In Week 4, we explored the End of Nature as signified by our global impact on the climate. With a similarly gloomy narrative, Stephen Meyer details how anthropogenic activity is changing “natural” selection to human selection. Proponents of restoring the environment and keeping its species alive, such as George Monbiot and Stewart Brand, further strengthen Meyer’s narrative. One could view re-wilding and restoring nature as very positive. Yet such campaigns will not change our current relationship with nature, in which we dominate nature and decide which species survive. In the words of Jack Turner, nature is becoming man’s “dependent . . . a patient,” (110). What I found most alarming in the reading was Meyer’s discussion of “ghost species”. I am concerned, more broadly, that affects we are having on nature, on species, and ourselves may remain hidden until great damage has been done, like a cancer. Speaking of cancer, DDT is a perfect example of this phenomenon. By the time scientists could recognize and stop the application of DDT in the United States, the persistent insecticide had already affected the environment, and will remain in the environment for years to come.
Coming from a philosophy perspective, Val Plumwood dissolves our exaggerated ego as a species. By going from a master of nature to little more than a crocodile’s next meal, the illusion of control over nature is broken for her. In some cases, I doubt that Plumwood would disagree with the science of ecology. Her anecdote of nature, though powerfully cathartic, has its limits. By saying “limited” I take the position that while we do not control nature on the micro-scale, we are changing the climate and replacing natural selection with our own influences. I first read Plumwood’s article two years ago for a class on sustainability, social justice, and human rights. At that time, I linked Professor Plumwood’s narrative to climate change, and how our inconsideration of science would lead nature to get back at us in the future. But wouldn’t this be a man-made nature now? I imagine so. In the theme of this week’s topic, I believe that nature will get back in some sense. Even Meyer, despite his cynicism, speculates that nature may make a come back; that humans are a temporary disturbance to nature. In a roundabout way, nature is still incapable of going against what is good for humans. I have concluded that will never be fully in control of nature, but that we have a very strong, negative influence upon our environment. As McPhee’s Atchafalaya demonstrated, nature will always take its course. Even at great expense, our efforts can only delay the inevitable workings of time. These negative affects may show signs in the environment first, but will eventually inflict some moral, economic, and social costs on humanity.
How will we preserve biodiversity? Turner and Meyer appear to agree in their arguments against the current preservation regime. Meyer laments the conception “Wilderness-Act wilderness”. By his argument wild areas ought not to be defined by the absence of humans, but instead by the relationship between humans and nature. Turner also takes issue with the reserve mentality with the reasoning that nature is too interconnected to be supported by small, disparate patches of land. In concurrence, Meyer advocates small reserves only for the purpose of buying time towards repopulating larger-scale, ecologically connected reserves.
Does any of this matter? Of course – sustaining biodiversity and blunting the impact of climate change will have two main benefits. Nature is a part of our culture. By losing so many species, we’re going to lose a part of ourselves. One may also argue that these organisms have an intrinsic right to live freely. More importantly, we are in a position to maintain an ecosystem that is already somewhat friendly to our habitation. With more man-made droughts, wildfires, and other man made calamities, the world will become an even tougher place. The sociopolitical gears of change are turning, albeit slowly towards progress on environmental issues. If we fail to cut carbon sooner rather than later, geo-engineering may become our risky and expensive last resort.

Plumwood, Turner, and Meyer all argue that the root cause of our environmental crisis is the human dominance of nature. Plumwood brings to light the idea that humans are preys, not solely predators—we are part of the food chain and we are vulnerable along with other animals. Turner bluntly presents the argument that humans are obsessed with control. We prefer to control nature and money is the main driver of how we go about this. Finally, Meyer narrates how we have lost the wild and how the extinction crisis is rooted at much deeper causes than human activity. I believe all authors argue that we are misguided and lack perspective on our place in the natural world. We forget that we are integrated and part of nature. We have the urge to constantly control and dominate all aspects our nature and how we interact with our environment.
Plumwood’s powerful experience and story reveals our roles as master and predators from the outside, manipulating our surroundings to create this human supremacist culture. What I found most revealing of her story was the response of the rescuers after the crocodile had attacked her. As a way to demand justice, they were going to kill a random crocodile the next day. This response reveals our way of thinking and our belief that humans are superior to all other species. A random killing of a crocodile would not be an act of justice, but rather revenge. Although I admit that it is a scary thought to consider ourselves as prey and food for other animals, I agree with Plumwood that we must “realize how misguided we are to view ourselves as masters of a tamed and malleable nature.”
Similar to Plumwood, Turner speaks about our lack of perception. He argues that the preservation of wildness, wilderness, and biodiversity requires a revolution in the way we think and a transformation of our Western structure. The belief that humans dominate nature has built the basis of our structural system. In a political and economic aspect, we form our policies based on money. Political decisions surrounding environmental issues such as conservation management is formed by more human control and economic value. Humans prefer control of nature because it brings economic value. If we followed the method of “let it be,” there is no money in it, therefore, no human interest. I thought Turner presented a strong and frightening argument about our policies are based on economic value rather than science. When he asks, “where do we place our trust?” I found myself struggling for a response. Policies drive the way in which our society functions and largely impacts our relationship to nature—so who should we trust to make these decisions?
Meyer touches on some of the same political topics as Turner. However, Meyer argues that the approach to “let it be,” is unrealistic. Our world is run by human dominance and it is unrealistic to believe that we can simply preserve a large land and let it go back to its own self-order. Meyer also argues, in regards to the extinction crisis, that this issue requires change much deeper than regulatory response. We’ve created this illusion that humans have total control and we dominate nature. Now, as we live in a whole new world, we must rebuild the basis of all of our fundamental principles. By the end of all of these readings, I felt overwhelmed. Meyer presents brief solutions to our extinction crisis, such as the intensive management (although it requires more human control), however, we’ve created a crisis that is out of our control.

Throughout the course, we have been battling back and forth about the definition of wilderness and what makes something “wild.” There is the romanticized version personified by Thoreau, stating that in wilderness we find ourselves, and then there are views by people like Stephen Meyer who believe that there is no more wilderness left. The book The End of the Wild, along with the other two readings for this week by Jack Turner and Val Plumwood, deal with this idea of either getting back to nature or getting nature back. At first glance, this seems like a harmless generalization, but in reality, this question of whether or not we can get nature back, is one that is the most pressing issues of our generation.

Not only are humans responsible for climate change and damage to this planet, but we are also responsible for the extinction of species, the destruction of biomes, and a loss of hope for innumerable organisms. What Meyer’s novel highlights, along with Turner’s and Plumwood’s works, is that we need to have realistic expectations of what to expect in terms of biological conservation. Instead of shooting for the stars and trying to save every single species, these authors feel that we need to be more realistic about what to expect in regards to the linkage between humans and their place in nature

I feel that it is necessary to begin this discussion with the last sentences from The End of the Wild. They read, “We have lost the wild for now. Perhaps in five or ten million years it will return.” There are some who will read these words, and believe that Meyer is out of his mind. They will argue that the wild is still alive, well, and all around us. To these doubters, I would love to commend them on just how wrong and irrational their claims are. The facts are clear that we are responsible for increasing extinction rates of countless plant and animal species. We are speeding up natural processes, destroying habitats, and finding loopholes in various environmental policies in order to beat the system. Not only is this immoral and unjust, but it goes against the obligation that we as the most dominant species on this planet have. As ever powerful overseers, with the ability to decide which species lives and which species fades away, it is our job to make sure that all species get a fair shot at life in today’s environment. We should not focus on whether a species is a “relic” or a “ghost,” in Meyer’s words, but we should instead focus on putting everything on an equal playing field and giving every species, no matter their size, a chance. Furthermore, individuals need to acknowledge that these ecosystems that we have disturbed were in place far longer then the human race. It’s ironic that we preach for the destruction of invasive species, when we ourselves are the deadliest invasive species of all time. Going off of this, I would like to highlight something that came out of Val Plumwood’s story pertaining to her near death experience at the hands of a crocodile. She states that it was not the animal’s fault that she was attacked, but rather her own. This sentiment is one that might be one of the most influential statements that came from this week’s readings. The reason why it is so influential is because in all of human history, the animals that have been hunted, or killed for attacking cattle, should not be held responsible for their misgivings. They are doing what comes naturally to them, and the fault is on us for establishing communities to close to their ecological ranges. By having little compassion, selfishness, and the above all quest for economic gain, we as the human race have destroyed the wilderness. I agree with Meyer that the term “wild,” means nowhere near what it used to, which is a disgrace

Overall, what these readings and this course as a whole have taught me is that we still have a long way to go if we wish to save the ecosystems of the world in the long run. Many conservation efforts, NGO’s, and environmental efforts, are simply not doing enough. Not only are they not doing enough, but they are not focusing on what the should per say be focusing on. Instead of putting money towards polar bears or pandas, money should be put towards the arctic and the bamboo forests within which they reside. As a citizen of the world, it embarrasses me how little governments either care or invest in saving global plant and animal populations. They are too busy patting themselves on the back and congratulating themselves for being billionaires, that they are blind to what’s going on in their own backyards. In the next century, the woods, oceans, and countless other environments of the world will not be how they are today. Sure they may still be there, but the inner mechanisms of their makeup will be completely different. Biodiversity will be substituted for efficiency and economic gain. When this fateful day finally happens upon us, then it will be no one’s fault then that of the human race, and we will finally realize that there is no going back to nature or how it once was. The future will contain a warped, false representation of nature and the wilderness, and it is a shame that we have no one to blame but ourselves.

In Val Plumwood’s “Being Prey,” he describes his amazing story about surviving a crocodile attack. There are many things that one can take from reading a paper like this. For example, you can look at his story an identify crocodiles as a risk to humans or you can see the importance of having top predators within our ecosystems. I think that having the crocodiles living freely within our ecosystems shows that humans can’t adventure throughout nature without possible dangers. One of the things that Plumwood talked about in his paper is that he was worried that his attacking would promote humans to try to kill crocodiles. He wrote that while he was in the hospital one of the rangers told him that they were sending out a party to hunt the crocodiles that harmed him. Plumwood replied by telling them that it was not their fault was attacked and that he was the intruder. The key word in that sentence is “intruder”. Plumwood realizes that he was in the crocodiles home and any potential harm they caused him was simply because he was invading their territory. Many humans don’t understand that top predators are just as protective over their homes as humans. When humans are attacked by top predators the press and media always puts the blame on the animals. Humans need to realize, like Plumwood, that it is not always the animal’s fault and animals should not be killed off because they harmed a human.

In Jack Turner’s “Wild and Defense of Nature,” he talks about “wildness” within nature and how nature will never lose its “wildness.” He says that humans can intervene with nature and try to control it in ways that takes away from it’s “wildness” but ultimately nature will always have it’s “wildness.” He uses the examples of museums and national parks. He says that many individuals believe that making these preservation areas creates a space that is free from human involvement. Turner explains that millions of people walk through these areas at the cost of natural processes. He claims that these areas are not wild because humans manage them and know too much about these areas. I think that he makes a valid point but at the same time there is a lot of great things that comes out of preservation areas, one example being the creation of marine protected areas. One of the best ways to increased biodiversity in an ocean ecosystem is by establishing an area as protected (MPA). The main difference between protecting an area on land and in the ocean is the amount of people that have access to the protected area. If protected areas work in ocean environments then they should work to some extent on land with the tolerance of humans letting the area flourish. Turner also talks about constructing a new conservation ethic. He says that the first step in this is, “to understand why we impose a human order on nonhuman orders.” The less that humans try to control nature, the more nature can naturally fix what harm humans have created to earth’s environments. Maybe we need to construct a conservation ethic that allows nature to fix itself, with as little human help as possible.

I found Meyer’s The End of the Wild intriguing because it touched on many of the ideas that we discussed last week in our lecture. For example, he raised an issue that I considered last week which is, is it within our right as a species to conduct activities such as spraying insecticides or placing fish in ponds to eat mosquito larvae so that we can live a more comfortable and safer lifestyle? While I am still struggling myself to come up with an answer to this question I think that to an extent it is within our right. Other animals alter the environment around them in order to be more successful at reproducing and ensuring that they will continue to inhabit a certain area. When I was in Costa Rica we learned about a plant that would secrete a toxin from its roots which killed all the other plants in the vicinity but ensured its seedlings would propagate the area. Humans are just able to do this on a much larger scale. Perhaps this means that we also have an obligation to take a closer look at how our actions will influence environments.
I also thought that Meyer’s argument against bringing back dead species was the strongest that I have heard. It may be true that humans have wiped out certain species. And it may be true that we feel a certain guilt associated with this and because of this we want to bring back those species. However, as Meyer’s points out, the factors that lead to the extinction of those species have not gone away since the species went extinct; combine this with an ever expanding human population and the odds are that the extinction factors have only intensified. What would then happen should we reintroduce these species? Most likely, they would die again. The only other option is to have them live in zoos, but what kind of existence is that? I would like to see a wooly mammoth as much as the next person, but I cannot justify spending the money and research on bringing one back so it can live an enclosure. To do so seems to only really fulfill our selfish desire to see these animals. When considering deextinction, the topic of how do we preserve the species that are still in existence is inevitably raised.
In the second to last chapter, Meyer argues for wildlife reserves that are connected by corridors. I also learned about this method of conservation in Costa Rica. When I was there I even visited some of the national parks that were part of the corridors. In theory, this method seems sound. Yet in practice it is quite complicated. Conservation corridors must span hundreds, if not thousands of miles to be effective. To create a continuous corridor is extremely hard. The main obstacle is money. Often times a cute keystone species is chosen as the face of the project so that people will be more likely to donate money. Here, we can see how, as Meyer points out, even these sorts of projects are anthropocentric in their nature. We are choosing what animals we would like to protect. Because in order to protect that particular keystone species we must create a corridor that is suited to their migration and living habits. While a bird species might not care if a road interrupts the corridor, smaller, landlocked species might; a road might cause them to halt their migration entirely. When you look at it this way, it is easy to see how the wild of the future might look rather homogenous. Containing only the species that can coexist with people.
Plumwood’s article Being Prey made me think about the fragility of our existence. I took special interest in the part where she discusses how we take offense when animals attack and kill people, yet we consume millions of them every day. I think it is a good example of the contradictory way in which we view the natural world. On the one hand, we love having large fauna like lions, jaguars, and sharks but we do not want them to close. If they get to close i.e kill and eat a person we then hold them to the standards of our society. When a shark kills a person this often leads us to go out and find a shark to kill to make ourselves feel better. Plumwood talks about the same thing happening with crocodiles. To many, this appears to be a rational response, yet it is completely asinine. That animal was acting upon its instinct and we were most likely the ones that ventured into its environment. This highlights how humans in some cases decide to separate ourselves from nature and include ourselves in it in others. When we venture into the water and get attacked by a shark, suddenly the sharks natural habitat becomes something that we should be allowed to enter without fear of being attacked; we assert our dominion over nature. When the shark is in the water and we are on land, the water is the nature and we are at home in our own safe environment.

Leave A Comment, Written on December 8th, 2014 , Week 14: (Re)Designing Nature II Tags: , ,

The readings this week focused more on the human relationship with wild animals rather than the human relationship with wilderness as a whole or what the human place in nature should be. The reading by Val Plumwood titled Being Prey presented a very interesting anecdote on humans being attacked by large predators, with a focus on her personal experience of being attacked by a crocodile. Another reading for this week, a book titled The End of the Wild by Stephen Meyer, explored the human destruction of species populations and the continuing problem of anthropocentric transformation of the environment.

Plumwoods article was a very interesting one because it gave the reader some insight into what it would be like to be attacked by an animal while in the wild as well as a firsthand account of the human thought process through this episode. One of the most striking parts of Plumwoods story was that while she struggled through the bush after the attack, one thing she continuously did (besides begging for mercy) was apologize to the crocodile. Why was a human who was just viciously attack apologize to the creature initiating the violence? This makes the reader reconsider the conditions in which an animal would attack a human. Usually it is because the human is in the animal’s habitat, rather than the other way around, and animal attacks are usually out of necessity. A crocodile would not attack a human out of spite, it would attack out of necessity—either to protect itself or to feed itself to stay alive. This idea created a very stark contrast to the reasons why humans attack. We attack out of spite or anger or revenge, not necessarily a need to stay alive. This idea is supported by Plumwood when she describes massive slaughters of crocodiles after one might attack a human. The crocodile is attacking out of necessity, the humans for revenge. From this perspective, animals could, in a way, be even more “humane” than humans themselves.

An interesting part of the Meyer book was that it seemed to negate the idea that environmental reconstruction, which we have been discussing in class the past couple of weeks, is benefiting the environment at all. Meyer wrote that negative human impact on the environment comes as much “from our deliberate efforts to protect and manage the life around us” as from disinterest and disregard for the environment around us. From this insight, it would appear that attempts to restore or reconstruct the environment actually do much more harm than good. I agree with this idea presented by Meyer. Further human meddling can only do more harm than good. Restoring nature is not the solution. Attempting to restore small areas of wilderness to their “pristine” state will only serve as a waste of time and energy because the circumstances which wiped out the original, pristine environment will most likely still exist.

One doubt I had when reading the Meyer book was when he claimed that the global climate is relatively static and has been for the past 11,000 years. While I see some plausibility in this, like the fact that gingko trees have been around since the age of the dinosaurs, civilization began to take root around 12,000 years ago. The first signs of sedentary culture have been identified dating around 10,000 B.C. I don’t think that the environment could have remained static when the beginning of so much anthropocentric change was beginning around the time that Meyer describes.

 

 

Leave A Comment, Written on December 8th, 2014 , Course Information

This week’s reading focused on the theme of “Getting Back to Nature”. The focal point if the readings was, in my opinion, Stephen Meyer’s, small but powerful book “The End of the Wild”. However, it seemed that Meyer beliefs that there really is no way of getting back to nature because, similar to McKibben’s view, there is no place left on Earth that is unaltered or goes unaffected by human disturbances. Meyers states that the wild is no more and there is little hope of ever returning to a state that is distinctly void of the human hand, while we are still present on Earth and most likely even after our time here is over. If we consider true nature to be something that is wild and untouched by man then according to Meyer’s there can be no “getting back to nature”. He explains that the multiple factors of human disturbances, pollution, development, etc, could be on their own relatively easy problems to solve. However when you bring them all together the solutions become more blurred. With this idea in mind Meyer’s declares that we can no longer talk about conserving nature but instead focus on managing what is left. He states that nature, having been shaped continually over the years by humans, is now under our control and that the human race is the strongest evolutionary force. While I do think that we as a species have contributed to environmental degradation and played a strong hand in the change and alteration of the wild, I find it hard to believe that nature is under our total control. Despite our continued destruction of the environment, our reading this past semester have shown me that nature is something that is much bigger, more powerful, and even in a way smarter than us. While we may fight it, and occasionally win battles in the end we are really no match for nature.

The idea that I found extremely interesting was Meyer’s point stating that human selection has replaced natural selection. In our efforts to preserve and conserve we tend to focus on only the species that we consider important. We spend billions of dollars in an effort to save a certain animal or to preserve a certain piece of land and then neglect the conservation of others. How do we determine what to spend our money on and do we even have the right to make that decision in the first place. Managing what we have left is obviously an important but how can we say one part of nature has more value than another part when the environmental system as a whole is based on a web intricate relationships and developments?

Moving on from Meyer’s readings, I found that Val Plumwood’s “Being Prey” brought about a better idea of how we can “get back to nature”. After describing a chilling incident in which she survives a crocodile attack. Following this she discusses the idea that humans need to stop considering the belief that we are solely predators to be untrue. For me this brings about a larger idea. We need to stop seeing ourselves as separate from nature. When we see humans and the environment as two separate entities we validate ourselves in the idea that we can control nature. Instead we need a shift in thinking in which we see ourselves as part of nature. Instead of believing that we are above nature and it is at our disposable we need to recognize that our lives are intricately connected to the environment and that all of our actions thus not only affect nature, but ourselves as well. With this type of thinking I think it would be easier to “get back to nature” because we would be able to focus our efforts on living with nature rather than living to conquer it.

Leave A Comment, Written on December 8th, 2014 , Course Information Tags: , ,

As we return to the discourse of the term “wild,” the variations of this definition can be linked to the different modern environmental movements that in many ways negate each other in the process of deciding which path is best. Jack Turner takes an interesting approach that seeks to reject the standard signified images one thinks of as wild and, instead of referencing what objects or creatures are wild around us, defining wild as a quality, synonymous with autonomy and self-will (as he claims Thoreau outlined). Turner uses this definition as a basis to reject all forms of interference environmentalism, such as ecological replacement, re-wilding, de-extinction, and conservation. Because these interferences are controlled by humans, they destroy the basis of nature and wild as they interrupt the autonomous “principles of organization” of wild spaces while simultaneously ignoring the limitations of modern science and gaps in knowledge that hinder understanding of the natural world.

In The End of the Wild, Mayer agrees with Turner’s idea that human interference in nature is problematic, expensive, and ineffective, but still believes that intense study and attempts at a complete knowledge of nature are necessary steps moving forward. Turner’s reading defied reliance on natural science as it is anthropocentric, invasive, has inherent limits, and creates a power dynamic between the scientist and the environment, therefore making it a problematic solution. Although both of these writers stress that the answer lies in a change of social pathology, Mayer would ideally want to seclude the areas effected by human selection and embody the ideas of deep ecology by embracing a wildlands concept- designating large sections of the U.S to be connected and then ignored by humans to create large areas of wild lands. Turner rejects the wildlands project, however, because it will make the Wild Earth environmental group into a “political arm of a scientific discipline” (still basing part of the work in science and still doing a fair amount of disruption to the scarce remaining wild in the wildland process).

In Plumwood’s recounting of her near death incident with a crocodile, she creates an interesting definition of human’s problem with relating to the wild. By discussing what she refers to as “ecological identity,” Plumwood emphasizes the subtle ways in which humans need to control nature, from avoiding having our bodies decompose to killing animals that could kill us (a suggestion people made after her crocodile attack that she rejected). She argues that humans do not accept our ecological identity and our place, we attempt to change it so we humans are on top (and sometimes specifically men as seen through the manipulation of Plumwood’s story in the media). Ecological identity is the core of our anthropocentrism and the seemingly problematic ways we are trying to engineer, manage, and control nature. But if we caused many of these problems, can we sit idly by while ecosystems and natural systems crumble? Nature is often off-balance and destroying itself, how can we define anything happening in nature now as unnatural? Won’t our efforts to fix nature redouble its artificiality?

Leave A Comment, Written on December 8th, 2014 , Course Information Tags: , ,

The confrontation of how we identify restoration presented by Katz, Jordon III, Shore, and Mills challenges us to rethink our approach to heal the wounds we have caused. According to Katz, restoration is an anthropocentric attempt to “correct” the harms and make nature “whole” again. Jordon III, on the other hand, argues that our culture should move towards the ecological restoration paradigm as an “effective process” and “expressive act” to live with our natural landscape. While Katz strongly argues how restoration is still the human domination over nature, and I agree that manipulating and redesigning nature for our use misguides our place in nature, he does not provide a contrasting term or solution to “prevent the causes of the stain” rather than putting furniture over the stained carpet. In a different manner, Jordon III argues how his identification of ecological restoration fulfills the “essential elements” of our relationship with nature.
The idea of mimicking or redesigning ecosystems to the original process shows the human’s control of nature. Restoration as a means to create the original environment before human disruption seems impossible since nature is always evolving. With Jordon III’s ecological restoration, the paradigm takes human participation and our ever-changing culture into account. Although Katz is sternly against restoration as a basic policy goal, he might adhere to Jordon III’s paradigm as a basis for policy because it does not stop or ignore human influences, but rather acknowledges and directs human participation. This creates an active form of dialogue between nature and us while trying to exact and copy ecosystem seems oblivious and ignorant to environmental needs.
Opponents against the restoration efforts in Cook County support Katz argument that restoration is “an arrogant manipulation of nature by humans” (Shore 30). Residents were only informed of how many trees were planted rather than the cutting of trees, girdling of mature trees, use of herbicides, and burning of the forest. Opponents argued that the woods should be left alone, while others argue that invasive species need to be weeded out in order to restore the land to what it used to be originally. Culture and nature are always evolving and with climate change it is difficult to imagine the environment as its original state before human disruption. Instead, restoration should follow Jordon III’s criteria, which entails a working relationship. As Jordon III says, we should learn from our history and understand the rhythms of natural and cultural evolution. The present state of the environment is distinctive from the environment hundreds of years ago, so why would we want to mimic ecosystems and create a false reality in our new world? Simply, it is a cosmetic response rather than a cure.
The salmon dilemma in Mattole, California shows how human’s control and mass consumption has “virtually domesticated, deracinated, infantilized, denatured” (Mills 42) the salmon, which were once regarded as conscious and immortal beings in the ceremonial relationship between Indians and salmon. Mills argument leans towards Jordon III’s approach to restoration. Mills argues that there needs to be a restoration of the relationship between “humans and entire ecosystems.” Restoring to this relationship creates a sense of place and allows for humans to confront “some of humanity’s juvenile errors of land exploitation, and possibly a way of seeding a new culture out of those amends” (Mills 43). Mills offers the term of reinhabitation, similar to Jordon III’s ecological restoration. Both terms defined by the authors do not require an exact replication of an ecosystem that existed in the past. However, Mills does imply a human domination by articulating that humans should “create a rough, but functional, semblance of the original ecosystem” (46). I believe Jordon III’s identification of ecological restoration offers the strongest argument. Jordon III acknowledges the concerns of Katz’s definition of restoration, and at the same time he offers a definition that can be applied as the basis for policy.

Leave A Comment, Written on December 2nd, 2014 , Week 12: Restoring Nature Tags: , ,

Apart from Stephen Poole, the TED talk speakers argue in favor of the idea of rewilding, reintroduction, or mimicry. Constantly, I have an inner debate on whether I support the idea of rewilding. It seems paradoxical because, for me, “wild” implies no human control or management; while humans much choose what to reintroduce and manage for “rewilding.” As Stephan Poole says, humans choosing what to reintroduce is like managing and this is not letting “nature find its own way.” I do not believe de-extinction or reintroduction of native species is “rewilding” nor do I necessarily agree that it is environmentally just to manipulate nature. Perhaps it is just the term I am struggling to be on board with rather than the idea. At the same time I agree with George Monbiot that the mass restoration of ecosystems is needed for a “richer and roarer life. The example of the wolves shows how life is connected to all life and organisms. George Monbiot notes how ecological change does not need to go in one direction. I believe our world is constantly evolving, and it is not the same planet that existed decades ago, we should not redesign or manipulate the earth to create something that existed in the past. Since Monbiot acknowledges our ever-changing world and takes into account that change can go in any direction, I agree with his arguments for “rewilding.”
On the other hand, Stewart Brand goes to the extreme with de-extinction and genome engineering. Recreating extinct ecosystems and bringing extinct species back seems like a nostalgic approach to “repair the damages.” Brand argues that we have a moral obligation to revive and restore what we damaged or lost, however, it seems unnatural to bring back what has gone extinct. The recreation of species is total human control and manipulation—following the same pattern of industrialization (human control and manipulation of the environment). In comparison to Monbiot, rewilding is distinct from de-extinction. The wolves were endangered and rewilding meant humans managed the species to help boost the population, which then allowed other species and organisms to flourish. Genome engineering goes to the extreme of manipulating nature.
Janine Benyus supports the use of biomimicry, which is using natural designs within the ecosystem as a model and tool for human design and building. The innovative ideas of biomimicry seem the most environmental just. Unlike rewilding and de-extinction, biomimicry does not require manipulation. Biomimicry simply observes and learns from the existing designs in nature in order to create our own human designs. Logically, it makes sense that we should mimic these natural designs in order to live “gracefully” on the planet and create “conditions conducive to life.” If other beings can build and function in harmony with the Earth, then why can’t we follow suit? We seem to be the only living species to design and build against nature. I believe biomimicry is an ideal way to design our own human conditions. We should follow the values and building patterns as other species. Janine provides examples of how little functions of different species can be applied to human design and use. Coral using CO2 as a building block, sharks repelling bacteria, and beetles creating many functions out of one material are all examples of how humans can follow these same designs. While I believe consumption and the amount we consume is one of the prominent environmental issues, the manner of production is equally important. We will always consume; therefore, the amount we consume and how our goods are produced greatly influences our relationship with nature. We can create a more positive and balanced relationship between nature and ourselves if we consume what we need and if we are environmentally thoughtful with our production designs.

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