The 1966 song Substitute comes to mind, the hapless working class bloke, white or black who was a subsitute or proxy for the real guy, the one who was well off and trendy.
But I’m on a theme at the moment, I can’t let the whole nature thing go. We only have one planet earth, and we can’t proxy that, we can’t substitute nature. The movie Elysium makes a strong point about how technology can help, but not fully resolve our climate change issues. It reduces everything to a manageable scale. Technology is amazing, but it can only work on a micro and not a macro scale. The whole idea of Mars One is fascinating, but yet a limited reality. I wonder if you’ve noted the irony of sending people to Mars to learn to live on a desolate planet?
Proxy or substituting is when we can’t be somewhere, and we send someone else. When our planet can’t be here, who will we send?
When it’s gone, it’s gone, there can be no proxy, there can be no substitute. Instead of substituting we could take up the responsible relational aspect of working with nature and be there.