee, a butterfly or a grasshopper, a snake or a frog.