Catton and Dunlap’s discussion of the Human Exceptionalism Paradigm (HEP) and the New Environmental Paradigm (NEP) offer different perspectives on how to view trees and their value in our ‘human’ world. It’s important to first note that a paradigm as defined by Catton and Dunlap; “is an image shared by members of a scientific community telling them the nature of their science’s subject-matter.” (Catton & Dunlap 256). Also, each of these paradigms has their own perspective on how humans interact with the natural systems of the world.
The Human Exceptionalism, HEP, claims that humans are a superior species that they are exempt form any environmental forces. In contrast, the New Environmental Paradigm (NEP) recognizes the innovative capacity of humans thus saying that humans are ecologically interdependent as are other species of the world. This paradigm notes the power of social and cultural forces as well as humans being impacted by the changes in our ecosystems. It is important to also note that NEP understands that the earth has a finite level of natural resources; therefore the environment does indeed impact our human activity even if HEP believes that we can rise above because we humans are the superior species.
Now, as I sit back and take a moment to observe Sycamo, I think here at Dickinson we follow the New Environmental Paradigm (NEP). Why? Well, we place these trees as not only to be aesthetically pleasing but also to serve as providers for animals living in the area. The trees provide many environmental services that improve the air, water, and land around us. I see Sycamo as an important contributor to bettering our campus both as an aesthetic and provider of environmental services that human cannot emulate. NEP brings attention to the fundamental characteristics of a thriving ecological makeup and here at Dickinson we experience that with all the varying plants and trees.
However, I would also argue for the Human Exceptionalism Paradigm (HEP) for these trees have no business being in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Humans ignore the fact that the exploitation of natural resources will lead to our demise and continue to alter the environment to our liking. That very same ideology goes for Dickinson’s way of altering Carlisle’s environment by introducing new species of plants and trees that best fit both the needs of the environment and humans. But then again, is Dickinson doing this with good or bad intentions? Well, if that’s the case, I think this is all done with the good intentions of aiding the altered environment Carlisle has created. We are helping the animals already living here with providing trees that act as good sources of food and shelter. Following this type of thinking will ensure the ecosystem continues to thrive and support human lives here in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.