Hegemonic Discourse, Full Cost Accounting and Eutopian Dreams
Thomas H. Culhane
UCLA Ph.D. Program in Urban Planning
Environmental Analysis and Policy
“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.”
Abraham Lincoln "A House Divided"
Speech of June 17, 1858, at the close of the Republican State Convention
Table of Contents:
Where We’ve Been (Introduction pp. 0-18)
I. Ecology - Natural History (pp. 18-37)
Environmental Crises throughout history
The Natural History of the Earth
The very first environmental movement
The first environmental crisis
Greenhouse Gases and Global Warming to the Rescue…
Sex and the Ecosystem
Extinction: Punctuating the Equilibrium
Environmental crises in the human era
The idea that anthropogenic disturbance is "unnatural"
Explorations of Environmental History
II. Production – Technology and Its SocioEconomic Relations (pp. 37-45)
III. Cognition -- The Mental Realm of Ideas, Ethic, Myths and So On. (pp. 45-57)
Environmentalism as Adaptation through Natural Selection
Cognitive Constructions of the Good and the Natural and their impact on survival
IV. Reproduction – the home, labour, culture (skills and norms), laws and policies (pp. 57-63)
Footnotes (pp. 64-81)
Chapter I:Environmentalism Past
Where We’ve Been
I begin with the premise that concern for the environment, per se, is nothing new, but has been an arena of shifting meaning and political contestation for most of human history. However, as a field of academic study "environmental history" is of recent origin, with major researchers such as Alfred Crosby, Clarence Glacken, Donald Worster, Clive Ponting and JR McNeill. But the conclusions of this "new" discipline seem to converge on the concept that, for good or ill, people have been aware of the effect upon them and their effect upon their "environs" since pre-history (Weiner 2005).
Though the terms "environment," "environmentalist," and "environmentalism" only recently came into wide currency (circa 1965 according to an analysis of the frequency of terms found in the New York Times Index), the concepts "environed" (surrounded, embraced and signified) by them, such as "nature," "ecology," "conservation" and even "Society" (or, as Barry Commoner would have it, "Nature-as-Transformed-by-Society"), have ancient roots. Luke (1995) notes that many would-be environmental struggles are "often hobbled by a fundamental lack of clarity about what “ 'the environment' actually is" and that "despite all of the talk about its central importance, 'the environment' constantly escapes exacting definition, even in expert 'environmentalist' discourses ([such as] Worster)". Luke uses a Foucaultian Power Politics reading of the term to create a provisional geneology of its embedded understandings and reveals that "an environment is an action resulting from, or the state of being produced by a verb: 'to environ' [which is] a type of strategic action… surrounding, circumscribing… to beset, beleaguer, or besiege that place or person." (1995:64, 1997:22) He then blends the messages of Baudrillard and Foucault to inform his readers that "everything is environment now, nothing is Nature" because "Capitalism and Nature, the dead and the living, are incompatible, but the capital has won, Nature is dead. All that is left is the zombie world of economics and environments, or the cash credits inside corporate ledgers for capital circulation and the ecological debits outside of corporate accounting charged off as externalities" (1997:22). Luke's analyses reveal that "Environmentalism" as a linguistic trope began when an increasingly controlled eco-panopticon (starting in the nineteenth century when the self-consciously ecological discourses of Ernst Haeckel (1866) and George Perkins Marsh (1885) framed ecosystems as rationally discoverable spaces that could be transformed into resources and services) began to be circumscribed by an increasingly policeable astropanopticon viewed from space. He concludes " …many of the terms associated with 'the environment' are perplexing until one puts them under a genealogical lens." (Luke 1995: 57)
Based on a reading of environmental history, I contend here that an awareness of one’s environment (one’s surroundings), interest in the characteristics of that environment and concerns over transformations of those surroundings, are defining attributes of the human being (Guha 2000). “Movements” to protect resources and aesthetic or symbolic properties in those surroundings have been occurring for as long as Homo sapiens has been using and defending the territories it occupies and using the resources and services found in "nature" to gain political advantage (see Grove 1995, Cronon 1992) . The only thing particularly new about “environmentalism” is the labels we put on various clusters of interests concerning different ways of utilizing and interacting with our surroundings. We try to capture a still photograph of a given moment in the dynamic, pluriperspectival, cross-disciplinary history of movements and ideas and give it a definition based on some kind of zeitgeist frequency-analysis (i.e. which components pop up the most often in a given era).
When we say “the modern environmental movement” began with the publication of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” in 1962, or "it is common-place to date such anxieties as global warming and species extinction to the United Nations conference of Rio, 1992, or Stockholm, 1972" or “Thoreau’s writings became the touchstone for a new and deeper valuation of nature which led, in the decades after his death, to the beginnings of the environmental movement in the USA, starting with Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Muir” we are exhibiting our limited knowledge of the genealogy of environmental thinking. The question arises: are we really saying anything substantive about trends in the relationship of human beings to their environment, or are we engaged in a different sort of activity - the social construction of politically defined moments portrayed in popular narratives of history constrained by both our personal knowledge and the social context of the time.?
I favor the latter perspective, and it is this optic that I will use in telling the story of the history of environmentalism. The course of my discourse winds through moments in the grand narratives of history when discussions of human relations to the natural world centered on our impact on what we now call “the ecosystem” and hopes to demonstrate that “environmentalism” is not the domain of one or another political party, or of a given class, nor does it easily map onto clear social or spiritual objectives.
History can be read as a series of imbricated conversations, evidence and argument piling up like snow on a New England rooftop, some sloughing off, some ideas hardening into ice beneath, and others eventually collapsing the roof under the weight of new ideas. Much of what we call history is a protracted dialogue between individual thinkers, debating and discussing on parchment and in publications down through the ages. Academic literature, for example, can be conceived as a great conversation among thinkers trained within formal schools of thought and intellectual traditions, each new paper or journal article supporting or rebutting some previous paper, or printed additions to statements made at conferences (Susanna Hecht, 2002, personal comm., see also Rorty 1999.) The intended audience of a given publication may seem to be the world, but the points being debated are often more personal than general, and, like a dialogue on Larry King Live, we who are not in the dialogue are mere spectators, gathered around the intellectual giants (or vociferous midgets) for the sport of it, to see who might fall.
One could say that environmental history is the story of reproducing memes (Dawkins, 1980, Blackmore, 2000), a “whom begat whom” narrative in the great conversation, a protracted dialogue of influences inflorescing. Who would Frank Lloyd Wright have been without Emerson? Who would Emerson have been without John Stuart Mill with whom to do battle? And while the Harvard graduated Emerson was publishing his transcendentalist manifesto, “Nature” in 1836, claiming that “cold science” cannot teach us how to value nature, could not nature-loving Asa Gray, toiling with the tools of cold science at the Harvard Herbarium to make sense of the botanical bounty of the age of discovery, claim that the only way to value any thing is to first get to know what those things are in the first place? Could the poet really be considered more of an environmentalist than the botanist?
Environmental history is also the story of crises of legitimacy and ongoing power struggles. Science, an institutional domain conceived of as "ever reformable knowledge of the natural world" challenges the legitimate authority of religion as "revealed certain truth about human existence" (Downs and Weigert, op. cit. p. 46) only to find itself cast in the same clothes (as the sclerotic revealer of definitive natural "laws" and "truths") requiring its own dismantling at the hands of post-modern analytic and transformative philosophy (such as that exemplified by Thomas Kuhn and Richard Rorty) to be replaced by a Gaian earth-based spirituality in which mother Nature is the new certain authority, to be challenged by a new reading of ecology backed by the religion of Capital accumulation (where God is replaced by Mammon; see Hornborg 1998:5, Wildavsky 1976:193) to be challenged by civil society and populist champions of the common man and common sense who believe that general thought, captured in legend and tradition, has more legitimacy than the recorded notions we call "history" which are really the "his-stories" of the privileged few, be they priests, scientists, politicians or businessmen. They are all quests for the holy grail of legitimate authority, haunted by the specter of deconstructivist nihilistic doubt that anything has intrinsic value at all. To quote Douglas Weiner (1992) in "Demythologizing Environmentalism":
"An important question is 'By what epistemological criteria may we adjudicate social constructivist vs. essentialist (experientialist) claims to framing the environmental discourse? … Advocates of one or another worldview have with rare exceptions tried to assert its privileged status by reference to an absolute, validating authority, be that religion, science, or "Nature." Insofar as our views of the relationship between ourselves as humans and the nonhuman world around us constitute a central component of our worldview system, "environmentalism" ideologies (a) cannot be disentangled from the visions of the political polities and weltanschauungen with which they are linked, and (b) may be equally critiqued when they pretend to represent an absolute "good" validated by an absolute authority".
Given the inherent political biases in all discourse, and the postmodern critique of history as hegemonically stated, power sanctioned 'his-story', which implies authorship by individuals whose views, published by the state-legitimized information apparatus, are intended for mass consumption, to which 'authors can we turn for a truly legitimate 'author-ity'?
G.K. Chesterton intoned, “It is quite easy to see why a legend is treated, and ought to be treated, more respectfully than a book of history. The legend is generally made by the majority of people in the village, who are sane. The book is generally written by the one man in the village who is mad.” (Chesterton 1908, p. 48)
In reviewing the history of environmental thought, some have tried to find the roots of our environmental problems in the ideas of certain influential thinkers, others have tried to find them in tradition and legend, what Chesterton called “The democracy of the dead… [which] refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.” (Ibid, p. 48)
In a field as beleaguered and environed by power politics as Environmental Science it may be impossible to get to the root of the problem. Lynn White Jr., the UCLA history professor and author of the classic Medieval Technology and Social Change tried. He published an article that has become a staple for ‘environmental courses’ in American Universities - ‘The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis’ - in which he blamed the environmental dilemma on Christianity and its tradition of giving man moral authority for “dominion over the fish and the fowl and every living thing that crawleth on the earth”. But this is too facile, and depends entirely on which scriptures you embrace (or, al Luke, op cit. puts it, "environ"). As McKibben counters,
“for every passage like the one in Genesis there is a verse counseling moderation, love of land. In recent years, many theologians have contended that the Bible demands a careful “stewardship” of the planet instead of a careless subjugation, that immediately after giving man dominion over the earth God instructed him to “cultivate and keep it… actually I think that the Scriptures go much deeper. The Old Testament contains in many places, but especially in the book of Job, one of the most far-reaching defenses ever written of wilderness, of nature free from the hand of man. The argument gets at the heart of what the loss of nature will mean to us.” (p. 75).
As with all hermeneutics, so much of what we get out of any piece of literature is a drastically restricted subset of the whole, subject to an enforced interpretation by the power elite and applied to their political purposes. The notion that one out-of-context line of Scripture from just one of the many chapters of the Bible could somehow trump hundreds of other lines from other parts of the same and other chapters in what is supposed to be a sacred source can only speak to the profound distortion that powerful end-users impose on any set of culturally influential ideas to achieve their goals. The debate over Christianity’s attitude toward nature is reminiscent of the scriptural debate that Martin Luther had in the early 16th century when he strove to prove that the Bible does not authorize the sale of indulgences as tickets to heaven. Luther was reprimanded and reminded by the Cardinal that the same debate had been waged many centuries earlier and that the Pope had decided the matter in favor of money making schemes that could finance the spread of the Christian empire. The protest in hermeneutic thought that lead to the rise of Protestantism was the result of a change in consciousness by the masses that refused to accept the Pope’s reading of selected scriptures. The same kind of revolt has always been brewing among Christian’s regarding their role in Nature, but we have yet to see a major Christian movement that champions environmental stewardship. It may be because, despite the revival of Franciscan thought and its insertion into the environmental debate, and the recognition of St. Francis by the Catholic Church as “the patron saint of ecology” (Fortin, 1995:214), the larger arc of environmentalism, with its decentering of humanity, places it within the even larger movement of Nietschean Nihilism in which "God is Dead" and within the nihilism of Turgenev and Kravchinksy in which all authority is challenged (Rogers, 1960)
One could argue that there are as many forms of environmentalism as there are people, because each person conceives of their environment (that which surrounds him or her in reality or virtually in their mental map) in an idiosyncratic fashion. On the other hand, to paraphrase Martin Heidegger's explanation of Nietzschean nihilism, environmentalism could likewise be described as "a historical movement and not just any view or doctrine advocated by someone or other… not simply one historical phenomenon among others…not only a phenomenon of the present age, nor is it primarily the product of the nineteenth [or twentieth] century, in which to be sure a perspicacious eye for [environmentalism] awoke and the name also became current. No more is [environmentalism] the exclusive product of particular nations whose thinkers and writers speak expressly of it… " (paraphrased from Heidegger, 1949b: 62). In fact, environmentalism shares with nihilism a revocation of the authority of the suprasensory and a "revaluing of all values" such that "the highest values are devaluing themselves" and where "Value is essentially the point-of-view for the increasing or decreasing of [the] dominating centers [art, the state, religion, science society…]" (Nietzsche, quoted in Heidegger, Ibid:66)
Environmentalism, once synonomous with what Carolyn Merchant called “Radical ecology”, has been described as a fundamentally subversive movement that was never fully realized (Kroll 2002 talks about the rise and fall of environmental radicalism; see also Gottlieb 1993). Herbert Marcuse wrote an essay on "Ecology and Revolution" in 1972 in which he observed that the ecology movement had already been co-opted by commercial capitalism. In an era of conspicuous consumption and incessant commodification and because of environmentalism's incomplete consummation (Luke, 1995), "incomplete environmentalism" shares with Nietzsche's "incomplete nihilism" the tendency to replace the Christian God that has "disappeared from his authoritative position in the suprasensory world" with some other invisible force (Gaia, Mother Nature, the Invisible Hand). In this way "this authoritative place itself is still always preserved, even though as that which has become empty" and "the now-empty authoritative realm of the suprasensory and the ideal world can still be adhered to…what is more, the empty place demands to be occupied anew and to have the god now vanished from it replaced by something else… New ideals are set up." (Nietzsche paraphrased by Heidegger, op. cit.: 69).
That "something else" filling the void is what differentiates the different species of environmentalism and leads to the battles of valuation inherent in their disagreements. It can be the pagan gods of non-modern peoples championed by the neo-primitivists, or some emergent noospheric consciousness championed by the Gaians, or a notion of Kantian universal rights that characterize some of the "deep ecology" and environmental justice movements, or a scientized version of an impersonal “ecology as authority” or the economically rational authority of the "new gods" of cost-benefit analysis and full cost accounting that are now in vogue (see Bunnel 2000 “Attributing Nature with Justifications”).
In using the ecosystem model, rather than the rights model of environmentalism (Nash, 1989), and widening the gaze so that even what previously appeared suprasensory is now environed, all these maneuvers to justify the preservation of (or the destruction of) the ontic beings in "nature" appear as what Nietzsche called an "attempt to escape nihilism, without revaluing our values so far: they produce the opposite, make the problem more acute" (Will to Power, Aph. 28,1887). Completed environmentalism, like completed nihilism, "must in addition do away even with the place of value itself, with the suprasensory as a realm, and accordingly must posit and revalue values differently." (Heidegger, op. cit.:69). "Genuine nihilism" is not intended to lead us to the Void, as those who "dread in the face of dread" would claim, but to end our "self-deception" which "attempts in this way to talk itself out of its anguished dread in the face of thinking". It may even lead us to a more complete understanding of "Being" that can fill the void, because "men are not unbelievers because God as God has to them become unworthy of belief, but rather because they themselves have given up the possibility of belief, inasmuch as they are no longer able to seek God. They can no longer seek because they no longer think" (p. 112). Heidegger's interpretation of genuine nihilism is that it challenges us to think and thus find ourselves. The proto-ecological Heidegger, who influenced Arne Naess and offered "a platform for 'deep ecology'" with "ways of thinking other than those of 'exhaustive extraction and relentless appropriation' (Collins and Selina, 1998:10, 164) was neither definably primitivist nor irrational, yet environed all, from romanticism to empiricism. He claimed, "thinking begins only when we have come to know that reason, glorified for centuries, is the most stiff-necked adversary of thought."
In this sense, with environmentalism tracking nihilism, one might question the need for environmentalism at all. Solis (2004), in a Foucaultian critique of taxonomy as an anthropocentric power system says,
The enlightenment undermines itself (but hasn’t done so yet) because it starts with the supposition that it is man’s purpose to subdue the outside world for his benefit… A discrediting of the enlightenment’s foundation on the same level of religion’s discrediting will allow movements like Deep Ecology to take hold in society… Religion acknowledges its arbitrariness or it has been refuted by science and lost credibility in society. The enlightenment, on the other hand, does not (or has not) acknowledged its arbitrariness on a society-wide level despite a small sector of society’s recognition of the arbitrariness of the enlightenment. This occurrence does not equate to the level of recognition, refutation, of religion’s arbitrariness that spawned this train of thought which the small sector of society (Nietzsche, Foucault, MacIntyre, academia in general, etc.) is now trying to refute... The proclamation ‘God is Dead’ is not yet known to society. It is possible that it is known on an individual level, but the individuals who know, do not know or think that others know, still do not discuss this with other individuals on a public level. This type
of public discussion about God’s death needs to occur. Everyone needs to read Kant. However, it is not just Kant that needs to be read and comprehended, but also all philosophy since then—all that which MacIntyre cites that have failed to justify the enlightenment (Kierkegaard, Hume, etc.). Until such a point of realization is reached by society, ‘God is Dead’ will not be known. Nihilism is the result of the inevitable failing of the enlightenment, but it has failed to actualize itself society-wide, and thus this regression to the arbitrariness of the enlightenment has not taken place... The enlightenment as a holdover into contemporary society was depicted to be latently assuming the necessity of mankind’s
existence. By using the methodology of Michel Foucault to explore the inconsistencies within the attitudes and claims of the enlightenment, from its anthropocentric genesis to its subsequent creation- taxonomy, one can begin to understand the origins of the societal consciousness that previously disallowed the acceptance of environmental movements like Deep Ecology. Once the faulty foundations of contemporary consciousness are exposed, it becomes increasingly difficult to unknowingly or justifiably dismiss Deep Ecology as easily as it had previously done before. (pp 13, 14, 20)
Where Luke (1995 op cit.) sees cosummational environmentalism as the highest form of capitalism, Solis’ point of view suggests a type of biocentric environmentalism emerging as the logical endpoint to philosophy (in any event, “George Lukacs said that the purpose of western philosophy was the justification of the bourgeois class/system”, the privilege of which radical ecology would dismantle). This is supposed to occur in much the same eschatological way that Marx and Engels saw socialism emerging as the endpoint to capitalism. Only the future will tell. But these perspectives should make us wonder, what does environmentalism do that “genuine nihilism” isn't already doing? Perhaps all these trends rush toward the “singularity” that Verner Vinge (1993), Hans Moravec (1988), Marvin Minsky (1985), K. Eric Drexler (1986) and Frank Tipler (1995) talked about when they and the cybernetic transhumanists declared the human era to be over. Environmentalism, as it emerged in the US in the 1960s, questioned all kinds of authority and values with a bias toward ecosystems and non-human beings, and forced us to look beyond our selves and our naked self interest. It should come as no surprise that popular culture after Earth Day was dominated by visions of life off the earth in galaxies far, far away where humans on star treks, engaged in star wars, had to contend with the dreams and desires and ambitions of other forms of intelligent being, and in which the ability to destroy entire planets is taken for granted. Movements of the 1960’s based on the Rights Model of Nature, extended as Nash would have us extend them, would ultimately have to embrace non-human others, while movements based on the Ecosystem Model of Nature would ultimately see us succumb to unconscious biological imperatives and force us to engage in adaptive behavior that would inevitably preserve ecosystem robusticity or result in extinction (Solis, op cit: 17, see also Morrison 1999, who encourages us to “switch of the cultural soundtrack and concentrate on the figures and the population graph” observing that “... it all looks astonishingly like the end of a typical mammal plague – and the beginning of Selye’s general adaptive syndrome.”). Unlike the humanism of Sartre's existentialism, which still privileged the universe of human subjectivity and gave Homo sapiens, the animals Carl Sagan called “significance junkies”, a “huis ouvert” to transcendence through the ability to create our own meaning in an otherwise meaningless Natural Universe, environmentalism as a historical movement completely decenters human consciousness, rendering us merely “typical mammals”. It even questions the independent existence of (wo)man, preferring to see him/her as a mere strand in the ecological weave of "extended phenotypes" (Dawkins, op cit.). In India in the early 90s influential publications argued that there was no need for any “Green Party” as such, but that green thinking should be “innoculated” in all parties (Peritore 1993:810). So do we even need ‘environmentalism’, or any specific “ecophilosophy” or any of the many other neologisms we’ve come up with for our most panoptically environed view of “Dasein” (“as many as the neologist can devise” quipped O’Neill 1989 in “An Environmentalist Lineage”)? In a certain sense Nihilism can be seen as the stream and environmentalism as merely one of the objects caught up in its current. As such, however, especially in its “incomplete forms” environmentalism has taken on certain characteristics, determined by the voices of the storytellers describing their particular "eco-drama".
"The Environment" is seen by some as merely the backdrop against which we act our drama of power relations.
One of the most popular of those dramas emerged because of what Karl Jaspers called the struggle between "a life of the spirit" and the "enslaving forces of machine-age modern civilization" (the manufacture of 'public opinion' due to commercialized entertainment, 'massed' sporting events, cinema, radio, popular journalism, intense mechanization of industrial labour, standardization of products and a new urban culture). Jaspers work, and that of "mass society" theorists such as Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and Theodore Adorno suggest to me that the first wave of what has been called "The Modern Environmental Movement" (Milton, 1996) and which I call "Environmentalism Past" had a characteristic shape and told a characteristic story because it was situated in a historical period when modern communications technology and the spread of a post-world war superpower hegemonically homogenized some perspectives and eclipsed others.
In the 1960's, on a planet that had roughly 3 billion people, television, the multi-media shaper of minds, went worldwide, invading living rooms and bedrooms, bars and hotel lobbies from Boston to Bangkok, but with only three syndicated American network television stations filtering and creating the lion's share of the news for most of the world. Additionally a mere handful of publishers put out the vast majority of newspapers and magazines and books that were carried to the far corners of the globe. Because of this media hegemony US losses in a war in a tiny SouthEast Asian country that over its 11 year period (1964-1975) claimed 47,378 American soldiers loomed larger in the consciousness of media literate people all over the planet than concurrent events such as the Suharto government massacres in Indonesia (1965-1966) that claimed 500,000 to a million lives, the Biafran War in Nigeria (1967-1970) that claimed a million lives, the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 that took 300,000 to 3 million lives, the North Yemen Civil war with 150,000 casualties between 1962 and 1970, the hundreds of thousands dead in Guatemalan Civil Wars and massacres from 1962 to 1996, and America's untelevised "secret war" in Laos (1962-1975) with estimated Laotian losses of 175,000–1,150,000 from the "heaviest US-led bombing campaign since World War II". For reference, the total number of US casualties in the war was 20 times fewer than the number of North Vietnamese army casualties, to say nothing of Vietnamese civilian deaths, which hardly made it on the air at all (with the exception of some famous images of napalmed civilians and village massacres toward the end of the war used for political leverage in the US as the benefits of the conflict began to diminish); to put this into context with casualties from 'environmental risks' this 11 year statistic is 10 times fewer than die in America each year from the toxic residuals of burning tobacco products (some would claim these victims were 'sent to their deaths' by criminally irresponsible and misleading cigarette advertisements as surely as any soldier were sent to war, and for equally nefarious profit interests) and nearly equal to the yearly American mortality due to accidents in automobiles (vehicles that Green Party presidential hopeful Ralph Nader claimed were criminally designed to be "unsafe at any speed", again in the name of corporate profit.) Additionally, and hardly to be taken for granted, because of America's media hegemony, a group of four long haired "working class heroes" from a small industrial town in England were able to inspire a global hysteria called "Beatlemania" that enabled them to be knighted by the Queen and subsequently become spokesmen, despite their lack of formal education, for contemporary revolutionary thought – from anti-war and civil rights, to women's liberation, expanding consciousness, integration of Eastern and Western philosophical and religious traditions and, in the case of Paul McCartney, animal rights and environmentalism. Never before could so few affect so many.
The ability of the mass media of the latter half of the twentieth century, driven by corporate advertising, to create a zeitgeist that captured the attention of and framed the cognitive experience of billions was an unprecedented force in history. The fact that it originated in America gave that one country with a 1970 population of 203 million (and its approved satellites in the rest of the English speaking world) out of a 1970 world population of 3.9 billion, differential power to influence consciousness and events everywhere. Because of American media hegemony the passage of the US Endangered Species Act of 1973, a mere legal maneuver, garnered more attention around the world than the massive Chipko (Hug the Trees) movement of Uttar Pradesh in India that was an actual threat to people’s survival base and that started a huge Indian environmental movement (Karan, 1994). Because of this hegemony, price hikes and production cuts of Arabian crude oil that primarily were targeted at America (as a retaliation for its support of Israel in the October 6th Arab-Israeli War) dominated nearly all global economic and environmental discourse of the time. For this reason, Environmentalism Past is really the story of American Environmentalism, because despite huge environmental movements in Hungary and Russia (Pickvance 1997), Germany (Kelly 1992) and India (Swain 1997), the American story is the one that was told.
And what is that story exactly?
It is what Carolyn Merchant calls an "ecodrama", in which "men's and women's roles come to center stage" and in which there are "scenes in which Nature 'herself' is an actress." It is a classic drama or hero's journey (Weiskel 1987, White 1978, Campbell 1949), and within this passion play the parable has a plot twist at the end. Synopsis: The good guys are the free, happiness pursuing American people and their untrammeled "virgin" frontier, supposedly preserved for all posterity by the rough-riding President Teddy Roosevelt; the bad guys are big government and industry (epitomized by the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned the people about before leaving office in 1961) and anybody over thirty, as well as "the commies". Rakestraw (1972) in "Conservation Historiography: An Assessment" claims the story is "saddled… with a notable set of stock characters, or stereotypes… the Noble Savage [and] four joyless rapists – the Forest service, the farmer, the army engineer, and the lumberman – assaulting Mother Nature, while the Sierra Club purveys chastity belts." The operating paradigm is one of "rights" ('from Natural Rights to Rights of Nature', with environmental ethics "marking out the furthest limits of American liberalism… the next logical step in moral extension" after "blacks, women and all human beings gained a place in the sun of ethical theory if not practice" explains Roderick Nash (1989) in "An Overview of the History of Environmental Ethics") . Because of injustice (loss of personal rights and property rights) people are oppressed while Mother Nature, the damsel in distress, needs to be rescued. The world – called "the environment" -- is going to hell. A female marine scientist, Rachel Carson, writes a book in 1962 called "Silent Spring" that a young and visionary new president, John F. Kennedy reads and his Camelot tacitly endorses. It alerts the nation to a crisis of pesticides and other toxic byproducts of industrial society and questions who are being allowed to make decisions that are affecting all of us. The writings of this role model – a female scientist at the dawn of women's liberation -- inspire an environmental movement that dovetails nicely with the civil rights and women's movements. Initiatives for all these movements as well as rockets to explore space are launched. Then the nice young president is assassinated and the nation is plunged into a senseless war abroad while battles for rights occur against a background of corrupt politicians at home. In April of 1968, a charismatic African American civil rights leader, Reverend Martin Luther King, is assassinated after proclaiming his dream of a united humanity and championing the rights of the poor. The next month, students in Paris revolt in what appears to be a replay of previous centuries' transcontinental revolutionary moments. The world is waking up to reclaiming the squandered dream of liberty, equality and fraternity, only now the circle is widening to include all creatures great and small. By the end of the year, Apollo 10 beams back the first pictures of earth from the distance of the moon, and we finally get to see our fragile home from an "astropanoptic perspective" (Luke, 1997), the ultimate hegemonic map of territorial control broadcast by the American empire. With the sudden realization that we’ve truly “got the whole wide world in our hands” the American people begin to rise up to their responsibility – the former “white man’s burden” becomes an American rainbow burden to make the world a better place. The people march and defend their right to organize freely. After clashing with corrupt officials, with the help of a sympathetic and fearless Senator, Gaylord Nelson, using his idea for an "Earthday celebration" as a rallying point, on April 22 1970 they hold a national "teach-in" that gathers the best minds from among tenured professors and activists around the country who are unafraid to challenge corruption. They get the government to pass laws that clean everything up, guarantee rights to marginalized people, free women, protect animals and set aside wilderness preserves. The rivers no longer catch fire, the smog clears from the skies, people voluntarily adopt birth control and exported technologies create a green revolution that "proves" Malthus to be a quack. Eventually they even get a corrupt President impeached. All appears to be well. But at the end of the movie we find out that, just as happens at the end of every revolution, the new leaders have become just as corrupt as those they ousted and are now betraying the principles of social movements and the American people. Power hungry individuals, hiding behind the banner of environmentalism, are interfering with progress, constraining people's freedoms and ruining each individual's chance for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Fringe groups of wacko environmental fundamentalists, with their new pagan religion, have commandeered the movement so that we are supposed to care more about whales and redwood trees and spotted owls (which, anyway are doing just fine because we passed laws and have nature reserves and zoos) than human beings. So we need freedom to come to the rescue, again, only this time we also need to export it to the rest of the world, which is going through the same painful stages the American's went through in their "take off to sustained growth" (see Sen, Development as Freedom, Rostow, The Take Off to Sustained Growth, Gunder Frank “The Underdevelopment of Development”).
It is a quintessentially American story filled with holes and contradictions, half-truths and untruths, edited for simplicity to appeal to a bubblegum chewing, popcorn eating, dummified and unquestioning audience.
Weiskel tells an altogether different story about the our relationship with our environment that takes place in 5 acts and has more explanatory power. It connects ecology and imperialism and is similar to Andre Gunder Frank's "World System" story, in which capitalism is not a recent phenomenon but a robust characteristic of the rise and fall drama of human civilization that has been repeating itself in a circular westward fashion since the first Chinese city states emerged. Weiskel's drama, which I elaborate on in section IV, is a perennially staged melodrama of eco-imperialism which takes place over the whole of recorded environmentalism past over the same five millenia. The problem is that the show is never permitted to deliver its final (steady-state or "climax") act and keeps getting stuck, like a skipping record, in act four, with recurring boom and bust cycles migrating across the globe and re-devouring areas as soon as they have undergone minimal recovery.
"Imperialism engenders a particular type of ecological drama involving several characteristic phases or acts. The play has been repeated many times, and with all classical drama, the plot is now well understood. Indeed some might argue that there is a depressing repetitiveness to the successive enactments of the colonial eco-drama, as if man and nature knew how to write only one scenario and insisted upon staging the same play in theater after theater on an ever-expanding world tour." (Weiskel, 1987, p. 275)
But no matter which ecodrama is told, viewed as competing narratives or storylines, environmentalism is revealed as a movement that, despite its subversive power (Nash 1989, Sears 1956, Colletta 2001) , can be easily captured by the master storytellers and used as an institutional or cultural framework to structure the way we see the world in alignment with their purposes (Douglas, 1986, in Downs and Weigert, 1999 p. 45)
“From the perspective of intellectual history, environmental ethics is revolutionary; it is arguably the most dramatic expansion of morality in the course of human thought. Conceived of as promoting the liberation of exploited and oppressed members of the American ecological community, even the most radical fringe of the contemporary environmental movement can be understood, not so much as a revolt against traditional American ideals but as an extension and new application of them. The alleged subversiveness of environmental ethics should be tempered with the recognition that its goal is the implementation of liberal values as old as the republic. This may not make modern environmentalism less radical, but it does place it more squarely in the mainstream of American liberalism, which, after all, has had its revolutionary moments, too”.
Nash sees Environmentalism as expanding the concept of Rights from Natural Rights, through the English Barons’ Magna Carta of 1215, the American Colonialists’ Declaration of Independence of 1776, the Slaves’ Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, the Women’s Movement’s Nineteenth Amendment of 1920, the Native American’s Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, the Laborers’ Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, and the Blacks’ Civil Rights Act of 1957 on to the ultimate environing rights movement exemplified by Nature’s own “Endangered Species Act of 1973. This is allegedly part of an evolutionary ethics schema taking us from our “pre-ethical past” when “self” was supposedly our only concern, to our “ethical past” when we are assumed to have widened our circle to Family, Tribe and Region, to our present ethical concern for nation race and humanity, with our inchoate conception of Animal Liberation (appearing first under that title in Singer 1975). The schema, diagrammed in Nash’s book, indicates a future trend to complete our ethical consideration of animals with an inclusion of plants, then life itself, then rocks, then ecosystems, then planets and ultimately the Universe itself. Nash’s timeline is complicated, of course, by the fact that Aldo Leopold’s 1940 call for a “holistic, biocentric morality he called ‘the land ethic’” precedes the Animal Liberation movement by a generation, while lawyer Christopher Stone’s classic botanical manifesto “Should Trees Have Standing? Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects” appeared in 1972. What do we then make of Jainism, Hinduism and other philosophies from other civilizations (including those of supposedly “uncivilized” aboriginal peoples) that have considered many other life forms to be “sacred cows” (pun intended!) for thousands of years, stretching back into Nash’s “pre-ethical past”? Though we must remind ourselves that “Environmentalism Past” is an American story (by which we mean that of the European colonists of America), it is hard to reconcile this linear, positivist “expanding rights” view even with European history which shows us long traditions of concerns beyond the self (the history of ancient “Sacred Groves”, for example is recounted by Brosse, 1989 and the Celtic and Druidic extension of rights to non-humans is described by Matthews and Matthews 2002). Still, the era of environmentalism from the 1960's through the late 1980's was massaged by the medium delivering the message (McCluhan, 1967) and this was a linear, text-driven, left-to-right phenomenon (Soja, 1996) (left-to-right in both lexical and political ways of reading the text – "the left" introduces "radical", i.e. epistemologically rooted, ideas that probe and disturb the hardened soil of society's status quo, the "right" captures these ideas and uses its hegemonically controlled media to spin them into non-threatening trunk and branch and fruit for greater society's consumption and then "broadcasts" the sanitized seeds for reproduction (Beder 1997). It is small wonder that in the pre-non-linear multi-media age, traditional story telling forms and norms would force our creation of his-story into the typical hero's journey – ever progressive and unfailingly eschatological.
A more cynical reading of environmentalism suggests that a focus on animal rights, particularly those of charismatic megafauna that could be “celebretized” for big dollars in admission charging nature parks and in expensive full color calendars and coffee table books, provided a convenient deflection from the human rights violations that attention to environmental justice was exposing. It has been argued by Pickvance that environmentalism was a safe retreat from the contentious arena of social justice movements, that its mass appeal was a kind of manufactured consent or forced "public resonance" (Pickvance, op. cit..) to deflect our attention from deeper and more costly issues of institutional reform, and of race and gender and international relations. Furthermore, on a planet of only 3 and a half billion or so, with plenty of suburban space to flee to (and lots of money to be made by developers), we could all agree that pollution was undesirable. Thus, emphases on how bad life in the decaying urban and industrial centers was (with all that crime from the minorities on top of the pollution) could help fuel white flight to areas of ersatz natural beauty. By focusing on the rights of endangered species we could escape from any focus on the trammeled rights of our own urban poor and working class. With the completion of the American highway system, affluent white Americans and a rising middle class could move out to the edge of national park boundaries and other "wilderness areas", declare themselves environmentalists, and fight to preserve the scenic beauty and ever appreciating property values of their new homes. And industry could agree that stricter regulations at home could actually increase domestic efficiency and competitiveness (residuals were, after all, lost opportunities and "wastes in the economy", as John Breslaw pointed out in The Environmental Handbook in 1970) or could simply explore cheaper options abroad where American supported corrupt governments would maintain lax environmental standards. This is what led environmentalism wittingly or unwittingly to become associated in the minds of American minorities and third world citizens as 'a white middle class thing' (Yvard-Djahansouz 2000, Sutter 2002, see particularly Robert Gottlieb, Laura Pulido, Eileen McGurty,) and 'a luxury for developed countries and affluent people' (Yvard-Djahansouz:115). Support for environmental improvements by the middle class helped fuel speculations about an 'environmental Kuznet's curve' (the gospel that basically all things get better after they get worse as long as GDP is rising) and the hopes that the "rising tide lifts all boats" if the radicals would just quiet down and if we would be civilized and patient. It also played into the hands of dirty industries by creating a schism between the very people who suffer most from environmental degradation (the poor, the working class) and those who could be their most powerful advocates, those with affluence and political clout who could defend the Poor's rights to healthier, cleaner and safer environments. By positioning environmentalism as a luxury movement, government and industry created the "Jobs vs. Environment" dualism that enabled them to use the victims of their destruction as the foot soldiers in their continuing war to profit from pollution and the rapacious destruction of ecosystem services.
It is hard to know whether environmentalism really ever became what its opponents (such as author Michael Crichton recently) have suggested – on the one hand an irrational pagan religion with millions of adherents dedicated to destroying "progress" (Clauson 1990), or a truly powerful political force on the other. There are no environmentalism temples or places of worship – environmental science centers tend to be little different from normal science centers, zoos, botanical gardens and natural history museums of the past; in fact they often occur within such institutions. Transcendentalists and Romantics revived the notion of “sacred” places in Nature, and interwoven throughout the history of environmental movements are resurgences of religious groups who either worship nature or worship in nature, but this is not the most salient feature of environmentalism per se, which derives its power from the science of ecology rather than neo-primitivism. For example, while Druid-like tree worship has been revived by “tree-huggers” such as Luna, the 23 year old poet who sat in an old growth tree for two years, mainstream environmentalism values trees in a way that suggests more worship for the mighty dollar than the tree itself, as this quote from the Environmental Organization webpage of “Charity Navigator: Your Guide to Intelligent Giving” demonstrates when justifying why one should give to a certain environmental organization:
Over the course of 50 years, a single tree can generate $31,250 of oxygen, provide $62,000 worth of air pollution control, recycle $37,500 worth of water, and control $31,500 worth of soil erosion.
The values here are monetary, not spiritual. As Jim Norton, who runs the “Correcting Environmental Myths” website http://info-pollution.com/myths.htm has stated
“in a widely quoted speech science fiction author Michael Crichton claims that the environmental movement is a religion, based on a few claimed similarities with Christianity. But Crichton leaves out important differences. There is no supernatural being in environmentalism, no belief that the Son of God came to earth and was crucified, no belief in an afterlife, all major tenants of Christianity. In many cases the claims of similarities themselves are weak. For example, Crichton claims that eating organic food is like taking communion. But they aren't (sic). Taking communion is taken as a religious activity; it represents the blood and flesh of Christ. There is no religious significance to eating organic food. It is claimed to be healthier and also better for the environment because no pesticides were used in its production.” (Jim Norton 2005)
Even movements such as the "eco-village" movement, which tend to attract people interested in environmentally friendly life-styles, and contain a healthy dose of eco-feminist and new age philosophy, have hardly made a dent in consumer preferences and certainly represent no real challenge to the status quo; indeed they merely open up new niche markets for a greater variety of "organic" products, priced high above their margins because of a willingness to pay. As for being a political force, comparisons of the salaries and funds of the largest environmental agencies with other organizations don't reveal environmentalism to be a force majeur (Only one Environmental Organization, the Wildlife Conservation Society, ranked 12, appears on Charity Watch’s list of the top 25 compensation packages for CEO’s of philanthropic organizations. It’s president, Steven E. Sanderson, earns $651,243. The CEO’s of the top four organizations, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the American Section of the World Jewish Congress, the United Jewish Communities and the Boy Scouts of America earn $2,252,818, $1,266,106, $1,068,924 and $913,022, respectively. Wayne Lapierre, Jr., Executive VP of the National Rifle Association, sixth on the list after Lighthouse International, earns $810,705) Furthermore,
Environmental groups do not typically give massive campaign donations. During the last election cycle, environmental organizations and their supporters gave slightly less than $1.5 million (environmental totals do not include an estimated $8 million spent by the Sierra Club on "voter education" efforts such as issue ads). That compares with nearly $65 million from the energy and natural resources sectoralone. However, environmental groups do spend elsewhere. Coalition member Natural Resources Defense Council spent $320,000 on lobbying in 1999.
To put this in perspective, we should note the expenditures of the 250 business groups in the Alliance for Energy and Economic growth:
Overall, the 250 coalition members gave $9.5 million in 1999-2000, 80 percent to Republicans. With a $1.5 million operating budget, the coalition has begun an ad campaign to rally support for Bush's energy policy (Ibid).
It is also hard to defend the idea that environmental doom and gloom had any greater an impact on popular culture than any other pre-millennium scenarios declaring 'the end of the world is nigh'. US-led Judeo Christian culture was eagerly or fearfully waiting for something to fulfill prophecy, whether it was the nuclear Armageddon of a cold war turned hot, the four horsemen of the apocalypse riding roughshod over the earth, or the terrestrial catastrophism of Immanuel Velikovsy (1950, 1956). Environmental fears just added to the mix. Just as 1970s Irwin Allen type disaster movies like The Towering Inferno, the Poseidon Adventure and Earthquake were popular, apocalyptic environment films such as Soylent Green and Silent Running were also big at the box office, but it is hard to find major policies affected by such scare films, though they may have engendered continued popular support for Malthusian sterilization programs aimed at minorities and third world women, who were targets of eugenics programs advocating similar measures long before environmentalism became a popular movement (Kevles, 1999). Books like "The Population Bomb" may have scared people, but didn't slow population growth at all (see Chapter II) nor did they affect the policies of the Catholic Church (Downs and Weigert, opt. cit.) or conservative governments. Environmentalism is accused of scare tactics, but sales receipts of doom and gloom media, whether factual or fictional, suggest that long before Orson Well's 1938 panic-inspiring "news radio" broadcast of H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds" (which was a best-selling novel in 1898, and a popular film in both its oscar winning 1953 and its Spielberg directed 2005 versions) doom and gloom has been a form of welcome distraction or popular entertainment, and if there weren't real events or threats to popularize, the entertainment and news industries would simply continue to make them up to satisfy demand. And if the factual books were having a positive effect on citizen actions, we would expect a greater positive environmental response than we have seen. It may be true that after the Club of Rome, ("a group of scientists, economists, businessmen, international high civil servants, heads of State and former heads of State who pool their different experiences from a wide range of backgrounds to come to a deeper understanding of the world problematique") published its landmark study of "The Limits to Growth" at the height of American disillusionment about its involvement in the Vietnam War accompanied by a desire to change many domestic societal practices (Meadows and Meadows 1972) there was sufficient worry by wealthy and influential keystone figures that policies and technologies were sufficiently transformed in driver nations to stave off some of the most dire predictions made by the Club. We can certainly see from the following list published by the Environmental Protection Agency that most of the laws concerning the environment cluster around the publication of Limits to Growth:
1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act ;1947 Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act ;1948 Federal Water Pollution Control Act (also known as the Clean Water Act) ; 1955 Clean Air Act ; 1965 Shoreline Erosion Protection Act ;1965 Solid Waste Disposal Act ;1970 National Environmental Policy Act; 1970 Pollution Prevention Packaging Act ; 1970 Resource Recovery Act; 1971 Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act; 1972 Coastal Zone Management Act ;1972 Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act ; 1972 Ocean Dumping Act; 1973 Endangered Species Act; 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act ; 1974 Shoreline Erosion Control Demonstration Act; 1975 Hazardous Materials Transportation Act; 1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act ;1977 Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act; 1978 Uranium Mill-Tailings Radiation Control Act ;1980 Asbestos School Hazard Detection and Control Act; 1980 Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act; 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act; 1984 Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Act ;1986 Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act; 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act; 1988 Indoor Radon Abatement Act; 1988 Lead Contamination Control Act ;1988 Medical Waste Tracking Act ;1988 Ocean Dumping Ban Act; 1988 Shore Protection Act; 1990 National Environmental Education Act (source http://www.epa.gov/epahome/lawintro.htm#carrying)
Of 32 environmental protection laws cited, 14 (43%) were enacted between 1970 and 1977. Still, it is worth noting that these were federal acts, and this does not mean that local polities were unaware or did not act to improve their environments prior to the UNEP declaration at Stockholm in 1972 and worldwide recognition of an environmental movement as such. The state of Pennsylvania provides an extensive list on its website of the major environmental laws enacted in Pennsylvania since 1905 saying "It provides an interesting perspective on how environmental concerns have played a key role in Pennsylvania's history for some time". Notable laws which speak to the problems of the time are
1905 -- Purity of Waters Act to assure supplies of clean drinking water. (Act 182, repealed by Act 43 1984)
1913 -- Regulating dams and encroachments in navigable streams. (Act 355, repealed by Act 325 1978) -- Legislation making it illegal to discharge anthracite coal, culm or refuse into stream. (Act 375)
1937 -- Clean Streams Law establishing the basic authority Pennsylvania has to protect streams from pollution and the effects of surface coal mining. (Act 394)
1939 -- Pennsylvania Water Rights Act providing for allocation of surface water supplies. (Act 365)
1945 -- Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act to prevent pollution from surface coal mining. (Act 418)
1959 -- Air Pollution Control Act authorizing the state to prevent pollution from sources of air pollution. (Act 787)
As can be seen, the primary concerns revolved around residuals from the coal industry, and were assumed to be problems that could be dealt with at the state level.
Interestingly, one of the definitions of environmentalism as a movement is its change from a local concern to a global concern, reflecting a "new" awareness of the interconnectedness of all things, sparked by Carson's description of the presence and persistence of chemicals such as DDT in the most remote areas of the planet, such as Antarctica. This led to federal attempts to control what were manifesting themselves as global concerns. But once certain changes were made and reforms that benefited powerbrokers achieved and once sacrifice zones had been decided upon (the continent of Africa and the inner cities of America chief among them) environmentalism became more and more detached from the sphere of endogenous radical planning and social improvement, abstracted into vague worries about threatened Edens with the promotion of escapist landscapes of scenic beauty and the need for preservation of mediagenic animals. Other concerns, such as climate change and deforestation, were globalized beyond the capacity of local actors to realistically "think globally, act locally". As both Lomborg and Crichton point out, the environmental "litany" was thereafter co-opted by the media machine to induce a money making "state of fear" rather than to mobilize direct action. Instead of organizing for change, affluent people whose environments benefited from the mobilizations of the 70's were induced to consume these books, get an apocalyptic thrill, then jump to attack the warnings within them saying "we were supposed to have starved to death and seen shortages of key minerals, but the Julian Simons camp was right and Norman Meyers camp (along with the Ehrlichs in "The End of Affluence"1974) was wrong; because here we are, doing better then ever while prices keep dropping." Bjorn Lomborg is fond of saying, when talking about environmentalists doom and gloom prognostications, "though rhetorically eloquent, time has not been kind to these predictions." TK TELL ME WHEN AND WHERE HE SAID THIS The idea that the predictions did not come true of course ignores the contributions that legislation and technological change made in delaying ecological collapse and completely ignores the plight of the people who have suffered and died untimely deaths in the last 30 years. It certainly says nothing about all the non-humans and their habitats that have been erased. But these are the casualties of progress we are told, the collateral damage we must endure in the war for global democracy and freedom and prosperity. It is all a bit reminiscent of Dr. Strangelove when George C. Scott as Gen. Buck Turgidson, says "I'm not saying we won't get our hair mussed up, but 10-20 million tops, depending on the breaks." The doom and gloom prognostications of environmentalism are consumed, thrilled to, and then dismissed and ignored in a manner that recalls "hate week" in Orwell's 1984 where people flock to watch films of the latest villain just so they can boo and hiss.
Reader reviews of Eco-Sanity: A Common-Sense Guide to Environmentalism and Global Warming and Other Eco Myths: How the Environmental Movement Uses False Science to Scare Us to Death from Amazon.com give a "slice of life" insight into what the general public feels about environmentalism today, and even show how the ecosystem model has permeated popular consciousness to the detriment of the movement:
"No global climate disaster is looming..." Reviewer: A reader
“Huge ice ages, warming trends, weather shifts, desertification and extinctions all occurred long before we climbed down out of the trees. Our contribution is miniscule and that is the fact. Sorry, no major funding for the "crisis" mongers.” Reviewer: rickvid (Seattle, WA USA)
"… 'green' activists (many of whom--let's just say it--are socialists who want a "new world order" they can control). Reviewer: A reader
"Obviously we don't want to foul our own nest. There have been environmental problems in the past, but the point is, the situation is under control. Improved technology, the product of human ingenuity that can never be predicted in advance, has consistently provided *solutions* whereas radical environmentalists have provided only prophesies of doom. The real issue, therefore, is "green" hysterics--especially since these hysterics are so often repeated mechanically, like mantras, in the major media.” Reviewer: Steven Yates (Auburn, Alabama USA)
To read popular opinion, as presented by the media on behalf of the beneficiaries of the first wave of environmentalism, one would believe that environmentalism is passé -- we are now all aware of our environment, we know the problems and the solutions, and we know the hard choices we have to make, but we are now sophisticated enough to know that our environment has always been changing, that change is inevitable, and most "reasonable" people accept this.
Because there is regularly an appeal to historical evidence (and pre-historical, reconstructed by geologists, paleontologists and anthropologists and filtered through their theoretical optic, or recorded, and subject to the biases of the reporter) to settle an argument about what to fear or what to look forward to in the future we should start with as impartial a look at Natural history and the environmental past as we can to get an idea about what environmental disasters are, what caused them, and we can do about them.
I. Ecology: Natural History:
Environmental Crises throughout history
Much of the criticism against the first wave of environmentalism is that it tried to focus our attention on “crises”, either current or impending, that were so large in scope and so hard to find direct causal relationships for that they couldn't be easily empirically verified. The solutions to these crises, on the other hand, involved visible penalties to the firms allegedly creating them and other easily calculated economic costs. This is considered a very unpopular attribute by those who are to blame for creating, perpetuating or, in a Brechtian sense, profiting from these crises. It does, however, appear to be very popular as a narrative among members of the public who either wanted their own crises legitimized or who enjoy the thrill of strong emotional reactions or the motivation of being possible participants in galvanizing headline events. It is claimed that doom and gloom is a very popular way of getting attention (Lomborg 1998, Crichton 2004). Actually environmentalists and anti-environmentalists both use the same tactics – the solutions to the environmental crises are usually said to contain the seeds for an impending economic crisis and vice versa (Clauson 1990). The traditional polarizing of ecology vs. economy depends on “doom and gloom” prognostications from both sides. It is helpful, therefore, to reach back in time in much the same way as Dennis Wood (2004) has done in Five Billion Years of Global Change: A History of the Land and Bill Bryson has done in A Short History of Nearly Everything and review the history of ecological crises to gain some perspective on how and why these crises occur, what they mean for the organisms experiencing them, and what the emergence of conscious organisms with the ability to deliberately cause or avoid crisis implies for human welfare planning.
The theme to keep in mind here is that just as one man’s garbage is another man’s goldmine, one man’s environmental crisis is another man’s golden opportunity and one species’ crisis is another’s greatest moment in the sun. A historical analysis helps us to apply Shakespeare’s insight that “There is nothing neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so” (Hamlet Act II Scene II) and decide what kind of thinking we want to apply to the historical record. By reaching into prehistory we also gain perspective on what exactly we mean when we use terms such as “the environment” and “nature”. By reaching back to a time when there was no “Nature” and thus no “environment” we also get a clearer idea of what we mean when we say that the environment is “threatened” or that we are witnessing “The End of Nature” (McKibben, 1989)
The Natural History of the Earth
13.7 billion years ago Nature is understood to have been a singularity – a point smaller than an atom. For reasons that are not understood, this singularity spontaneously and rapidly expanded, creating what we now call “The Universe” (a synonym for “Nature” with a capital “N”) in an event we call “The Big Bang.”
3.5 to 4 billion years ago, quite soon after the formation of the “third rock from the sun” which we anthropocentrically call “Earth” (the fact that the distinguishing characteristic that sets it apart from all other planets is the unique and preponderant presence of liquid water covering 4/5 of its surface notwithstanding), the electromagnetic attractions of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorous atoms, released by volcanic action and floating around in the “primordial soup” of the ocean, possibly catalyzed by radiation from the sun and electromagnetic bursts of energy from water vapor (lightening), or by thermal processes in volcanic vents, suddenly created the self-replicating molecules that we today call Ribonucleic and Deoxyribonucleic acid (RNA and DNA). (It is also believed that some of these unique molecules may have rained down onto the planet on comets and meteors, see Crick and Orgel 1973.)
This was a seminal event for the planet; these molecules quickly organized other molecules into layers of membranes made of proteins and lipids that repel or attract water (“coacervates”), and by "environing", created conditions of security inside these membranes that insulated them from any vagaries of what was now an inversely bounded “environment”.
Sheltered from the external “environment”, these molecules could replicate and self-assemble other molecules they encountered in the soup and thus formed the first life forms – single cells called bacteria and blue-green algae.
Prior to the appearance of DNA and RNA many molecules replicated themselves (for example, crystals) but only under very specific conditions. The emergence of living cells as self-replicating entities marked a qualitative turning point in natural history. This was the creation of LIFE.
The creation of membrane-bound life forms began the separation of entities and environments that began the entire field of environmentalism. While these early life forms were not conscious in the sense we use the term today, they did (and do) possess a primitive awareness of “self” and environment. It is this awareness that characterizes all environmental movements.
The very first environmental movement
One could argue that the very first environmental movement was simply that: movement in “the environment”. A “concern with the environment” was an early feature of primitive environmentalism – the first cells evolved movement tendencies such as “photo-taxis” (movement toward the light or dark), “geo-taxis” (movement toward or away from the tug of gravity, “chemo-taxis” (movement toward or away from different concentration gradients of other molecules) and the like. Each characteristic of the newly created “external environment” produced an adaptive response in the organisms newly created “internal environment”. The two conceptual environments – inside and outside – were and still are intimately conjoined through the constant flow of materials in and out of the membrane. But the selective permeability of that membrane set the stage for an organized separation between the two realms that resulted much later on in our dialectical concepts of “self” and “other” (see Engels 1883, Dialectics of Nature) and our confused taxonomy of “the environment” and our role within it.
From the emergence of the first membrane bound life forms the stage was set for the “Cartesian dichotomy” and binary logic that characterized the debate of whether human beings are “a part of the environment” or “apart from nature”. The membrane separating outside from inside made life possible and simultaneously began the “alienation” from Nature that is the key feature of environmental debates. As Luke (1995:63) put it "The separation of organisms from their environments is the primary epistemological divide cutting through reality in the rhetorics of ecology".
For nearly 2 billion years these early organisms multiplied and filled the oceans and wet spaces of the earth. Some rained down on the land and pooled in bodies of fresh water there, mutating due to photonic and molecular disruptions of their membranes or DNA/RNA and then adapting through natural selection to varying concentrations of salts and minerals and newly formed species of organic matter as well as to the different intensities of radiation found in these varying environments. For the most part, however, the environment surrounding these early organisms remained fairly constant in terms of solar flux, temperature and salinity.
The first environmental crisis
The first environmental pollution and global climate change crisis (from the perspective of the life forms dominant in the waters of the planet) occurred 2.3 billion years ago when several mutant varieties of prokaryotes that could photosynthesize (use light to gain energy to more quickly combine extracellular matter and thus grow) experienced massive population growth. According to Caltech scientists modeling, the population explosion was caused by one of the planet’s periodic ice ages, during which glaciers of frozen water scoured the land in what would become a typical cycle of geologic material and nutrient cycling that carves out rivers and canyons and moves boulders around the earth. When the glaciers melted in the next interglacial they poured nutrients into the water and set off a massive algal bloom. We see this sort of thing happen all over the planet today when nutrients are washed into lakes and seas, but this one was a population explosion still unparalleled in history.
These “cyanobacteria” (sometimes called blue green algae) emitted, as a waste product of their metabolism, molecules of diatomic oxygen, a pollutant lethal to the vast majority of the other life forms on the planet. As the population of algae grew the concentrations of oxygen rose from 0 to a whopping 21%. (It stabilized at 21% because higher concentrations tended to spontaneously combust and creates fires that depleted all the oxygen in the atmosphere, at which point the levels would have to rise from zero again. Lovelock, 1988).
The presence of dissolved oxygen in the water contributed to the first mass extinction event the planet would experience. Oxygen is an extremely reactive molecule which tends to tear electrons off of other molecules and form chemically unreactive compounds with them. In a gaseous atmosphere these reactions are quite violent (what we know as “combustion” or “fire”); in the water they are less violent but certainly lethal in their rapidity. “Rust” and other oxidized compounds are examples of these terminal reactions. The catastrophic concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere and waters of the planet drove the relatively few surviving anaerobic bacteria to niches where oxygen could not penetrate (deep underwater, under sediments and detritus, in tight spaces between rocks and even within the membranes of other organisms). In the “outside world” the sustained presence of Oxygen favored mutants who could slowly make use of this “poison” through the development of enzymes and many layered membranes to oxidize hydrocarbons and liberate even greater quantities of metabolic energy. These aerobic bacteria eventually filled the seas and set the stage for the persistence of organisms with ever more complex invaginations of membrane technology.
Biogenic climate change
It wasn’t just the massive release of a toxic pollutant that made this the earth’s first recorded environmental crisis. It was also the first time living organisms fundamentally altered their planet’s climate. In the process of using photolysis to break down water and release oxygen the cyanobacteria actually started a “snowball ice-age effect” according to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers at Caltech TK CITE THE PAPER. “The influx of oxygen destroyed methane in the atmosphere, which had acted as a blanket to keep the planet warm… In modelling the scenario, the scientists say Earth's exact position from the Sun is the only thing that saved the planet from a permanent deep-freeze” reports Live Science Senior Writer Robert Roy Britt. The killing power of super low temperatures coupled with the toxic effects of oxygen wiped out most other organisms and drove the survivors into the few liquid anaerobic environments available. In certain locations on the surface where liquid water persisted the cyanobacteria continued their reign, but this time joined by newly evolved organisms that could use the oxygen they released and use it to transform organic molecules into energy and carbon dioxide. Ironically it was the development of organisms capable of causing the greenhouse effect – global warming – that saved life on earth.
Greenhouse Gases and Global Warming to the Rescue…
Through this crisis natural selection favored evolutionary experiments (“mutations”) that would set the stage for an unprecedented explosion of life forms: symbiosis. Several species of what we call “Prokaryotic cells” (cells without a nucleus), specialized to exploit various niches in the rapidly differentiating environment, formed a symbiotic union that set the stage for the evolution of cooperation as an adaptive strategy to gain fitness in the face of changing environments. Rather than be consumed and digested, these early life forms became what we now call “organelles” - the directing nucleus, the oxygen metabolizing mitochondria, the protein producing golgi bodies – and formed the first eukaryotic cells upon which all later life forms are based (Sogin 1997, Margulis, 1970, 1993, Margulis and Sagan 2000).
The development of organisms with complex membrane folds and symbiotic membrane continuities (now called “Eukaryotic" or "true nucleated" cells because one of those enfolded membrane continuities became a “nucleus”) changed the old dichotomous environmentalism forever. Symbiosis implied a new relationship to “the environment”, breaking it up into a host of micro-environments that could articulate and re-articulate through both time and space. Suddenly there was no longer merely the external environment and a host of membrane bound “internal environments” scattered throughout it. Through the amoeba-like ingestion of other organisms and through the temporary coupling of two or more contiguous organisms the stage was set for worlds within worlds to development – complex relationships between environments that were at times both internal and external, layered, folded, invaginated, extroverted, broken off, assimilated. Self-hood and its alienation from non-self became much more complex.
One of bacterial species that was able to use oxygen became a living captive of other single celled organisms and, in exchange for a constant diet of simple monosaccharides, used its special powers of controlled oxidation to create ATP – a high energy storage molecule. In the process of creating ATP these organelles (today called mitochondria) released their own waste product – carbon dioxide. And with the unprecedented success of this innovation the churning engines of biochemistry began to pollute the water and atmosphere with ever increasing concentrations of this gas.
Carbon dioxide, while not as strong as methane in its insulating properties, is still a prodigious greenhouse gas. As its concentration rose in the atmosphere it gradually increased the temperature of the earth until the frozen seas melted. An uneasy balance of photon using autotrophic oxygen emitters and food ingesting heterotrophic carbon dioxide emitters maintained a balance that has kept the temperature of the earth relatively stable (from -130°F to + 136°F) for the most of human history – glacial and interglacial periods of flux notwithstanding.
Evan Eisenberg points out in his prologue to “The Ecology of Eden”
“Nearly all creatures vie for a place in the sun. Like geese snapping at tossed crumbs, we snap at photons, or at packets of energy derived from photons. First-hand or fifth-hand, it all comes from the same place. It is true that some creatures, such as the bacteria at deep-sea vents, derive their energy from inorganic chemicals that owe nothing to the sun. But these are freaks. If photosynthesis had not been invented, nearly all life on earth would have run out of steam eons ago… …since most of the chemicals plentiful on Earth have been around for billions of years, the main ways of getting energy out of them have already been devised. The basic moves in the game of life--fermentation, photosynthesis, respiration, as well as protein synthesis and genetic transmission--were all invented by bacteria. Compared with these, the refinements added by more recent players are so much fancy footwork. That footwork is worth watching, though, especially when our own progress depends on it.” P. 3)
Sex and the Ecosystem
The much celebrated evolution of “sex” was the consequence of this fancy footwork, of these experiments in adaptation within an increasingly complex set of environments (Diamond 1998, Sterelny and Griffiths 1999). It created the potential for an enormous variety of multicellular organisms who could adapt to every possible available niche. Ever larger and more complex species of animals and plants evolved and flourished as a result of sex because of its ability to create new combinations without waiting for favorable mutations. Sexually reproducing organisms, differentiating into separate species that could not have sex with each other and thus magnified different strategies for utilizing resources, enabled cooperation to outpace competition as a way of maximizing reproductive success. This enabled 'species packing' of confined environments, creating characteristic assemblages involved in the first robust ecologies whose stability over time permitted forms of symbiotic cooperation we describe as "ecosystems". Spreading over the surface of the planet these articulated ecosystems created what we now call "the biosphere", a unique feature within our solar system. The complex dynamics of a planet-sized biosphere tended to regulate conditions such that the ecosystems and their components tended to last without major changes for a very long time (this is known as "planetary homeostasis", see Lovelock, op cit.), often on the order of tens of millions of years, leading today's paleontologists to describe the earth's evolutionary history as one of "punctuated equilibrium" (Gould, 1977)
Extinction: Punctuating the Equilibrium
The fossil record shows long periods of "equilibrium" or planetary homeostasis, giving the lie to statements by anti-preservationists that the earth is characterized by "ceaseless change". In fact, while dynamic change is an obvious characteristic of an evolving planet, environmental stability is one of the most salient features of the planet earth that makes it hospitable to the slow process of viable evolutionary change in the first place. It is in vogue today to discount the notion of "a balance of nature" that was so popular during Environmental Past. But to claim there is no balance in nature is as ridiculous as claiming there is no homeostasis in the human body. Of course we change on a daily basis as we grow and age, and eventually we die. But on the local level our physiological system is all about balance and regulation, and this is also a feature of healthy ecosystems. Species assemblages persist long enough in time and space to create characteristic biomes enabling long lived "K-selected" reproductive strategies and symbiotic associations to emerge (see Darwin and Wallace for detailed descriptions of these long enduring systems). It is all a question of scale. Naturally, of course, the equilibrium of so called "climax communities" is inevitably punctuated by crisis events that radically alter the biotic profile. When these events extinguish a large percentage of the flora and fauna of an assemblage we call these events mass extinctions.
The first recorded mass extinction crisis  in this new biosphere that we described, The Permian Extinction, was followed by many others, although, given the time scale we are talking about the numbers are surprisingly small. According to paleontologists and geologists there have been at least 5 major extinction events (445 m.y.a., 377 m.y.a., 251 m.y.a., 200 m.y.a. and 65 m.y.a.) and 4 minor extinction events (the Triassic, Jurassic, Oligocene, and Neogene extinctions) prior to the appearance of Homo sapiens on the planet. However, the number of extinction “events” is somewhat arbitrary since each event comprises many sub-level extinction crises. For example the so-called “Neogene extinctions” actually include six major pulses of extinction that have occurred since the beginning of late Miocene. The first occurred about nine million years ago, and the most recent occurred only about eleven thousand years ago. That latest extinction crisis, which eliminated 39 genera of large mammals, including saber-toothed cats, mastodons, wooly mammoths, huge ground sloths, short-faced bears, and dire wolves, overlaps with the rise of human hunting technologies and, according to recent analysis human beings may have played the crucial role in the extermination of these animal species (Barnosky et al.. 2004, Alroy 2001, but see Brook and Bowman, 2002 for a counter argument suggesting climate change was more important than hunting pressure; given that climate change is now under anthropogenic influence, the point for modern environmentalism may be moot!).
While one tries to maintain an objective viewpoint about all of these extinctions there is a tendency to adopt a teleological viewpoint when considering extinction events. All authors note, in hindsight, that the extinction of given assemblages of animals and plants opened up niche space that favored the evolution of other taxa. By this logic, we should thank our ancestors for wiping out the Neandertals (Homo sapiens subspecies neandertalensis – see Trinkhaus and Shipman 1993, and Bar Yosef and Pilbeam, 2000 for the controversies surrounding this hypothesis) and for decimating so many indigenous peoples. Their absence is assumed partly responsible for our presence and success.
It is similarly said that if the dinosaurs had not gone extinct adaptive radiation of mammals would never have occurred and hence human evolution would have never happened. So from the perspective of human ascendancy our success owes a lot to the extinctions that have preceded it. This “winner take all” attitude informs people antagonistic to species preservation – it is a “live and let die” attitude that emerges from a narrow understanding of neo-Darwinian evolutionary principles. It replaces Darwin’s notion of “Descent with Modification” with Herbert Spencer’s notion of “Survival of the Fittest” (a tautological and nonsensical phrase if there every was one – see G.C. Williams classic “Adaptation and Natural Selection for more on this issue) and makes the suggestion that a species' success requires the extinction of other species. It is a viewpoint that sees all organisms in competition with one another and ignores the possibilities of enhanced survival through cooperation (i.e. symbiosis – for early views on this see Kropotkin's (1902) "Mutual Aid", a response to Thomas Henry Huxley's 1888 "The Struggle for Existence in Human Society," quoted in Stephen Jay Gould's (1997) "Kropotkin was no crackpot", for contemporary views see Margulis 1998).
It is this viewpoint that informed social Darwinism (another brainchild of Herbert Spencer) and led to the imperialist viewpoint that for European colonists to succeed, “inferior” non-European races had to perish. As Gould (1997) emphasizes, "Darwin's less sophisticated votaries … exalted the competitive view to near exclusivity, and heaped a social and moral meaning upon it as well." This perspective lurks behind policies of land clearance and species extirpation as a precondition for development. It is one of the forces behind deforestation (forest clearance) and the clearing of fields for agriculture, as well as the displacement and forced resettlement of human populations (or their extermination – see Wolf, 1982 Europe and the People without History). There is the sense that one needs a “creative act of destruction” to precede every new act of creation, a clearing of the plate, the creation of a tabula rasa. Whether this is necessarily so is a matter of much continuing debate. It used to be believed that each human child was born with a clear slate and the tabula rasa viewpoint held sway for human cognitive development, but this has recently shown to be a false premise. Whether niche space needs to be cleared for evolution to take place or whether new ecologies can build on old ones is contingent on circumstances. It is not enough to generalize from past events that something is necessarily so.
While we know that extinction events did open up niche space for other organisms (it is obvious that a vacuum will be filled; to be more technically correct, since no environment is ever a vacuum, we can say that any available resource that is able to be utilized by an existing portion of a population will be) we don’t know if such clearance is a necessary and sufficient precondition for the appearance of a new organism. Much of the debate between communists, socialists and anarchists on the one hand, and capitalists on the other turned around the necessity for competition. Kropotkin (1909), Proudhon (1840) and others argued vigorously against competition and on behalf of the cooperative propensities of organisms; Kropotkin wrote an entire manifesto on this subject.
Nonetheless each of the eras in geological history is named after a crisis – a time when such recognizable changes in the makeup of flora and fauna occurred that they mark periods of enormous transition that can actually be seen in the fossil record as recorded by the geological strata. The Pleistocene – the time of the most active biological human evolution, saw a huge share of extinctions, and many paleontologists believe many of them were anthropogenic. Today, at what some call the end of the Holocene, we are engaged in a process of species extinction so rapid and vast that many biologists call this period “the sixth major extinction event”. (Wilson, Leaky, Lewin). It is distinguished by its unprecedented rapidity.
“The ability of man to cause very marked ecological changes over wide areas of the globe and then to respond constructively to them has not been confined to the last three-centuries. Nevertheless, the scale of ecological change that started to take place in the context of seventeenth-century European expansion was probably unprecedented and, furthermore, elicited very specific and novel kinds of administrative response, often based on systematic empirical observation of environmental processes.” Grove, p. 56.
It is customary for critics of environmental preservation and conservation policies to point out that 1) extinction is nothing new, citing the data such as I have presented above and 2) 99% of all the species that have ever lived on planet Earth have gone extinct. From this statistical truth they derive the notion that “extinction is natural” (by which they mean it will occur whether or not humans are present) and then, in a curious twist of logic, they somehow construe that therefore extinction is okay, no matter how it is caused. This is kind of like saying that 99% of all human beings who have ever lived died, and that death is natural and that therefore it is okay to murder somebody or slowly poison them…
Environmental crises in the human era: Explorations of Environmental History
“The first step to understanding man is to consider him as a biological entity which has existed on this globe, affecting, and in turn, affected by his fellow organisms, for many thousands of years.” Alfred W. Crosby (1972) in The Columbian Exchange
“Historians revealed to ecologists how far back human manipulations of the environment went and how extensive they were. It became harder for scientists to think that the communities they were describing and studying were the results of natural processes alone…. The gross examples are uniformly disasters: Dust Bowls, the pandemics that devastated the Western Hemisphere, the devastation of the Sahel by human use and by drought…” (White 1990:1115)
The point of reviewing the non-human history of the earth is to show that groups of living organisms were always capable of changing the landscape and altering the climate. It turns the debate from whether or not human modifications of the landscape are natural (a meaningless notion according to the ecosystem model) to whether or not they are desirable (and for whom and for how long). This view is now embedded in a field of study called "niche constructivism" (Lewontin 1983, Odling-Smee, Laland and Feldman 2003).
"Examples of creatures altering their environment abound — from beavers that dam streams and earthworms that enrich the soil to humans who irrigate deserts. But too little attention has been given to the consequences of this, say advocates of niche construction. This emerging view in biology stresses that organisms not only adapt to their environments, but also in part create them. The knock-on effects of this interplay between organism and environment, say niche constructivists, have generally been neglected in evolutionary models. Despite pointed criticism from some prominent biologists, niche construction has been winning converts. "What we're saying is not only novel, but also slightly disturbing," says Kevin Laland, an evolutionary biologist at the University of St Andrews in Fife, UK, and one of the authors of the idea. "If we're right, it requires rethinking evolution..." The conventional view of evolution sees natural selection as shaping organisms to fit their environment. Niche construction, by contrast, accords the organism a much stronger role in generating a fit by recognizing the innumerable ways in which living things alter their world to suit their needs. From this perspective, the road between organism and environment is very much a two-way street." (Jones 2005)
If purposeless tiny coral polyps are capable of creating entire island chains, if terrestrial plants can change surface albedo and affect climate and if single celled algae can fill an atmosphere with oxygen, it stands to reason that a purposeful creature like Homo sapiens, allied with the elemental oxidizing force of fire, could do much, much more. Such a perspective gives birth to possibilities for environmental analysis and resulting policy, following the adage, popularized by the "Spiderman" comics (in which hybridization of human and non-human capabilities gives even greater ability to transform the landscape) "with great power comes great responsibility".
Sometime during what we now call the Neolithic Revolution Homo sapiens acquired the technology and population density to begin to have a significant impact on their environment (see Turner et al.. 1990 The Earth as Tranformed by Human Action). Carl Sauer, who wrote The Agency of Man on Earth in 1956 stressed these impacts in his Presidential address delivered before the Association of American Geographers at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, December, 1940, stating that an awareness of anthropogenic environmental disturbance had as long a history as the disturbances themselves.
At present, we incline to deny all effects of settlement and clearing on climate, in contrast to the attitude of an older generation, as shown by the literature of early American forestry. Indeed the science of forestry began largely on the hypothesis that trees diminished climatic extremes. We are hardly sufficiently well informed to dismiss this topic entirely. There is, in terms of our present information, no assurance that in certain climatic tension zones, as of dryness, radical alteration of the ground cover cannot affect critical relations of temperature, humidity, and moisture availability at and near the ground level. I should not be entirely sure that man has not extended the limits of deserts by altering the climatic condition of the lowest film of the atmosphere, which may be called the intra-vegetational climate... Our several efforts may build consciously toward the understanding of the differentiation of the earth at the hands of man. We shall not get far if we limit ourselves in any way to human time in our studies. Either we must admit the whole span of man's existence or abandon the expectations of major results from human geography
While it is convenient for boosters of “progress” to claim that both environmental awareness and environmental destruction are of fairly recent origin, the scholarship on environmental history lays waste to this claim. Grove (1995), in Green Imperialism: Colonial Expansion, Tropical Edens and the Origins of Environmentalism, does a particularly thorough job of quoting scientists, travellers and philosophers from 1600 to 1860 who were witness to and concerned about the destructive effects of deforestation, landscape and climate modification due to human settlement and agriculture, and species extinctions. He also talks about “environmental degradation and conservationist responses before the age of European colonial expansion”. Similar excursions into to the history of environmental thought and practice by Alfred Crosby (particularly his 1986 Ecological Imperialism : The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900 ) Clive Ponting (1992, A Green History of the World : The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations ) and Clarence Glacken (1967, Traces on the Rhodian Shore) review the events and the attitudes surrounding the environmental impacts of Homo sapiens before the Columbian expansion (for that see Crosby, 1972).
Turner Environmental Prize winning author Daniel Quinn (Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit 1991, My Ishmael 1997, the Story of B 1997, Beyond Civilization: Humanity’s Next Great Adventure 1999) has made a career out of critiquing the advent of agriculture as the moment of downfall from the Garden, leading to dangerous landscape modifications that impoverished the resource base and created a necessity for the organization of bellicose city states that waged war to defend and extract resources. Ponting (Ibid) and Glynn Isaac (class lecture on Biological Anthropology, Harvard University, 1984) credit anthropogenic environmental degradation and toxicity for causing ancient civilizations to collapse, while Joseph Tainter (1998), in The Collapse of Complex Societies, revises the resource depletion theory and blames collapse on the specter of energy crises following diminishing marginal returns on investments in complexity. Deforestation in Ur, Salination in Babylon, Laterisation in Khmer and Roman Lead Poisoning (to avoid copper poisoning) are some the most often cited examples of environmental degradation costs that led to collapse.
Despite the antiquity of the environmental problem, and Gunder Frank’s insistance that the World System has operated along similar premises for the past five thousand years with the same degradative promise (Gunder Frank, 1994) there is the definite sense that a sea change occurred during the economic crisis of the Middle Ages, between 1300 and 1450 when, within the confines of feudalism, commerce and population failed to expand (Wallerstein 1974). This is said to been partially caused by agricultural failures in turn caused by the advent of what is now called “The Little Ice Age” and a series of epidemics and plagues. Jason Moore (2002) analyzing the "world system" suggested that this crisis of feudalism paved the way for merchant capital to begin reigning over agricultural capital, shifting the power center from landlords to cities, and setting off the enclosure acts that drove peasants off their land and sent them into the cities where they could become Marx’s famous “reserve army of labour” for the emergence of industrial capitalism. As Grove tells the story,
"The enclosure of common land in Britain signaled the shift from feudalism to capitalism. This marked the end of a collective view of the resource base and the beginning of a private, egotistical view... (p. 31)
Ivan Illich (1983) has outlined the link between the end of the commons and the environmental movement, stating:
"Such a transformation of the environment from a commons to a productive resource constitutes the most fundamental form of environmental degradation. This degradation has a long history, which coincides with the history of capitalism but can in no way just be reduced to it. Unfortunately the importance of this transformation has been overlooked or belittled by political ecology so far. It needs to be recognized if we are to organize defense movements of what remains of the commons. This defense constitutes the crucial public task for political action during the eighties. The task must be undertaken urgently because commons can exist without police, but resources cannot."
The Real Tragedy of the Commons
Every student of environmental policy is treated to the gospel according to Garrett Hardin, the biologist whose 1968 paper “The Tragedy of the Commons” supposedly gave authoritative scientific backing to the ongoing effort to complete the trend of “enclosure acts” that became parliamentary procedure in England from 1750 to 1850 and turn the entire world’s commons into private property. What Hardin did not report in his parable about cow herders maximizing their marginal utility at the expense of the group is that real farmers actually talked to one another and negotiated usufruct rights of the commons. The real tragedies (as opposed to Hardin's metaphorically projected tragedies) of the enclosure acts and their historical affects on people and environment were captured by the poet John Clare (1793-1864) in such works as The Nightingale’s Nest, Helpstone and The Lament of Swordy Well in which the 'proto-Environmentalist' poet wrote
"How oft I've sigh'd at alterations made
To see the woodmans cruel axe employ'd
A tree beheaded or a bush destroy'd ..."
and, speaking as the voice of the commons
Where profits gets his clutches in
There's little he will leave...
There was a time by bit of ground
Made freemen of the slave
The ass no pindar'd* dare to pound* *one who collects and impounds stray animals
When I his supper gave
The gipsey's camp was not affraid
I made his dwelling free
Till vile enclosure* came and made* *the appropriation of commons land by individuals
A parish slave of me
John Clare’s work, with its keen and ironic observations of environmental degradation and the social consequences of disrupting the peasant economy through privatisation, unlike the works of his romantic contemporaries Keats, Charles Lamb, Samuel Coleridge, William Hazlitt, and Thomas De Quincey, was often considered “radical slang”, and “publishers and patrons worked systematically to purge his poems of politics, in order to make them less rebarbative to the "genteel ladies" who were their biggest customers”. As the prime critic of private property and chief interlocutor of Nature, Clare, once as famous as Keats (and a greater revenue producer for the same publisher!) all but vanished from sight. Both biographer Jonathan Bate and John Coletta suggest power politics was behind this.
It should come as no surprise,” Colleta writes,
“...that Clare was effectively silenced, nor that most voices of preservation, conservation and respect for “nature” would be suppressed. Even contemporary theorists, themselves supposed champions of the environment, fall prey to the prejudice against the local - as though the local voice is ever ignorant and destructive. Garrett Hardin, for example, achieved long lasting fame with his diatribe on the “Tragedy of the Commons”, which assumed that all common environments are ‘at risk of a tragic ecological collapse because of a virtual law of human behavior’ whereby ‘each individual herder who decided to add one cow will reap all of the economic gain from that cow’ while diminishing the overall ecological and economic viability of the commons. Hardin’s atomistic view, however, assumes the operation of self-interest only; it assumes that there are no community feedback mechanisms for assessing the condition of the commons and acting upon those assessments. For Hardin, the cows may feed but the herdsmen give no feedback. Clare’s poems, however, are the voice (the ecological feedback mechanism) of the herdsmen - and of the other labourers whose voices parliamentary enclosure disrupted and Hardin never heard.” Coletta (2001:89)
Clare’s work shows that there was an early awareness of political ecology and the sense that environmental degradation was partly (but strongly) the result of a desire for profit hegemony. Besides the displacement of human capital from the countryside, turned into cheap labour in the factories of the city, there was also the sense of a draining of natural capital from the countryside to the city. This is something Karl Marx wrote extensively about, but, like Clare, these ecological insights have been all but purged from Marxism.
It is assumed that Karl Marx viewed nature as “a constant, static element - the unchanging background against which the class struggle would be fought out” (Foster 2000:34) or that Marx was “not worried about the transformation of nature through human agency, as change in the state of nature was constant in the process of natural evolution” (Muller, 2004:39) but a different reading of the early work of Marx shows deep concern over the environmental degradation caused by a robbing of the soil’s capital.
John Bellamy Foster details Marx’s ecologic concerns, particularly those about soil fertility, in his book Marx’s Ecology (2000). In his article “Liebig, Marx, and the depletion of soil fertility: relevance for today's agriculture” in Monthly Review he sketches the outlines of the problem:
“The decline in natural soil fertility due to the disruption of the soil nutrient cycle accompanying capitalist agriculture, the growing knowledge of the need for specific soil nutrients, and limitations in the supply of both natural and synthetic fertilizers that would compensate for the loss of natural fertility, all contributed... to a widespread sense of a crisis in soil fertility... During the period 1830-1870 the depletion of the natural fertility of the soil through the loss of soil nutrients was the central ecological concern of capitalist society in both Europe and North America (only comparable to concerns over the loss of forests, the growing pollution of the cities and the Malthusian specter of overpopulation). This period saw the growth of "guano imperialism" as nations scoured the globe for natural fertilizers; the emergence of modern soil science; the gradual introduction of synthetic fertilizers; and the formation of radical proposals for the development of a sustainable agriculture, aimed ultimately at the elimination of the antagonism between town and country. The central figure in this crisis of soil fertility was the German chemist Justus von Liebig. But the wider social implications were most penetratingly examined by Karl Marx. The views of Liebig and Marx on soil fertility were to be taken up by later thinkers, including Karl Kautsky and V.I. Lenin within the Marxist tradition.”
Living off your savings instead of your income: The real root of the ecologic crisis?
The tragedy that resulted from privatizing the commons was that their ecosystem services were no longer valued as subsidies for the subsistence of a large number of competing actors but were instead put into service as factor inputs for monopolistic industries, creating the shift Marx talked about from use value to exchange value:
Industrialism switched the emphasis from REPRODUCTIVE USE of the resource base, which leaves it intact, to EXTRACTIVE USE, which reduces the total store. Humanity began draining the Earth’s ‘capital’ instead of living off the ‘interest’. “ Grove (p.31)
Many authors, E.F. Schumacher being prime among them, have felt that the shift from living off photosynthetic interest to the draining of stored photosynthetic capital, associated first with the rapid use of hardwood trees, then with the use of coal and oil, is responsible for the multiplier effect of human impact on the environment. Much of the literature of sustainable development and certainly the early work of environmentalists such as Barry Commoner (The Closing Circle) speak of a return to an interest based economy, primarily by harnessing solar flux as income. The possibilities and the limitations for such a defossilized economy were reviewed and given empirical backing by the seminal work of Vitousek et al. ("Human appropriation of the products of photosynthesis,1986"). Besides stored energy, another kind of Earth capital began to be exploited at unassimilable rates through the mining and manufacturing sectors, and we can see in early environmental accounts awareness of the effects of concentrated mineral and chemical compounds that overwhelmed the capacity of the environment to assimilate them and belied the old adage “the solution to pollution is dilution”. A reading of environmental history shows that despite the size of the earth, the assimilative capabilities of local ecosystems are often easily overwhelmed by human activity once powered by stocks of accumulated natural capital. No matter what the actual numbers of a given human population may be, it will always be able to consume more than local nature can reproduce if its consumption is enhanced by the extraction of capitalized stocks (natural capital stored over generations as soil fertility, timber and concentrated minerals). This is because the "ecological footprint" of each person is always much larger than his/her surroundings once accumulated resources are translated from time into space (Wackernagel and Reese 1996) For a while, as the pooled resources of natural history are put into service, more people can be accommodated on a given unit of land, but such extraction will always impose limits when the replacement costs become higher than the available energy to restore the stocks (Tainter 1998 op cit). This is also one of the main points that Malthus endeavored to make, though it is often overlooked in today's political effort to debunk neo-Malthusian predictions. Malthus wrote:
"Must it not then be acknowledged by an attentive examiner of the histories of mankind, that in every age and in every state in which man has existed, or does now exist, that the increase of population is necessarily limited by the means of subsistence, That population does invariably increase when the means of subsistence increase, And that the superior power of population it repressed, and the actual population kept equal to the means of subsistence, by misery and vice? "
Malthus complained that critics do not
"seem to be aware that any difficulty would occur from this cause till the whole earth had been cultivated like a garden and was incapable of any further increase of produce… Mr Condorcet thinks that it cannot possibly be applicable but at an era extremely distant. If the proportion between the natural increase of population and food which I have given be in any degree near the truth, it will appear, on the contrary, that the period when the number of men surpass their means of subsistence has long since arrived, and that this necessity oscillation, this constantly subsisting cause of periodical misery, has existed ever since we have had any histories of mankind, does exist at present, and will for ever continue to exist, unless some decided change take place in the physical constitution of our nature. "
For Malthus, therefore, every age and every culture had its own overpopulation problem relative to their ability to get sustainable yields from nature (in his 3rd chapter he expounds on his idea that even "primitive" societies, such as Native Americans, were at the edge of their subsistence capabilities, and he credits European overpopulation as "the cause of the great tide of Northern Emigration" ). This is a point that was not lost on Marx, who, though vigorously disputing Malthus' general conclusions and recommended solutions (revocation of the poor laws, for example), agreed that under Capitalist modes of production, where the means of subsistence (production) was artificially captured by the Capitalist class, a situation was created where there was always excess population relative to available employment and subsistence opportunities, with the attendant misery of which Malthus spoke (Bellamy Foster 2000) . The great difference was that Marx believed that the means of subsistence could be improved through social reorganization; the assumption was that without Capitalism's pressure for a reserve army of labor or "relative surplus population" (Gimenez 1973), forced fecundity, functional for the "maintenance of the system" (according to what Gimenez calls the "alienation theory of fertility"), would disappear and people would be able to regulate their population better in a manner consistent with Godwin's optimistic observation that, 'There is a principle in human society, by which population is perpetually kept down to the level of the means of subsistence.' Marx wrote of the Malthusian scare
"...this is a law of population peculiar to the capitalist mode of production; and in fact every specific historic mode of production has its own special laws of population historically valid within its limits alone. An abstract law of population exists for plants and animals only, and in so far as man has not interfered with them" (Marx, 1970:631- 632).
Nonetheless, Marx was aware that because of the demands for surplus population relative to labor demand, there was always an inherent population problem which necessarily translated into an environmental problem (perceived scarcity and real degradation of living conditions and ecosystem services such that people would be driven from subsistence living to a desperate pursuit of employment opportunities). Because labor is commanded by production to extract raw materials from nature, and because surplus reserves of labor, aided and abetted by surplus (fossil) reserves of energy, can extract and degrade faster than solar energized processes (the labor of plants and animals, broadly speaking) can replace and assimilate, there is an attendant environmental problem occurring at every level of population. The use of hardwoods as a fuel source – themselves a form of long-term stored capital – engendered the same problems as the use of coal and oil, and we can realistically claim that human beings exceeded the rate of replenishment and created environmental problems for themselves as soon as they learned to fell the first large tree. This belies the nostalgic and romantic view that "things were better in the past" or that human societies existed that were in "harmony with nature". Harmony is a purely rate dependent phenomenon, and it is safe to say that in every culture in every time and place there were and are some densities of people and rates of consumption that balance ecosystem renewal rates, and some that don't.
Grove (1995) has extensively documented the long history of unsustainable deforestation and the steps that were taken to deal with it. Radkau (2003) explores the historical differences between China, India and Europe in terms of forest policy throughout history, showing how, to paraphrase Ed Soja, "space matters". He concludes
Since the late Middle Ages the protection of forests has been a manifestation of political power in Europe; in Asia, however, it has not... Effective environmental management can only be achieved by institutions that are not too far away from the site where action is demanded. Forest and water management—the two classic areas of governmental intervention in environmental matters—both present numerous historical examples of the advantage of tackling problems from nearby, not from a far-away capital. Even if the Chinese Emperor had been determined to protect the forests, he would not have been able to do so effectively because an appropriate forest policy can be organized only on a regional level, not on the level of a huge empire.
The "spatial fix" of capitalism, caricatured by the image of locusts wiping out one field and then moving on to consume the next, and the frustrated necessity for local governance of local resources for optimal outcomes (May et al. 1996), played into all the attempts by local actors to deal with their environmental problems. Once things left the regional level there was very little incentive to continue environmental management policies. Grove points out how bitterly contentious environmental policy was throughout the age of discovery, and how valiantly certain individuals fought to preserve the environments they depended on, only to be defeated by widening circles of extractive influence:
“Dr. Thomas Preston even told a Commons committee as late as 1791 that the decline of oak trees in England was ‘not to be regretted for it is certain proof of national improvement and for Royal Navies countries yet barbarous are the right and proper nurseries.” (quoted in Keith Thomas, Man in the Natural World). This was an attitude that helps to explain in part the comparative casual attitude taken by the English in England towards deforestation until the late eighteenth century, even when attitudes on the Continent had already undergone radical alteration.” (Grove, p. 56)
“The anxiety of the Commonwealth government not to antagonize its important political constituency of common rights holders prevented any serious commitment to a conservation policy” (ibid).
Timothy Sweet tells a similar story in "Economy, Ecology, and Utopia in Early Colonial Promotional Literature". The eco-drama always seems to involve a prescient "environmentalist" who is disturbed by the consequences of ecological disturbance but who is later defeated by the economics and expanding appetite of an empire that now has the power to devour and then move on. In Sweet's story the crusader is Sir Humphrey Gilbert, en route to America in 1583, and the environment is Newfoundland.
To gain an unobstructed view and entry into the interior, Parmenius urged Gilbert to burn the woods, but Gilbert refused, "for feare of great inconvenience that might thereof insue: for it was reported and confirmed by verie credible persons, that when the like happened by chance in another Port, the fish never came to the place about it, for the space of 7 whole yeere after, by reason of the waters made bytter by the turpentyne, and rosen of the trees, which ranne into the ryvers upon the fyring of them." (Sweet 1999:399)
Awareness of environmental degradation, complaints about its effects and measures to remediate environmental problems are recorded throughout history. Consistent with the hypothesis that "environmentalism" per se was not necessary, many of the laws passed to improve the environment were subsumed under 'factory acts' and acts for improvements in 'working conditions'; the words "conditions" and "environment" can be considered synonyms. A contemporary account from observers of the Alkali factories in Britain at the rise of Industrialism stated
“The foul gases, which belch forth night and day from the many factories, rot the clothes, the teeth and in the end the bodies of the workers, and have killed every tree and every blade of grass for miles around.”
These concerns led to the very strict Alkali Act of 1863, one of the earliest of the contemporary Clean Water and pollutant discharge laws, updated in the 1920s and culminating in the 'Alkali Order' of 1958.
Recorded observations of environmental degradation were not unusual. Fredrich Engels, crossing a Lancashire river, complained about
“the most disgusting blackish-green slime pools from the depths of which bubbles a miasmatic gas constantly arise and give forth a stench unendurable even on the bridge 40 or 50 feet above the surface.”
One of the most famous treatises on air pollution, standard in environmental courses today, is John Evelyn's " Fumifugium: Or the Inconvenience of the Aer and Smoake of London Dissipated " of 1661 in which he documented the effects of London's insalubrious air, contaminated with the "smoake" of coal burning, on human health and plant health, and urged the King to take steps to amend it.
It is popular to act as though people were not as aware of (or didn’t care about) environmental problems as people in modern times, but the historical record shows that the same political forces were operating in the past as today – politicians catering to the consumptive desires of business constituencies at the expense of stewarding resources for those with less political clout. Political ecology shows us that environmental laws were historically not the product of resistance movements, but forms of state control and scientific regulation (Garwood 2004); whenever environmental degradation disturbed power holders their response was swift and often extreme. For example,
“Governments have been experimenting with solutions to environmental problems for a long time. In the city of London in the fourteenth century men were put to death for violating a royal ordinance against the burning of coal in furnaces. In medieval Europe, in the American West of the nineteenth century, and in parts of India today, it has been a capital crime to foul local streams…”
But these draconian environmental policies, far more severe than the most radical proposals of Edward Abbey's Monkey Wrench Gang, Earth First! or even the alleged "eco terrorist" Tre Arrow, who all stop short of taking human life, always seem to favor the ruling class. A history of laws for England's New Forest, for example shows that even when habitat and animals were preserved, it was primarily for the usufruct use of nobles, not for the common use of commoners(the conflict between the Sheriff of Nottingham and the Sherwood forest-dwelling "merry men" of the Robin Hood legend speaks to this). Environmental Protection Agencies on behalf of "the people" did not begin with the establishment of the EPA on December 2, 1970, but the agents and their political agency was always set in an arena of shifting political power. Laws about air pollution, for example, began long before the US Clean Air Act of 1963 (Table I.)
TABLE I. BREIF CHRONICLE OF LAWS DEALING WITH AIR POLLUTION
Ca. 1800 BC Earliest documented impact of anthropogenic air pollution on human beings. The Beauty of Loulan’s lungs were extensively damaged by sand dust and campfire smoke.
Ca. 500 BC Lao Tzu states impact of man on environment, including air quality.
Ca. 300 AD Local Roman magistrate passes laws regulating certain sources of air pollution in York, England. (breweries, meat slaughtering)
1180 - Moses Maimonides - Describes air pollution in cities and its effects on man.
1272 - Edward I - Banned use of "sea coal ". Parliament ordered punishment by torturing and hanging of people who sold and burned the outlawed coal.
1390 (?) - Richard II - Regulated and restricted use of coal in London.
1420 (?) - Henry V - Ditto.
1661 - John Evelyn - Earliest extant treatise on air pollution. "Fumifugium; or the Inconvenience of the Air and Smoke of London Dissipated; Together with Some Remedies Humbly Proposed".
1692 - Robert Boyle - " a General History of the Air ", mentions "nitros or salino-sulphureous spirits".
1772 - Hales- Analysis of dew and rain, noted that "the air is full of acid and sulphurus particles".
1734 - Linne (Sweden) - Studied effects of an iron smelter on local air.
1775 - Sir Percival Pott - Intuited that soot has a carcinogenic component causing high incidence of cancer of the scrotum in chimney sweeps.
1852 - Robert Angus Smith - Noted three zones of air pollution; fields and open country with carbonate and ammonia, ammonium sulfate in suburbs, and acid sulfate and sulfuric acid in town.
1854-56 - Austria, Germany - Enacted laws against pollution with specific exemptions for air and water!
1872 - Robert Angus Smith - "Air and Acid Rain: The Beginnings of a Chemical Climatology" - First use of the term "acid rain".
1895 - Earliest known US air pollution law making illegal the "showing of visible vapor" as exhaust from steam automobiles.
1911 - Crowther and Ruston - Tie together acid rain and combustion.
1956 - British Clean Air Act
1963 - US Clean Air Act (CAA)
1965 - Title II (US CAA) Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act
1977 - Amendments to CAA look for carcinogenic materials (POMS, PNAs).
1980 - US/Canada Memorandum of Intent to develop a bilateral approach to the acid rain problem.
1987 - Montreal protocol to reduce CFC production (ozone destruction in upper atmosphere)
1990 - Clean Air Act Amendments addressing Acid Rain, Alternative fuels
Just as environmental laws are nothing new, big environmental crises also did not suddenly appear on the scene around the first Earth Day. Though we like to think nostalgically about "the good old days" people and ecosystems have been dying from environmental degradation engendered illnesses for quite some time. Contemporary observers identified greed and population density as the political and ecological causes of the problem. Foster tells the story of the turn of the century biologist Ray Lankester who was "notable for his protests against the human ecological degradation of the earth":
In his popular essay, “The Effacement of Nature by Man” (1913) he wrote one of the most powerful ecological critiques of his (or any) time, pointing to “a vast destruction and defacement of the living world by the uncalculating reckless procedure of both savage and civilized man.” Lankaster was particularly concerned about extinction of species and the relationship of this to the destruction of habitat. “The most repulsive of the destructive results of human expansion,” he wrote, “is the poisoning of rivers, and the consequent extinction in them of fish and of well-nigh every living thing, save mould and putrefactive bacteria. In the Thames it will soon be a hundred years since man, by his filthy proceedings, banished the glorious salmon, and murdered the innocents of the eel-fare. Even at its foulest time, however, the Thames mud was blood-red… with the swarms of a delicate little worm like the earth worm , which has an exceptional power of living in foul water, and nourishing itself upon putrid mud… In smaller streams especially in the mining and manufacturing districts of England, progressive money-making man has converted the most beautiful things of nature – trout streams – into absolutely dead corrosive chemical sewers. The sight of one of these death-stricken black filth-gutters makes one shudder as the picture rises, in one’s mind, of a world in which all the rivers and waters of the sea-shore will be thus dedicated to acrid sterility, and the meadows and hill-sides will be drenched with nauseating chemical manures. Such a state of things is possibly in store for future generations of men. It is not “science” that will be to blame for these horrors, but should they come about they will be due to the reckless greed and the mere insect-like increase of humanity.” (E. Ray Lankester, Science from an Easy Chair (New York: Henry Holt, 1913), 368-69, quoted in Foster (2000:223).
Stine and Tarr talk about the 1930s "Silicosis crisis" and its impact on the positivism of economic growth:
“the very machines and technical innovations that were at the root of America’s industrial might” produced the deadly silicosis disease [and] challenged the belief that technological improvement and industrial growth would automatically improve workers lives. (David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz, Deadly Dust: Silicosis and the Politics of Occupational Disease in Twentieth Century America (Princeton N.J., 1991), 8-9 cited in Stine and Tarr, 1998)
Lewis Mumford, in his essay "The Highway and the City" was very clear about what environmental degradation was all about, and saw its roots in a failure to consider the impact of population density and in the political desire of the few for temporary advantage:
“One may match all these social crimes with a hundred other examples of barefaced highway robbery in every other metropolitan area. Even when the people who submit to the annexations and spoliations are dimly aware of what they are losing, they submit without more than a murmur of protest. What they do not understand is that they are trading a permanent good for a very temporary advantage… There can be no sound planning anywhere until we understand the necessity for erecting norms, or ideal limits, for density of population.” (quoted on P. 190 of the Environmental Handbook (1970)).
The idea that anthropogenic disturbance is "unnatural"
“Prior to the European settlement of North America, wetland environments – marshes, swamps, bogs, potholes, bottomlands – covered over 220 million acres of what is today the contiguous United States. Since the colonial era, over 50 % of those ecosystems has “reclaimed” for use as agricultural fields, managed forests, building sites and other purposes. The technologies of draining filling, diking and water course modification have varied widely overt time and from place to place.” Stine and Tarr, p. 628.
"Aside from humans, no other organism has the capacity to modify its environment as much as the
beaver. In doing so, beaver create wetlands that provide valuable waterfowl habitats...
Mismanaged beaver populations, however, can severely degrade riparian habitats and become a
costly problem. The key to successfully managing beaver for waterfowl benefits is understanding the
values of beaver ponds in meeting the seasonal needs of waterfowl. Beaver populations must then
be managed to provide these benefits in a self-sustaining manner compatible with the carrying capacity of the habitat." The Waterfowl Management Handbook
Is the modification of the environment good or bad, natural or unnatural? Is "Nature" a social construct or an objective reality? To cut the “Gordian knot” strangling our interpretations of "what is natural", the ecosystem model helps us by shifting the narrative privilege of history from Homo sapiens to any of the many other life forms on the earth – not in the allegorical and thus anthropomorphic sense of an Aesop's fable or a Disney cartoon, but in the "what might a non-human consciousness really think and say" that Don Marquis used in his 1935 classic "The Life and Times of Archie and Mehitabel" where he has an ant sum up human history.
Through the ecosystem model’s lens we can imagine, for example, that we were visiting the earth 4 million years ago and observed that not human beings (for there was only our australopithecine ancestors) , but one of the species of social insects –ants, say, or termites –through their collective activities, had begun to make things very uncomfortable for many of their own species, and were threatening everything from external biodiversity to life support in the hive or nest (this is no fantasy; army ants in the tropics have had population explosions and gone on marches described as rampages of destruction during which they denude huge areas of forest and kill everything in their path). We can imagine that the inscrutable logic of production and reproduction continued to drive most of these insects to continue to reproduce at levels that outstripped their resource base, and to continue building nests and tunnels and harvesting leaves and grains and waging wars on competitors despite the obvious problems created by their behavior.
Would you conclude that what these insects were doing was “unnatural”? Would you claim that they had no concern for “the environment”? Would it upset you to know that the activities of these social insects were threatening Australopithecine primates with extinction?
Kenneth Arrow wrote in the Environmental Handbook of 1970:
"Man is but a part of the fabric of life – dependent on the whole fabric for his very existence. As the most highly developed tool-using animal, he must recognize that the unknown evolutionary destinies of other life forms are to be respected, and act as gentle steward of the earth’s community of being.” P. 323.
Statements such as this are profoundly idealistic but don’t ring true for many people. They certainly wouldn’t ring true for the social insects 4 million years ago. In what way could they be said to be “dependent on the whole fabric for their very existence?” From an ant or a bee perspective, the extinction of Australopithecus before it could evolve into Homo sapiens might be considered a blessing. Forgetting even the massive campaign humans wage against social insects with pesticides, fire, habitat modification and mechanical traps, the current “bee crisis” in the world – a result not only of chemical poisons but of the transfer of exotic species of mites due to human trade - certainly underscores the point. As mentioned, looking at ecology from the perspective of an ant who is ready to inherit the earth from foolishly self-destructive humans was a device used by Don Marquis in 1935 in "The Life and Times of Archy and Mehitabel" and this environmental classic, published a generation before the word "environment" came into common usage, was used as a useful heuristic to open the arguments of The Environmental Handbook and the First National Envioronmental Teach-In in 1970. It helped the last generation's environmentalists decenter Homo sapiens and show that we were dependent on the rest of life, not the other way around. But we have to be careful what we mean by "the rest of life"? Do we mean every other species with whom we share the planet? The conclusions that are spun from this insight of human embeddedness in the life support systems of the earth are logically inconsistent. Somehow the ecosystem model insight that "man needed nature but nature did not need man" got confused with the Edenic model's doctrinal separation of man and nature and the belief that man's wickedness resulted in his expulsion from the Garden. The mix of the two inspired a desire by many would-be environmentalists to throw humans out of the entire ecosystem. This view became epitomized by the rhetoric of Earth First founder Dave Foreman who is infamous for quotes such as
“We advocate biodiversity for biodiversity’s sake. It may take our extinction to set things straight... Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental”-- Dave Forman, Founder of Earth First!
The paradox is that those who argue that the world of “nature” would be better off without human beings (“after all”, they argue, “the earth did fine without us”) must also logically agree that nature could be equally better off without bees, or ants, or whales, or bears. And then we must ask, “better off for whom?” To maintain an argument that human beings by their very nature are the problem you have to see human beings as separate from nature, not part of it. This contradicts the ecosystem model and certainly contradicts Earth First! Journal editor John Davis’ statement that “Human beings, as a species, have no more value than slugs.” If human beings have no more value than they certainly can have no less. In the great equalization of a biocentric universe, if humans are seen as a part of nature, yet nature was or would be better off without us, then we must agree that nature can also do fine or be improved without certain others of her “parts”. If human beings are part of nature and it is agreed that we can get rid of humans to improve nature, why not get rid of wolves too? Even the Objectivists, whose central tenet is that reality exists independently of human consciousness, legitimately ask who or what can set “value” in biocentric circles; valid concepts and values are, as Ayn Rand wrote, "determined by the nature of reality, but to be discovered by man's mind" (see Rand, 1986). On the other hand, if anthropocentrism is correct and human beings are not part of nature, then we must agree that humans do not need all of nature in order to survive, merely that subset that keeps their biophysical processes going and which are ever more deeply explored by humans living for ever extended periods on the space station. Either way humans who want to protect nature at the expense of human beings must ask themselves which species they are defending and why?
One of the problems is semiotic. There is a danger in taking literally the use of synecdoche and other forms of metalepsis in our thinking about nature. The part is not the whole, and can not stand in for the whole, and the whole is always greater than and never less than the sum of its parts. Despite Albert Szent-Györgyi von Nagyrapolt’s (Nobel prize for Medicine in 1937) popular metaphor of biological systems being like a “swiss watch” and Ehrlich’s Law: "The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts ", the metaphor is not the reality. Nature is what it is with or without any of its parts – i.e. when the earth was devastated by meteor collisions and ice ages what remained was still "nature". What we are trying to conserve is never nature itself, but our social construction of nature. Critics of conservation will snort “99% of all the species that ever existed on the earth have gone extinct, extinction is a natural process, a few more extinctions isn’t going to have any impact at all.”They never quite clarify what it is that these extinctions won’t have an impact on, though the implication is human society. The problem is that they can never be sure, and that is where the precautionary principle comes in.
What is Natural? Reproducing, being born, eating, being eaten, excreting, growing, reproducing, enlarging and defending territory, decaying, dying, evolving, going extinct, adapting yourself to your surroundings, adapting your surroundings to yourself – all organisms are locked in a co-evolutionary arms race and a struggle against predation (by bacteria, viruses, parasites and other micro-predators as well as macro-predators) and loss of vitality (through unavailability of food energy and somatic building materials or energy for thermoregulation and extrasomatic building materials) and senescence. This is about all the ecosystem model can tell us. YOU NEED TO CITE A SOURCE AND TO DEVELOP THE ARGUMENT MORE. IT DOES NOT FLOW LOGICALLY FROM THE PRECEEDING PARAGRAPHS. WITHOUT SUCH EXPANSION OF THE IDEAYOUR LAST PARAGRAPH DOES NOT FORM A BRIDGE BETWEEN SECTIONS BUT POINTS OFF THE PAGE IN A NEW (ALBEIT UNDEVELOPED) DIRECTION
B. Production – Technology and Its SocioEconomic Relations
"In 1958, the economist J. K. Galbraith referred to overconsumption as the unasked question of the American conservation movement. There is a marked selectivity, he wrote, 'in the conservationist’s approach to materials consumption. If we are concerned about our great appetite for materials, it is plausible to seek to increase the supply, to decrease waste, to make better use of the stocks available, and to developsubstitutes. But what of the appetite itself? Surely this is the ultimate source of the problem. If it continues its geometric course, will it not one day have to be restrained? Yet in the literature of the resource problem this is the forbidden question. Over it hangs a nearly total silence.' (quoted in Guha, 1989:83) 
In a false reading of Environmentalism Past, Environmental Degradation has been attributed by “environmentalists” to technology en soi rather than to overconsumption. The myth of environmentalists as anti-technological neo-Luddites owes much to the 1975 popular fiction novel “The Monkey Wrench Gang” by Edward Abbey, but this heir to the Kantian and Swedenborgian romantic-transcendentalist traditions of Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose 1836 essay “Nature” started the New England movement that included Henry David Thoreau’s Walden , (as well as the works of Margaret Fuller, Bronson Alcott, Orestes Brownson, William Ellery Channing, Frederick Henry Hedge, Theodore Parker, and George Putnam) is not characteristic of the environmental movement allegedly started by Rachel Carson. In fact, as P.A. Hay (2002) argues "the environmental movement proceeds from essentially non-romantic values." (Italics mine)
To get the characteristic of an “an environmentalist” and his/her relationship to technology we really should look to the role models whose works led the movement. Just as many define the characteristics of a Muslim by his conformity to ways of the founder Mohammed, we should see how those whose writings replicated framing views of environmental relations perceived things and define environmentalists by conformity with those viewpoints. To judge the movement by actions of Abbey’s fictional Luddite Hayduke is distortive. Rachel Carson was a scientist whose entire enterprise depended on sophisticated technology. The Club of Rome was made up of scientists, bussiness people, industrialists and politicians. Even Eco-Anarchists such as Derrick Jensen, Murray Bookchin (who coined the term "liberatory technology" in a 1965 essay; see Atkinson 2004) , John Zerzan and Daniel Quinn are not anti-technological, but follow the “appropriate technology” or “soft technology” path favored by economist E.F. Schumacher. In fact much eco-anarchist thought considers “hard path” technology to be barbaric “dinosaur” technology that lacks nuance and sophistication and is inappropriate for a sane modern life . This was certainly Rachel Carson’s perspective in the oft quoted closing paragraph to her book Silent Spring:
“The "control of nature" is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy, when it was supposed that nature exists for the convenience of man. . . . It is our alarming misfortune that so primitive a science has armed itself with the most modern and terrible weapons, and that in turning them against the insects it has also turned them against the earth.” 
The intimation of environmental scientists is that the world is being ruined by the blunt instruments of a primitive science and needs greater not lesser technological sophistication. Ron Milam, the founder of The Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition, whose headquarters resides at the Los Angeles Eco-Village, maintains that bicycles are a far more sophisticated form of technology than cars. In fact bicycle aficianado environmentalists are unapologetically technology obsessed as are ecovillage and permaculture ecoanarchists who speak lovingly and reverently of their space age photovoltaic panels, wind turbines and fuel cells. These attitudes all fall under the rubric of what Brian Martin (2000) calls "Liberation Science". Martin critiques the disempowering portrayal of the environmental movement as "anti" science, and gives plausible reasons for how the deeper critique posed by users of alternative technology got buried in the mainstreaming of media driven environmentalism.
Questioning of developments in science, although often effective, has been limited in one way: it is usually presented in negative fashion, namely as criticism of scientific developments. The radical science movement was very good at critique [Rita Arditti, Pat Brennan and Steve Cavrak (eds.), Science and Liberation (Boston: South End Press, 1980).] but not so good at promoting alternatives. There is a good reason for this: governments and corporations have vast resources, including money, employees and the ability to use coercion that they can use to promote developments of their choice. Citizens' movements do not have anything like these capacities…Governments can fund missile research, build missiles and arrest antiwar protesters. Corporations can fund computer research, build computers and take out patents and copyrights. The most obvious response for citizens is to oppose unwelcome developments. The result is many movements that are primarily against something, such as land mines, ozone-depleting chemicals or genetically engineered crops. Acting against undesirable developments and demanding citizen input into decision making are extremely important. But it is also important to go beyond opposition and to promote alternatives. The project of "liberation science" needs to set its own agenda…One nice thing about promoting alternatives is that they include built-in critiques. The promoter of any technology is implicitly saying that it is worthwhile and more appropriate than other possibilities.
One of the great ironies of the co-option of the environmental movement is that at the same time as its citizen adherents have been cast as “anti-technology” its professional and academic practitioners have been reduced to technocrats whose supposed faith in environmental engineering technologies obscures the deeper political ecology of environmental degradation and injustice. Says Kroll,
Academic ecology most certainly became one of the conceptual cornerstones of mainstream environmentalism. But it was not a subversive ecology that questioned fundamental values of economics, consumer habits, and techno-scientific control. It represented an engineering mentality in which problems of waste, pollution, population, biodiversity and the toxic environment could be solved scientifically.
I believe that neither those who eschew technology nor those who have faith in its use to "man-age" our environment are the heirs of modern environmentalism (what I call here "environmentalism past). The polarized dualisms of pro and con, of tech boosters and tech revilers is a false dichotomy, as Martin Heidegger (1949) tells us in “The Question Concerning Technology” (p. 26) when he criticises the “stultified compulsion to push on blindly with technology or, what comes to the same thing, to rebel helplessly against it and curse it as the work of the devil.” Quite to the contrary, claims Heidegger, “ when we once open ourselves expressly to the essence of technology, we find ourselves unexpectedly taken into a freeing claim.”
To pursue blindly or to rebel against is the same species of intolerance and narrow sightedness. Environmentalists in the tradition of Carson, Schumacher, and Buckminster Fuller do neither and in fact are technologically positioned ahead of the curve. Even the Sierra Club’s outspoken David Brower, whom activistcash.com, a “consumer freedom group” calls “an antitechnology, anti growth fanatic” was no disbeliever in what Heidegger called the salvation properties of technology. His statement in the Los Angeles Times in 1992 that “all technology should be assumed guilty until proven innocent”, so reviled by his enemies, is never considered in light of the technologies he felt had been proven innocent. In fact Brower said in a speech in Australia in 1974
...there are patterns and patterns and patterns out in the wilderness, if you will, that we need to learn from, to get really efficient technology working in our favour.
This has always been the position of the most outspoken environmentalists during what Kay Milton “first wave” of environmentalism. It is found consistently in The Environmental Handbook of 1970. And it appears as a recurrent theme in the documentary film and best-selling environmental book "Design Outlaws on the Ecological Frontier" which contains the writings of and represents the views of such environmental "radicals" as Amory Lovins, Anthony Walmsley, Arthur Young, Brendan O' Reagan, Brian Danitz, Buckminster Fuller, Carol Franklin, Catherine Simon, Chris Zelov, Christopher Alexander, David Sellers, Douglas Adams, Duane Elgin, Edmund Bacon, Gail Vittori, James Wines, Jay Baldwin, Jean-Paul Polinere, John Allen, John Todd, Harold Cohen, Hazel Henderson, Hunter Lovins, Ian McHarg, Jaimie Lerner, Leslie Sauer, Mary Catherine Bateson, Mike Corbett, Paolo Soleri, Paul MacCready, Peter Calthorpe, Pliny Fisk, Steward Brand, Ted Nelson, Thomas Hughes, Tom Casey, Tony Gwilliam, and `William McDonough. Whether or not the leading environmentalists read Heidegger or not, they all seemed “summoned to hope” as the German philosopher would say, by the possibility of a time when “techne” will once again be a mode of aletheuinin, or “revealing”, when techne “belongs to bringing forth, to poiesis” and, as Humberto Maturana’s work suggests, when techne will, like the life it is patterned on, become autopoietic. Like Heidegger, most environmentalists attribute environmental degradation not to technology per se, but to its loss of autonomy as an object and its subordination to ordering as a “standing reserve” (Heidegger, op. cit., p. 17) The desire of power holders in industrial society to remove technology from its own essential and self revealing relationship to Being (with humans serving as the “shepherd of Being” rather than the “master of technology” p. 42) is what has caused the problem according to this worldview. Far from fearing technology has gotten “out of control” as the hegemonic reading of environmentalist positions on technology would have us believe, the implication of “liberation technology” and “appropriate technology” is that when technology becomes free from human mastery again, when it will no longer “stand there just so that it may be on call for a further ordering”, then humans will no longer be alienated from nature by technology because technology will be seen as what it really is, a part of nature, a part of Being that can participate in its own revealing.
Though this perspective is found in the writings of Environmentalism Past, it is not what was filtered through to the public by the hegemonic media. Instead we got a jumble of parables parasitically attached to the environmental perspective, from the ancient Hebrew Golem myth to a misread of Shelly’s Frankenstein (1818), Capek’s R.U.R.: Rossum’s Universal Robots (1921) and Asimov’s first "rogue robot" story Strange Playfellow (1940) that resulted in popular dystopian visions of the newly evolving machine ecology evident in films such as Blade Runner (1982) and Terminator (1984). These writings and films became allegories in the tradition of the Edenic model and the Greek myths of Pandora, Prometheus and Icarus, warning man not to “mess with nature”. Recent analyses of Frankenstein stories by Donna Harraway (1992) in “The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d Others” and by Kim Hammond (2004) in "Monsters of modernity: Frankenstein and modern environmentalism"  suggest an altogether different interpretation, more in line with Heidegger: we cannot resist “messing with nature” because we are part of nature’s mess, and Being reveals itself through us and the technology we shepherd into being. What is morally indefensible is not our assistance in bestowing life on a new being, cyborg or otherwise, but our irresponsibility in trying to control and order that new being, rather than working with it to see what it has to teach us. It is our hubris in thinking we should control Nature and then rejecting poeisis as “monstrous” when it refuses to obey us that gets us into trouble. When David Brower defends the precautionary principle and claims that “all technology is guilty until proven innocent” what he is suggesting is that the “law of unintended consequences” is always to be operant in the creation of a new being. We can not and should not try to control technology, for it will forever be out of our control. What we should do is assess whether or not we want to help birth beings into the world that might turn on us as they play out the logic of their own entelechy. Having made the decision to face the risks and proceed, we would rely on the time-tested selective advantages of cooperation and symbiosis between autonomous organisms and work constructively toward a Maynard Smith Evolutionarily Stable Strategy (ESS) of Kropotkonian "Mutualism" between us and our co-creations (the cyborg versions of what UC Berkeley geneticist Richard Goldschmidt called in the 1940's "hopeful monsters"). If we can't conceive of a cybernetic win-win scenario, Brower would have us apply the precautionary principle and avoid shepherding a given technology into being. This would be the only "control" we would assume to have over technology in the pursuit of intergenerational "strong sustainability" (as opposed to "weak" or "Solow-sustainability"; see Turner 1992), particularly given that future generations of human beings will be more and more integrated with their technology as cyborg beings (Harraway, op cit.) An extreme model of this approach to techne was adopted by the citizen’s of Samuel Butler’s 1872 utopian fiction Erewhon who kept most of their technology safely inert in their museum; this is actually a dystopian extreme that is not even advocated by today's neo-primitive environmentalists, such as John Zerzan, often called "the most extreme author on the planet", a man who stands "in the tradition of the Taoist sages, Diogenes, and Rousseau as the last of the great exponents of the unfettered wild man", yet who insists we should avoid idealizing pre-history. Zerzan, who believes our fall from grace did not occur with the advent of industrialism or even agriculture, but with but "in the embrace of symbolic culture, i.e., language, art, and number" nonetheless refrains from criticizing tool use as he endeavors to map out the path of "the future primitive":
The assertion is often made that there is a smooth continuum between the use of simple tools and the high-tech world of today, that there is no qualitative distinction that can be made anywhere along this line of development, no place to "draw a line" separating the positive from the negative. But my working hypothesis is that division of labor draws the line, with dire consequences that unfold in an accelerating or cumulative way. Specialization divides and narrows the individual, brings in hierarchy, creates dependency and works against autonomy. It also drives industrialism and hence leads directly to the eco-crisis.
Zerzan, like Heidegger, really merely wants to crack open the dialogue and get people thinking. He says,
"…in general the system has never exactly rewarded such oppositional, against-the-grain thinking. The culture of denial is very strong—think of how extremely little gets questioned in the dominant political discourse. Very hard to get published, very hard to break the monopoly of enforced ignorance. And yet reality, I think is starting to force an opening. We hear some, not many, but some voices who do confront the whole picture, its fundamental character…Technology has never been neutral, like some discreet tool detachable from its context. It always partakes of and expresses the basic values of the social system in which it is embedded. Technology is the language, the texture, the embodiment of the social arrangements it holds together. The idea that it is neutral, that it is separable from society, is one of the biggest lies available. It is obvious why those who defend the high-tech death trap want us to believe that technology is somehow neutral.
Zerzan, Brower and many other writers in the field of environmentalism are assuming the autopoietic nature of nonhuman nature and trying to wake us up to conscious deliberation of the role technology plays in life.
It was the alleged defeat of autopoiesis through reductionism that gave Man the hubrus to believe he could "control"nature. Many, particularly eco-feminists such as Carolyn Merchant, have attributed this faith in Man's mastery over nature to Francis Bacon, but a closer reading of Bacon's works, particularly his expositions about science in "The New Atlantis" suggests that his philosophy is more in coherence with that of Heidegger when the latter asked,
"Is science… nothing but a fabrication of man that has been elevated to this dominance in such a way as to allow us to assume that one day it can also be demolished again by the will of man through the resolutions of commissions? Or does a greater destiny rule here? Is there, ruling in science, still something other than a mere wanting to know on the part of man?"
In Bacon’s APOSTROPHE “House of Solomon" the technology employed is modeled after nature to an extent that makes it almost indistinguishable from a natural creation. The New Atlantean tells his guest "
We imitate also motions of living creatures by images of men, beasts, birds, fishes, and serpents; we have also a great number of other various motions, strange for equality, fineness, and subtlety…We have three [scientists] that collect the experiments of all mechanical arts, and also of liberal sciences, and also of practices which are not brought into arts. These we call mystery-men. We have three that try new experiments, such as themselves think good. These we call pioneers or miners. We have three that draw the experiments of the former four into titles and tables, to give the better light for the drawing of observations and axioms out of them. These we call compilers. We have three that bend themselves, looking into the experiments of their fellows, and cast about how to draw out of them things of use and practice for man's life and knowledge, as well for works as for plain demonstration of causes, means of natural divinations, and the easy and clear discovery of the virtues and parts of bodies. These we call dowry-men or benefactors.
Then after divers meetings and consults of our whole number, to consider of the former labors and collections, we have three that take care out of them to direct new experiments, of a higher light, more penetrating into nature than the former. These we call lamps. We have three others that do execute the experiments so directed, and report them. These we call inoculators. Lastly, we have three that raise the former discoveries by experiments into greater observations, axioms, and aphorisms. These we call interpreters of nature. We have also, as you must think, novices and apprentices, that the succession of the former employed men do not fail; besides a great number of servants and attendants, men and women. And this we do also: we have consultations, which of the inventions and experiences which we have discovered shall be published, and which not; and take all an oath of secrecy for the concealing of those which we think fit to keep secret; though some of those we do reveal sometime to the State, and some not… We have certain hymns and services, which we say daily, of laud and thanks to God for His marvelous works. And forms of prayers, imploring His aid and blessing for the illumination of our labors; and turning them into good and holy uses…
In Bacon's world it is God, not the hubris of man, that is guiding the illumination or revealing of natural truths and their co-transformation into technologies, and these "subtle" technologies are judged by a kind of spiritual precautionary principle to ensure they have "good and holy uses", otherwise, given their autopoietic nature, they are kept as secret or unemployed as the machines in Butler's utopia. Heidegger concluded, and Bacon might have agreed,
"Thus it is, in fact. Something other reigns. But this other conceals itself from us so long as we give ourselves up to ordinary notions about science. "(op. cit. p. 156)
Heidegger's notion of Science as the "theory of the real" places it outside of human control and gives it back its function of revealing, similar to the ultimate goal of Bacon's House of Soloman. In this sense the self-revealing technology available to man through science regains a bit of its vitalism, and this puts certain technologies firmly on the side of Nature's resurrection rather than its demise. In fact, some have claimed that the root of the modern technologically-mediated environmental crisis lies in the defeat of the notion of vitalism:
"The defeat of Vitalism and the victory of Physicalism as the reductionist trend in modern science, reducing everything to physical and chemical forces, turned on a simple experiment that was credited with the defeat--the artificial synthesis of urea. Everyone who knows me knows the date--l828. I was thrilled when I stumbled on it. I thought: "urea, I found it"--the historical origins of the environmental crisis! Friedrich Woehler did it. He is known as the Father of Organic Chemistry where the word "organic" is identified with artificial synthesis, thereby undermining the argument in behalf of the integrity of organic nature and its independent distinction from inorganic nature--Vitalism."
The idea that you didn't need a kidney (a living, vital thing) to create urea but could obtain this powerful elixir from the simple heating of ammonium cyanate seemed to give man Frankenstein's symbolic power of life. It didn't occur to people in their jubilation to ask "from whence the ammonium cyanate?" any more than reader's of Frankenstein ponder the question "isn't science the application of Natural Law? Isn't using electromagnetism to bring dead matter back to life working with Nature? How can you not work with nature?" For Muslim's the entire argument that is captured by what Hammond calls "Frankenfear" (fear of genetically modified foods, called "Frankenfoods", and other technological "monsters") is absurd. Their notion that "There is no God but God" precludes the danger of "man playing God" so deeply rooted in the Judeo-Christian mistrust of technology. For this reason an Islamic fatwah was passed this year permitting stem cell research. If man cannot even pretend to be God, there is no danger of man destroying God's creation – everything that happens is "Insha'Allah" – according to the "will of God." This was a common attitude toward science and art in the Rennaisance, during which a man of genius was said to be "endowed with God-given authority since his creative power derives from the creative power of God". But the split between religion and science that prevailed during the industrial revolution weakened the idea of God revealing through human art and artifacts, and the notion of "artificial" suddenly became synonymous with "unnatural". When vitalism collapsed with the production of "synthetic" urea, the hegemonic Christian world found itself staring in horror with confirmation at the inexorable nihilistic trend that led Nietzsche to declare "Gott ist Tot" . As Heidegger remarked,
"Into the position of the vanished authority of God and of the teaching office of the Church steps the authority of conscience, obtrudes the authority of reason. Against these the social instinct rises up. The flight from the world into the suprasensory is replaced by historical progress. The otherworldly goal of everlasting bliss is transformed into the earthly happiness of the greatest number. The careful maintenance of the cult of religion is relaxed through enthusiasm for the creating of a culture or the spreading of civilization. Creativity, previously the unique property of the biblical god, becomes the distinctive mark of human activity. Human creativity finally passes over into business enterprise." (p. 64)
A symbol of human excretory excess with magical properties, waste water of a deceptive golden aura, urea has fascinated humanity for millennia. It is said that ancient Romans had public fountains where one could bath in or gargle with urine, wealthy French women of the 19th century were known to have had ladies in waiting prepare baths of it for their beauty treatments, surgeons used its inherent sterility (an anomaly in biological waste products) to proclaim it suitable as a field wash for wounds, and to this day, in hi-tech Germany and India, yearly conferences are held proclaiming the wonders of "urine therapy" while major cosmetic companies use it as a prime ingredient in "youth restoring" skin crèmes (Armstrong 1945). Much modern technology implicated in environmental degradation also came out of the synthesis of urea, artificial fertilizer (synthetic urea is a high nitrogen) and plastics (poly-ure-thane) are merely two; high grade explosives are another. As Lee (2000) points out:
Take the urea experiment as the symbolic experiment of the rise and triumph of industrial society thanks to better living through chemistry and the products of the experimental laboratory. Monsanto is just around the corner with Agent Orange and Roundup. DDT is on the way. You know the list once the outlines of the late stage of the self-destruction of industrial society come into focus with Earth Day. From then on "organic" meant plastics--well, anyhow, artificial synthesis. Get it? Might as well start calling factories plants. "Where you going today, honey?" "Oh, down to the plant."
"For the chemistry of the living organism is fundamentally identical with that of the laboratory and the factory." J. Loeb
Well, if they can take an inch, there goes a mile and eventually the whole earth. The integrity of organic nature was undermined as a consequence of the refutation of Vitalism. Take my word for it. The organic was collapsed into the inorganic through artificial synthesis, because, after all, when you get down to it, things are just chemicals and physical forces in simple or complicated combinations.
But the undercurrents of what would become post-modern philosophy and a resurrection of the vital essence of all matter were always stirring beneath this mechanical reductionism because reductionism soon began to appear to many as reductio ad absurdum. Though "spontaneous generation" was disproved by Louis Pasteur in 1859, the experiments of Stanley Miller in 1953 to create the conditions of the primordial soup with a spark of Frankensteinian lightning revived the idea that life could spontaneously arise from inert matter on any planet with the right conditions. Speculations of Autopoiesis put the ghost back in the machine.
This is not trivial – a rereading of many alleged "technophobes", such as Herbert Marcuse, shows that very few of them actually loathed technology. What they loathed was any form of technology that promoted the dominating tendencies of power mad individuals and political groups and was embraced by society without reflection on the political and environmental consequences of the artifice. Feenberg, for example, looks at the legacy of those who fought against the dehumanizing tendencies of Fordism and Taylorism and finds many of them actually trying to recapture the original essence of the Greek term techne, in whose meaning was embedded the synergism between science, art and values that Plato spoke about in his Gorgias. For Plato (as for Bacon who followed him) techne always demanded a rationale or logos that necessarily included a reference to the good served by the art. Feenberg explains,
Marcuse argued that the health and well being of the objective world is in our hands, and our own survival and happiness depends on recognizing its potentialities rather than dominating it destructively. A postrevolutionary society could create a new science and technology which would achieve this goal and place us in harmony rather than in conflict with nature. The new science and technology would treat nature as another subject instead of as mere raw materials. Human beings would learn to achieve their aims through realizing natures inherent potentialities instead of laying it waste for the sake of power and profit…Implicit in this approach is a modern revival of the classical conception of techne. Technology is to be reconstructed around a conception of the good, in Marcuse's terminology, around Eros. The new technical logos must include a grasp of essences, and technology must be oriented toward realizing inherent potentialities. As Marcuse writes, "What is at stake is the redefinition of values in technical terms, as elements in the technological process. The new ends, as technical ends, would then operate in the project and in the construction of the machinery, and not only in its utilization" (1964: 232). Marcuse thus demanded the reversal of the process of neutralization by which formal rationality had been split off from substantive rationality and subserved to domination.
Many tools have been developed to adapt our environments to our needs and to adapt ourselves to our environments. Some are material goods but others are intangible: methods of research, analysis, and social organization. Such technologies have also a profound impact on our relation to nature. Many authors have blamed technology for our alienation from nature; a courageous few have pointed out how technology can bring people closer to nature. But since most people are taught to view technology as a material good, as "hardware" few discuss the "software" and the "wetware" that gives all machines their power. Software and wetware – ideas and human minds – are organizational "technologies" with tremendous impact. Even Game theory and Cost/Benefit analysis are technologies (themselves enhanced by advanced information processing technologies) that have been devised to help us to theoretically create arrangements in socioeconomic relations that can prevent the demise of a resource. But if we don't question the assumptions of these "soft technologies" and look only at the "dark satanic mills" written about by the allegedly technophobic William Blake, we will never see the devil in the technological details.
Frederic Engels, in looking for the causes of capitalism's destructive power, pointed out the startling changes technologies of production brought about in the late 18th century which precipitated the globalization of the environmental crisis, but he blames the machinery itself for transforming production, rather than seeing the memes behind the creation of "steam and the new tool making machinery":
Whilst in France the hurricane of the Revolution swept over the land, in England a quieter, but not on that account less tremendous, revolution was going on. Steam and the new tool-making machinery were transforming manufacture into modern industry, and thus revolutionizing the whole foundation of bourgeois society. The sluggish march of development of the manufacturing period changed into a veritable storm and stress period of production. With constantly increasing swiftness the splitting-up into large capitalists and non-possessing proletarians went on. Between these, instead of the former stable middle-class, an unstable mass of artisans and small shopkeepers, the most fluctuating portion of the population, now led a precarious existence...The new mode of production was, as yet, only at the beginning of its period of ascent; as yet it was the normal, regular method of production – the only one possible under existing conditions. Nevertheless, even then it was producing crying social abuses – the herding together of a homeless population in the worst quarters of the large towns; the loosening of all traditional moral bonds, of patriarchal subordination, of family relations; overwork, especially of women and children, to a frightful extent; complete demoralization of the working-class, suddenly flung into altogether new conditions, from the country into the town, from agriculture into modern industry, from stable conditions of existence into insecure ones that change from day to day. (The Development of Utopian Socialism)
But cybernetic theory reveals that it is not the machines themselves that control production, nor even the software or wetware running them. The intelligence is in the network – in the relationships inscribed in the relations between the various components of any cybernetic system. Modern ecology shows that emergent fields of organization create and are created by objects in relation to one another. This is where technology, as just another ontic expression of ontological being, can finally be revealed by the deprivileging of environmentalism as no more important than the humans who believe they have created it. Says Cronon,
“What Marx labeled “relations of production” might in an ecological context better be seen as relations of consumption, since all human labor consumes ecosystemic energy flows in the process of performing physiological and mechanical work. This has the consequence of seriously undermining Marx’s labor theory of value, in which commodities acquire their use value almost entirely from the human labor that workers contribute to their production. As Worster rightly argues, a more ecological understanding of human economy would almost surely have to assign a much larger role to nature in the creation of such use value. A corollary of this insight is that any given mode of production involves a host of nonhuman organisms whose labor, production, and reproduction is no less essential to human survival than the human labor on which Marx concentrated his attention. A mode of production is thus the set of relations among those human and nonhuman members of the larger ecosystem that play a significant role in maintaining and reproducing the economy and cultural life of a particular human group. With the term redefined in this way, we can watch people shift from one mode to another in order to trace with greater sophistication the processes Worster describes so well. As [Worster] says “The reorganization of nature, not merely of society, is what we must uncover.” Cronon, journal of amer. Histo. 1125. ) WHY REFERENCE USING THIS STYLE WHEN YOU HAVE USED A DIFFERENT STYLE PREVIOUSLY?
If there is one great insight to pull from the ecosystem model of Nature it is that nothing is unnatural and all is Nature. The hand is technology, the jaw and the paw are technology, animals are the machines that Descartes believed them to be, but machines have anima within them too. Embedded in this insight is the implicit realization that all matter communicates through exchanges and transformations of energy and that what controls these exchanges are the logics of relations, not the entities engaged in those relations. In other words, as the systems theory of Gregory Bateson made obvious,
"To want control is the pathology! Not that the person can get control, because of course you never do... Man is only a part of larger systems, and the part can never control the whole...
Viewed this way all the distinctions and "progress" markers along the road of orthogonal interpretations of history, with technology written in during the last act as some new Faustian arrival on the scene, seem to be merely phantoms from some bad dream. Through the acoustic lensing of the ecosystem model Bruno Latour's (1993) cry that "We have never been modern" reverberates hauntingly. We seem rather to be merely transforming ourselves and our environments in the true niche constructivist fashion of any other unthinking organism, with an end point so beyond our comprehension that it defies description. As Cronon concluded,
“Environmental historians have most commonly relied on the anthropologists distinction between hunter-gatherer and agricultural societies, with capitalism usually added as a rather awkward third term to the set… Worster argues “the modes of production are an endless parade of strategies, as complex in their taxonomies as the myriad species of insects thriving in the canopy of a rain forest or the brightly colored fish in a coral reef.” But if there are so many thousand of modes, what analytical force remains in them? Marx’s goal of constructing a theory tracing a general transition from something called feudalism to something called capitalism inevitably does violence to the diverse complexity of ecological (and historical) reality… By making it so easy for us to use a single phrase to label a large, complex and often contradictory system, mode of production can tempt us into thinking that we have analyszed that system when we have not even described it satisfactorily… rather than start with the system as a whole, as mode of production would have us do, we should start, (like modern ecologists) with relationships. ” P. 1125 THIS QUOTE IS 11 PT
C. Cognition -- The Mental Realm of Ideas, Ethic, Myths and So On.
The power of relationships and their effect on creation and destruction are nowhere more obvious than in the human mind, where logical relations of syntax and grammar govern and channel the power of imagination. In our Christian mythology we believe that Logos, the word, the thought, came first and creation followed. In our reality we now see that how we think about nature drives how we behave within it.
To quote Bateson again,
"The myth of power, is of course, a very powerful myth; and probably most people in this world more or less believe in it... But it is still epistemological lunacy and leads inevitably to all sorts of disaster... If we continue to operate in terms of a Cartesian dualism of mind versus matter, we shall probably also come to see the world in terms of God versus man; élite versus people; chosen race versus others; nation versus nation and man versus environment. It is doubtful whether a species having both an advanced technology and this strange way of looking at the world can endure...
The whole of our thinking about what we are and what other people are has got to be restructured. This is not funny, and I do not know how long we have to do it in. If we continue to operate on the premises that were fashionable during the Pre-Cybernetic era, and which were especially underlined during the Industrial Revolution, which seemed to validate the Darwinian unit of survival, we may have twenty or thirty years before the logical reductio ad absurdum of our old positions destroys us. Nobody knows how long we have, under the present system, before some disaster strikes us, more serious than the destruction of any group of nations. The most important task today is, perhaps, to learn to think in the new way."
Meme Theory (Dawkins, Blackmore TK DATES?), characterized in business circles as “The Idea Virus” (Godin, 2002) holds great theoretical promise for bridging the gulf between materialist and idealist conceptions of the environment and helps us to think in this new way. Positing the idea of “units of self-replicating culture via biological intermediaries” that are subject to many of the same conditions of selection (“natural” and “artificial”) as genes (units of self-replicating chemistry via a biological intermediary) gives holistic strength to the “nature-nurture” dialectic, ensuring that both can operate within the same materialist universe according to its internal (idealist?) logic. There thus need not be two systems. Cognition can be seen as an evolutionary field of competing and cooperating memes, a virtual ecology of memes, which sometimes help and sometimes hinder their genetically constrained bearers to survive, but which, in any case, can live without their hosts so long as somewhere in time they can be replicated in yet another mind. In this way memes, disembodied from biology (in books or other media) can maintain themselves dormantly, not unlike dormant viruses, to be reawakened the next time a conscious entity takes them in. If the net effect of any meme or meme system is to drive the thinker extinct, the meme itself, if fixed in some durable medium, cannot be said to be extinct unless there can never be any other minds to appropriate and replicate the meme. And those media need not be human (animal trainers who have observed their non-human pupils teach others of the same species a human trick, as happens frequently with sign language speaking chimpanzees ("Project Loulis") and artifact using cetaceans, have much experience with the non-human transmission of human cultural memes) . In this way ideas can persist even when they are completely contrary to a species survival.
Most people would find the concept of a meme that could drive humanity extinct yet still survive risible because they don’t take the lessons of Darwin, Morgan, Huxley etc. seriously enough, and still operate under the teleological assumption that “man is all there is” – the end point or apogee of evolution. However as Marx and others stressed, other intelligences may yet evolve, and not necessarily from our own stock (this has been posited as another reason for preserving biodiversity, so as not to inhibit further co-evolution of living organisms and their systems which might one day become endowed with complex intelligence.). In the case of evolution of non-human intelligences it is quite possible that a meme for human extinction may survive the human race. We must certain all agree that the idea of "suicide bombing" and other forms of self-destructive terrorism and martyrdom persist and even grow in potency despite their perpetrators winning the proverbial "Darwin Award" for wiping their alleles out of the gene pool. This suggests that memes can be selected for at the expense of genes.
In any event, memes are powerful, often more so than the genes that built the brains that transmit them. Thus, cultural constructions of reality, often considered “fantasy” can have more impact on human behavior than material constructions of reality – a point that Amartya Sen takes pains to point out (although in much different language) when he stresses the counter-Maslovian point that it is more important for many third world people to have freedom and dignity than reliable food or other material comforts or needs met. It also explains the success of evolutionarily paradoxical acts of self sacrifice or altruism that cannot be explained away with reference to kin selection.
"Environmentalism" as a meme has been mutating and evolving, morphing to suit the "zeitgeist" (the spirit of the times) and the "raumgeist" (the spirit of a place). From the early conservation movement of Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot to the Preservation movement of John Muir and the Sierra Club to the first wave of the modern environmental movement following post world war II disillusionment with the effects of world modernization, environmentalism has come to mean many things to many people. But by subjecting the "social construction of nature" (and all cognitive models of reality) to the logic of evolutionary theory, ecological theorists have (temporarily?) escaped the post-modern trap of absurd relativism that followed in the wake of post-structuralism and the French school of Semiotics which began to jumble the signifier and the signified. They have resurrected Charles Sander's Pierce's "referent" – the reality behind the signified and let natural selection be the arbiter between our description of reality and reality itself. Paul Ryan has developed a semiotic methodology (see http://earthscore.org) based on the work of Pierce, Bateson and Rappaport to help us do this. He starts with the premise that,
"Through a combination of erroneous epistemology and advanced technology, humans are destroying the environment that supports their life (Bateson 1987:496ff)
To correct this, Ryan has developed a notational system, called Earthscore,
"that makes full cybernetic use of Pierce's entire phenomenological and semiotic system, as well as models from catastrophe theory (Ryan 1993:379ff.). Based on this notation I have designed an environmental television channel dedicated to monitoring the ecology of a region for the people that live there so they can develop sustainable policies and practices (1993:243ff.). Actually built, such a system would, in effect, provide a canon for sustainability. (Ryan 1993)
Using the assistance of cybernetic systems and astropanoptical monitoring technologies it is felt that self-evident truths will emerge that were hidden from human minds before we had these new support and feedback systems that open semiotic systems previously cached within the human mainframe to external processing. There is a growing body of theory in the neurobiological field that describes cognitive development as akin to the growth of a rainforest, with dendrites growing like trees and vines, creating ever more robust trunklines for information whenever they make the right connections, connections that conform to adaptive perceptions of the outside world, and getting pruned back or decaying whenever they make connections that reinforce false perceptions of the world. Since much of that world is mediated through social reinforcement, false ideas can still be reinforced. But when other cybernetic systems of evaluation (particular those of other cultures and, most revealingly, those of the cognitive processing capabilities of other animals and, lately, machines) are involved in nurturing or pruning back the neural associations that build our environmental maps, over evolutionary time, exogenously reinforced memes tend to come into closer and closer alignment with reality until our consensual reality, described by signifiers passed from brain to brain and from brain and on to logic-processing AI and back, matches the true referents. As with GPS error correction systems, triangulation on the target from as many different perspectives as possible improves resolution. The more processors working on the map, the better it is. One is reminded of the three blind men trying to describe an elephant. The difference in the world of human-decentered cybernetics is that finally the elephant gets to speak too. Environmental history, read this way, should give us some truths about our relationship with nature and inform an environmentalism (environmental movement) that, while allowing for sampling errors, still eventually follows the transect line of reality.
Donald Worster is one of those environmental historians who tries to bring such evolutionary insights into his work. He says
"There is little history in the study of nature and there is little nature in the study of history. I want to show that we can remedy that cultural lag by developing a new perspective on the historian's enterprise, one that will make us Darwinians at last."
Environmentalism, Evolution and Environmental Determinism
There was an earlier use of the term "environmentalism" that, on the surface, seemed to carry a completely different meaning from what we now call environmentalism but which, in light of this "Darwinian" view of environmentalism, may actually turn out to be but one facet of the same conceptual diamond. Early environmentalism was defined as the notion that the environment has a greater effect on human thought and behavior than instinct (later described as "genetic determinism") (Blaut 1999). Environmentalism was thus part of the early "nature versus nurture" debate and in this debate environment represented "nurture" rather than "nature".
“Environmentalism”, before it came to take on its post-Earth Day connotation, referred to a materialist philosophy of quite some veneration. As described by Engels, the teaching of the materialistic philosophers was “that man’s character is the product, on the one hand, of heredity; on the other, of the environment of the individual during his lifetime, and especially during his period of development.” The early "Environmentalists" gave the environment the starring role in creating this product, and thinkers such as Buffon went so far as blame climate for the abilities of entire racial groups of people (see Grove, Green Imperialism for details of Buffon's views). Even today there has been a resurgence in this form of environmental determinism: “… commonly, environmental history has been subsumed under various environmental determinist approaches (Diamond, 1997; Jones, 1987; Landes, 1998), with some combination of climate and topography offered as major factors in the “rise of the West” says Moore (2002). But a different kind of environmentalism as environmental determination that takes into account the relations between production and consumption set against an ecological field and is more indicative of today’s complex environmental debate may have more strength than one that merely focuses on climate, topography and other physical factors. The memetic "environment" (i.e. "culture" and assumptions about relations) can also determine the way people develop.
“ In the long-running debate over the transition from feudalism to capitalism, only rarely have we glimpsed medieval Europe’s socio-ecological contradictions. Probably Immanuel Wallerstein (1974) went furthest, crafting his account of the 14th century crisis around the notion of a “socio-physical conjuncture” (p. 35). In Wallerstein’s hands, modern relations of capital and class shaped, and in turn were shaped by, transformations of the earth… An alternative approach, one that develops and extends the implications of Wallerstein’s notion of feudalism as a socio-physical conjuncture, might shed some light on why feudalism gave way to capitalism.” (Moore, 2002, p. 301)
In the long interplay of genes, memes and external realities, we can now read all environmentalisms as attempts by cognitively functioning beings to form more faithful mental maps of their surroundings based on past sensory inputs and idea structures, coded in memories, and used to predict adaptive responses to changing environments. Since there is a tightly coupled feedback between environments and organisms through natural selection, environments affect the genes and memes that move about through and partially constitute them. Broadly speaking "Environmentalism", Past, Present or Future, really describes the movement of ideas and the bodies that carry them as they change and co-evolve with the environments they inhabit, affect and in turn are affected by. All environmentalism implies an attempt by the organism to either adapt to its environment or adapt the environment to it.
Environmentalism as Adaptation through Natural Selection
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable. -- George Bernard Shaw
"Well… the scientists tell me man will adapt…” -- President Ronald Reagan, defending his reversals of environmental policy.
Organisms have always had to respond and adapt to crises in their relevant environments, some exogenous and some endogenous. Of the endogenous factors, overpopulation has always led to die-back due to constraints captured by the scientific construct of "carrying capacity" and although "group selection" has been mostly discredited (Hamilton 1964 Williams 1966 , Trivers 1971 Wilson 1975 , Dawkins 1979) and although we know that most organisms do not regulate their population willfully (Sober and Wilson 1998), some stresses induced by population size have been observed to reduce fecundity in a fair number of organisms or result in higher incidents of disease that reduce population size ( for classic discussions of density dependent intrinsic population control theory see Howard and Fiske 1911, Smith 1935, Selye 1956 and May 1973, for the effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on fecundity see Apodaca and Matessich 1997, for a discussion of Gunter Dorner’s work on stress and homosexuality as an evolutionary adaptive response see Hunter 1994 and Morrison,1999, for disease see Lafferty and Holt 2003). It is also fair to say that all organisms foul their own nests in some way or another, though over time what game theory calls “evolutionarily stable strategies” (ESS) for dealing with self-imposed crises are selected ‘for’ rather than 'against' (Maynard Smith 1982). Adaptive density-dependant behaviors have evolved in many organisms. Thus cats and dogs and other den-dwelling or high density species now have an instinctive predisposition for depositing their wastes away from their living space and/or for burying them. Primates (monkeys, apes and humans) on the other hand, with long histories evolving in a three dimensional arboreal environment, are particularly difficult, if not impossible to toilet train and are notoriously messy eaters (Gardner and Gardner 1969 and other primotologists attempting to raise chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas in human households had to resort to diapers for the duration of the pongids' lives). It is assumed that this is because the forest floor assimilated their wastes for millions of years without them ever being affected by or having to be concerned with fecal material. In fact defecating underneath one's living environment would have been adaptive as it would recycle nutrients into the support structures that provided nutrition, travel and nesting opportunities. For primates "littering" may also have been adaptive for the same reasons – from the perspective of forest structure any food consumed should not be completely eaten, nor deposited in one location. To be dispersed properly, seeds should be scattered about with nutrient-containing rinds and other plant parts as well as generous amounts of feces and urine in the "leaf litter"; this insures that the forest structure develops in a healthy fashion without a paucity or over concentration of any nutrients or seeds in any given location. Thus, from an evolutionary perspective, for forest creatures littering makes absolute sense! This is a historical truth that few policy makers even consider. Policy and governance are mostly predicated on Lockian "environmentalist" (in the early sense of the word) assumptions -- "tabula rasa" or "nurture" assumptions about human nature (though these assumptions sit uneasily on the Hobbsian "determinist" bedrock assumption of capitalist philosophy that humans are basically greedy, self-interested organisms.) The sociobiological insights of ethologists such as Desmond Morris (The Naked Ape, People Watching), Konrad Lorenz, Wolfgang Kohler, Niko Tinbergen and E.O. Wilson ("Sociobiology: The New Synthesis" and "On Human Nature") are ignored in environmental policy and analysis, where most explanations for the human tendency to "pollute" are grounded in economic theory and its obsession with "market failure". There is a pedigree of ideational reluctance to consider Wilson's Sociobiology or the Mendelian inheritance of social predispositions among policy makers – what we might call a form of Western neo-Lysenkoism. Perhaps this is a result of a perceived association of sociobiology with Nazi eugenic ideology, or an impoverished background among social scientists in animal behavior or a stubborn refusal to let go of either the secular Cartesian split between man and nature or the religious division between divinely ensouled Man and specially created and immutable animals. Whatever the etiology, policy makers are loathe to consider that our social organization and the design and management of the built environment are actually the product of millions of years of evolution with many hard-wired predispositions that can only be addressed by either changing the magnitudes and qualities of factor inputs and outputs to match transformation and assimilation rates of the biosphere (as Industrial Ecologists such as Wann, Hawken, Lovins, or McDonough would have us do) or change human nature through the eugenics of breeding, artificial selection or genetic engineering. Hard nosed sociobiologists believe that we must either consciously adopt one of these strategies (favoring self regulation of our impacts through population control and "green" factors of production) or we must wait for "natural selection" to eliminate behavioral complexes that are now maladaptive and reduce our fitness – a risky strategy that could involve our extinction alongside that of our "unfit" behaviors. The bottom line for species with arboreal histories in environments of high nutrient turnover rates, such as birds and primates, is that littering makes sense. Disposal by dispersal of all waste products into the environment feels right. Even defecation in the water supply makes sense at a low population density – in the forests of Indonesia it was the habit of the Melayu people to defecate in their streams, attracting fish who would eat the feces and who then could be speared and themselves eaten. Even today there are roadside restaurants in Sumatera and Java where the bathrooms are situated over fish ponds next to or under a restaurant from which fish are caught to feed the restaurant patrons. Nobody seems to mind the fact that the fish are feeding on human excrement. Similarly, among the Dyak people of Borneo toilets are built over the family pig pen. Excrement feeds the pigs which are in turn eaten by the Dyak. As Buckminster Fuller reminded us time and again, pollution is simply the right substance in the wrong place and time.
Given that human beings have been nomadic for nearly 100,000 years and only began to settle down for any length of time in the last 10,000 (with the vast majority remaining nomadic until quite recently – from 5,000 to 15 years ago), it is hard to see how populations of people for whom littering was advantageous could quickly develop strong predispositions for learning to "dispose of wastes properly" when the rules of the game have changed so recently. In fact, with the exception of inorganic materials and chlorinated hydrocarbons that cannot be assimilated into the environment, it may be that concentrating wastes in specific locations is the greatest part of the environmental problem. Certainly the ecology of soil fertility is reliant on the constant distribution of “littered” nutrients being recycled back into the entire soil profile. When people started concentrating those nutrients elsewhere by exporting foodstuff and materials from the countryside to the city and then flushing the residuals as human excrement and urban waste into the rivers to be buried in sediments, they precipitated one of the most intransigent and persistent environmental problems we face today. This policy of "exporting nutrients" can also be seen as responsible for much of the damage done by imperialism. Marx and Engels were not the first to point this out, but may have been the most vocal, though with the exception of John Bellamy Foster few scholars seem toemphasize this aspect of their early work.
Part of the problem in recognizing how human beings can solve many of their ecological problems by designing systems in coherence with human nature may be that many environmental historians operate from within the Edenic Model of Savage Model rather than the Ecosystem Model, despite pretensions of allegiance to a scientific worldview. A quick look at some of the titles in the Environmental History literature (representative and by no means exhaustive) confirms this suspicion: Carolyn Merchant's Reinventing Eden: The Fate of Nature in Western Culture and The Death of Nature, Evan Eisenberg's Ecology of Eden and Bill McKibben's The End of Nature, Samuel Hays' Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency, Leo Marx's The Machine in the Garden, John Passmore's Man's Responsibility for Nature, Paul Shepard's Man in the Landscape: A Historic View of the Esthetics of Nature, A.O. Lovejoy's The Great Chain of Being, Henry Smith's Virgin Land, Clarence Glacken's Traces on the Rhodian Shore, Janet Browne's The Secular Ark: Studies in the History of Biogeography W. William Weeks' Beyond the Ark: Tools for an Ecosystem Approach to Conservation, and Charles Mann and Mark Plummer's Noah's Choice: The Future of Endangered Species, Joan Didion's Slouching Toward Bethlehem, Donald Worster's The Ends of the Earth, Rene Dubos' Wooing of Earth, John McPhee's The Control of Nature, William Beinart and Peter Coates' Environment and History: The Taming of Nature in the USA and South Africa and Roderick Nash's The Rights of Nature all reveal a perception of an "othered" Nature that stands as a lost Eden in opposition or contrast to "the human world" or as a savage, wild, dangerous, irrational (often female and of color) adversary to the (typically white male) enlightenment project . These works stand in stark contrast to Ecosystem Model based titles such as Stephen Schneider and Randi Londer's The Coevolution of Climate and Life, Richard White's The Organic Machine, or Richard Grove's Ecology, Climate and Empire.
The Edenic and Savage Models bias authors to see environmental history as a typically moral history of battles and oppressions instead of mere transformations. This is not necessarily a bad thing from a policy perspective, particularly in narratives about the European colonialist expansion, told in such books as Alfred Crosby's The Columbian Exchange: biological and cultural consequences of 1492 and Ecological Imperialism, Kenneth Kiple's The Caribbean Slave: A Biological History, William Dufty's Sugar Blues and Sidney Mintz's Sweetness and Power, John Mackenzie's Empire of Nature: Hunting, Conservation and British Imperialism, Richard Grove's Green Imperialism and Ecology, Climate and Empire, Elinor Melville's A Plague of Sheep: Environmental Consequences of the Conquest of Mexico, and other liketitles. It is certainly the prerogative of beneficiaries or losers of the biological and cultural expansion of Middle Earth (Europe and the Middle East) to frame their historical experience in moral terms. In the post Columbian exchange literature the suffering of conquered people's and mourned losses of ecosystem services, landscape aesthetics and unique species by both conquerors and conquered are recorded. The difficulty emerges when applying this lens to prehistoric or preliterate cultures and their interactions with their environments. Very often the argument is made in the literature of Environmentalism Past that either the "primitive" people were living in "greater harmony" with "Nature" than we do (typified as a "Rousseauian" or "Noble Savage" concept), or they were "just as bad as us" with the caveat that they simply couldn't do as much damage because of their small population size (see Krech III 1999, Ellingson 2001, Meek 1976, Wrone and Nelson Jr. 1982).
Eugene O'Neill wrote, "Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace." Were things really better in the "Edenic" past? Or was population pressure simply too low to make a difference? From the perspective of the Ecosystem Model this may be begging the question. If population pressure was too low and the forms and impacts of technology too weak or localized to harm or compromise ecosystem services, then in terms of nature's fecundity and buffering services things really were better. If people, behaving in as exploitive and unthinking (natural? Instinctive?) fashion as possible were nonetheless unable to deprive a substantial number of other beings of the chance for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and were not increasing the extinction rate, for those beings we would certainly have to say that things were better. If, for whatever reason, non-participants in the Industrial Market System did not increase their population or change their technology or practices so that they could have a larger impact on biodiversity and ecosystems – though we know from studies such as Eric Wolf's "Europe and the People without History"(1982) that they were certainly aware of and interacted with the hegemonic world system for thousands of years, and with its Western industrial manifestation of that system since its inception – then I think we must agree that they were different (at least in their cultural orientation toward accumulation) and give at least some credence to the reports and affidavits of explorers whose descriptions of the "carefree lives of the natives" inspired the Noble Savage myth in the first place. If the lesson for Europe was "the path to eutopia lies in keeping your population low and using low impact technologies despite or as a complement to your great erudition" that would be enough. Certainly the many utopian novels that appeared since the global expansion – from Thomas More's Utopia of 1516 and Francis Bacon's New Atlantis of 1626 to Hertka's "Freeland" of 1886 and Chayanov's "Journey's with my Brother Alexi" of 1920 to Aldous Huxley's Island of 1969 and Ernest Callenbach's Ecotopia of 1977 speak to this lesson. It then doesn't really matter much what the moral differences were between "us" and "them" – the role model comes from the ecosystem model – can human impact be made to be benign?
In the Ecosystem model of natural history most Environmental problems are seen as a matter of RATE, not morality. Even one of the most morally attuned leaders of the shift of consciousness that characterizes Environmentalism Past, the economist E.F. Schumacher, identified much environmental degradation as a rate problem rather than an ethical issue in his classic book Small is Beautiful and he used this perspective to create the field known as "appropriate technology". He explained why the use of fossil fuels during and after the industrial revolution upset the possibility of equilibrium between man and natural processes stating that fossil fuels should be conceived us as Capital and renewable energy as income. Capital, particularly natural capital, he warned, should always be invested, used to create infrastructure, that helps us capture income. Using the example of a lawn mower engine that burns gasoline Schumacher pointed out the unsustainable nature of cutting the grass: we use millions of years of stored and concentrated sunlight to fight the growth of a plant that has used at most a week or so of sunlight (at only 3% efficiency) to gain its extra inch. Schumacher likened it to tapping into your savings account to get a ridiculously expensive haircut. He said you should use your income for periodic maintenance activities, never your savings. Furthermore, the huge amounts of oxidized carbon molecules spewed forth when we burn fossil capital are way out of proportion with the rate that growing grass can transform them into carbohydrates, leading to a net atmospheric carbon increase that creates health and climate problems.
One of the most profound difficulties in dealing with environmental problems past is that before the industrial revolution, when massive quantities of heavy elements with toxic and radiological properties and new "synthetic" compounds were brought into the biosphere, and before we began the huge project of oxidizing all of the earth's sequestered carbon, each disturbance had effects that were merely rate dependent and local. To give a banal example, if a bear defecates in the woods one morning next to your tent you may decide your environment has been polluted. You might find it intolerable to sit next to the bear dung until it is broken down. You might complain that you have an environmental problem on your hands. But if you are away fishing for the day, by the time you return to the campsite insects, fungi, bacteria sunshine, wind and rain will have recycled the bear scat into nutrients for the ecosystem, rendering whatever you found noxious into quite inoffensive raw materials. You could no longer conclude that bear dung was an environmental problem. And As Kathleen Meyer points out in her 1989 book How to shit in the woods: an environmentally sound approach to a lost art the same could be considered true of human defecation, something the Chinese "night soil" practice makes obvious. Similarly a disturbance such as a tree-fall or fire may be a disaster for the animals or plants who lose their lives or have them disrupted by the event, but for the pioneer species awaiting such an event to flourish, the calamity can be perceived as a boon, and for the system as a whole, as ecosystem fire-management and tree thinning literature attests, these events, which can provide timber and edge habitat for grazing that benefit humans, can also create sustainability.
Nonetheless, the Edenic model lurking in the heads of historians makes anthropogenic disturbance somehow seem unnatural, wrong, or even "evil". So the "exploitive" character of human interactions with their environment, and the "total disregard for ecology" that characterizes much of industrial society is mapped retrospectively onto pre-industrial peoples, whom, we are told, are not the good role models that environmentalists would like us to think they were. One of the "revelations" of modern environmental history is that green interpretations of native peoples were revisionist and that in fact they were NOT in "harmony" with their environment. Pleistocene hunters and gatherers are now held responsible for the extinctions of mammalian megafauna, such as the saber toothed cats and giant sloths and wooly mammoths featured in an uneasy truce with humanity in the popular animated film "Ice Age". Native Americans are credited (or blamed) for using fire and landscape management techniques to create the scenic beauty that John Muir and others extolled in Yosemite Valley and for driving more buffalo off of cliffs than they could possibly eat. Dyak tribesmen are known for chopping down entire old growth trees just to get honey from one bee hive. But this may be putting things backwards. Because by and large the ecosystems around these people and activities flourished, and the people themselves flourished, there must have been something "going right" that we can learn from. Let's forget for a moment the myth that "the people were in harmony with nature". Let's assume they could have cared less about "nature". The relevance of environmental history may be the reverse: what it teaches us about how the environment was in harmony with the people in it, and not the other way around! In other words, if it is true that all humans, primitive or modern, are alike in their predispositions, and if it is human nature to "litter" or "pollute" and "exploit", then environmental history teaches us that human beings are best served by an environment that accommodates this behavior by quickly and efficiently assimilating all residuals and rapidly reproducing the resources being consumed. The industrial and market environments of today unfortunately, are the entities that seem to be out of harmony with nature, and not just with "Mother Nature" but with human nature.
Cognitive Constructions of the Good and the Natural and their impact on survival
Anarchist theorists such as Kropotkin and Proudhon suggested that we are not so much alienated from Nature, with a capital N, but merely from our own nature. The myths we construct about what is "good" and "natural" and our place in "Nature" have a tremendous affect on our survivability, but even when they are maladaptive in the long run, they can persist for quite a long time. We ignore the power of myth and belief systems to shape society to our peril. For this reason, many authors are critical of attempts to take Hegel and Marx's dialectical and historical materialism too far when looking a environmental history and perceive the Ecosystem Model as too dismissive of the power of memes to create belief systems that have their own logic of fitness and survival.
Cronon, for example, worries about Worster’s “potentially excessive materialism”. He says,
“[Worster] calls for an approach that would begin with food and the ways people “create a mode of production” to get food 'from the earth and into their bellies.' Insofar as looking at food will encourage historians to reconstruct the intricate web of linkages between human beings and other organisms, I can only applaud such a strategy. But it is essential to remember that food, like nature, is not simply a system of bundled calories and nutrients that sustains the life of a human community by concentrating the trophic energy flows of an ecosystem; it is also an elaborate cultural construct. How and why people choose to eat what they do depends as much on what they think –about themselves, their relations to each other, their work, their plants and animals, their gods – as on the organisms they actually eat.” (Cronon 1990: 1124)
This reality is certainly confirmed by the million plus Irish who starved during the “Potato Famine” whose cultural construct of food in the environment precluded supplementation of their diet by other available sources of protein and lipids. The citizens of Oaxaca Mexico, for whom insectivory is an enduring tradition, now being commercialized, might not have fared as badly under similar restrictions, but insects and other invertebrates are not culturally constructed as food by the Irish, and so, in a sad echo of the Mariner’s Poem, the notion of “food food everywhere, but not a bite to eat” pertains here. Similarly, the schocker eco-film of 1973, Soylent Green, ends with Charlton Heston in a Malthusian nightmare where the oceans have finally died and the New York City population of 40 million is being recycled into nutrient biscuits, screaming to deaf or indifferent ears “you must listen to me, Soylent Green is made of people”. The film-makers intent is clear from the reaction of the masses – they are hungry, they could care less. As a counter to the Malthusian doom the argument is tacitly made “population can’t grow faster than food if the population IS the food”. Though the film starts with a popularization of Malthus’s hypothesis (“200 years ago, Malthus predicted that population would grow faster than food or materials that people need to survive) and is supposed to serve as an object lesson, it actually serves to prove only that Malthus was not speaking about real food, but of culturally constructed food. In any event, as Marx was wont to point out time and time again, Malthus pulled his notion of the geometric expansion of population versus the arithmetic expansion of “food” out of thin air. “Food”, insofar as it comes from “nature” or living organisms (a proposition that may not always be true) Marx wanted us to know, was also a population, and hence expanded geometrically unless socially or environmentally or technologically constrained. The irony that emerges from the ecosystem model is that social and technological constraints are environmental constraints. History is the story of organisms adapting to and striving to overcome those restraints, dialectically transforming the nature of those constraints in the process.
If we use the definition of environmentalism in its broadest sense - a concern about the impact human beings are having on their surroundings and the impact that changing surroundings are having on humans – then we must look at any event in history that raised such concern or created awareness as an environmental event. Once we accept the dialectical relationship of human beings and their environment, which Dobzhansky described in The Biological Basis of Human Freedom (1956) and Man Evolving (1962) as "the interplay between genetic endowment and environmental factors", noting that the genes produce an "internal" biochemical environment with which the "outside" must equally interact (this is the basis of Engels' reinterpretation of Hegel's dialectics) we note that environment, imaginatively and socially constructed in its broadest sense, is all there is ("outside" is environed by "inside" and vice-versa). Events such as the bubonic plague and the influenza pandemic of 1918 for example, were environmental events due to imbalances in metabolism (the notion of metabolic imbalance was a key insight of Marx and Engels) -- urban conditions and dense human populations created an unusually favorable situation for formerly forest and field dwelling rodents whose increased numbers were favourable for the life cycle of fleas who in turn were the best hosts for plague bacilli. To look at the plagues that devastated Europe, to say nothing of today's global AIDS problem, as anything other than an environmental problem would be absurd. As Rene Dubos wrote in Man Adapting (1965 :xvii) "the states of health or disease are the expressions of the success or failure experienced by the organism in its efforts to respond adaptively to environmental challenges." Searching for the etiology of a problem is important. Do we really need to try to assign "blame" though?
“Unable to trace the everyday consequences of environmental change induced by humans with the precision they would like, historians gravitate to disasters where the human impact is clear” (White, op cit. 1115)
In the dialectic metabolism of Marx and Engels every part of the system has an impact on every other, and it is pointless to keep trying to assign “blame” or assess "clear human impact" (as those who deny anthropogenic global warming strive to do). The ecosystem model asks us, rather, to accept that every event has multiple agents of causation and ask "what can we do about this?" Does it really matter if 10% of global warming is caused by “natural” climatic cycles and 90% by "human activity" or vice versa? The materialist fact is the impact global warming is having and will have on society and ecosystem. As conscious actors we must figure out what we can do to mitigate or prevent what we perceive to be the bad effects of climate change. Blame is for litigators (is it any wonder that America, the society of lawyers, is so concerned about “who is responsible” especially considering the differentially overwhelming amount of carbon American industries pump into the air?) Unless is carries with it some possibility of reparations, it is a useless exercise. In this regard perhaps climate change policy should reflect the Jubilee 2000 debt forgiveness policies proposed and simply forgive all past transgressions for issues too complex to work out specific impacts for, especially since many people have been beneficiaries of America and other industrialized nations’ use of fossil fuels in what is increasingly a “global village”. In a sense, carbon emissions trading schemes (covered in the next chapter) are a step in that direction.
On the other hand, many affected groups (Pacific islanders who hardly used any fossil fuels at all for example will have to be displaced) would rather not share the collective blame and costs for industrial nation's egregious disregard for the global environmental metabolism, and cry out for environmental justice, recognizing that most millionaires are and have been “robber barons” who stole their riches from disempowered fellows and grew wealthy by callously disregarding the consequences of their rapacious actions and the mess their improperly recycled metabolic waste products created. Political ecology teaches us that because of the power differentials between actors and the integrated nature of the global environment, disruptions of environmental services we tried to solve at home are duplicated away from home and are often created by the very economic fixes we instituted to improve our home environment. W.M. Adams writes:
“To an extent, concern for Third World environments simply reflects the growing integration of the global village, and environmentalist pressure is at least in part an extension of traditional concerns about environmental quality in that village’s countryside, in the Third World.”
The idea that every attempt to correct an environmental problem in one place creates another one somewhere else, whether by greed or negligence or simply due to the law of unintended consequences is an old one. Engels remarked,
"Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first. The people who, in Mesopotamia, Greece, Asia Minor and elsewhere, destroyed the forests to obtain cultivable land, never dreamed that by removing along with the forests the collecting centres and reservoirs of moisture they were laying the basis for the present forlorn state o those countries. When the Italians of the Alps used up the pine forests on the southern slopes, so careful cherished on the northern slopes, they had no inkling that by doing so they were cutting at the roots of the dairy industry of their region; they had still less inkling that they were thereby depriving their mountain springs of water for the greater part of the year, and making possible for them to pour still more furious torrents on the plains during the rainy season… Thus at every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside nature -- but that we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst, and that all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage of all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly” (Marx and Engels, Collected Works, vol. 25, 460-461, cited in Foster 2000, 235-236).
While Engels quote invokes the Law of Unintended Consequences so eloquently argued by Amartya Sen (1972, 1999), rational planners and the engineering school of environmental scientists believe the situation is different when you know what you are doing – backed by historical observation and empirical observations from an objective, not Lysenkoist, science.
Foster is particularly keen on this point:
“Human history, according to Engels, continually comes up against ecological problems that represent contradictions in the human relation to nature; contradictions that can only be addressed by relating to nature through the understanding of nature’s laws, and thus organizing production accordingly."(Foster 2000:235)
The interesting paradox here is that this conceptual framework, assuming a fix to all our problems from an ever better understanding of nature's laws, not only takes us back to Bacon and the enlightenment project, but finds its most advanced case in the deep ecology movement. Yvard-Djahansouz (2000) recapitulated the struggle between the shallow and deep ecology strands of environmentalism saying,
In 1973, Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess defined the term “shallow ecology” as the “fight against pollution and resources depletion” whereas “deep ecology” refers to a deep questioning of views and attitudes towards nature. To deep ecologists, the viewpoint of mainstream environmentalists is shallow because they strive to protect only the parts of nature that are useful and necessary to humans. Mainstream environmentalists have also been under attack for placing their faith in the government, which more radical environmentalists believe has betrayed them. The complacency and conservatism of their actions and reactions, as well as their huge bureaucratic structural organizations, are also subject to assault.
The dilemma is that shallow or deep, mainstream or radical, all of these environmental constructions are epistemologically related by their implicit belief that once we "get back in touch with nature" or strive to live "in harmony with nature" or "understand nature" or "organize production according to the laws of nature" our lives will improve. The disheartening conclusion of the ecosystem model of our environment, consistent with the conclusions of Nihilism, is that if we really understand nature we will learn that far from guaranteeing our continued survival, Nature is as indifferent to our sustainable development and happiness as it is to any other life-form, from Lankester's foul Thames river worms to the most charismatic but soon-to-be-extinct panda bear.
D. Reproduction – the home, labour, culture (skills and norms), laws and policies
History is said to repeat itself, but rarely do we consider what drives that repetition. We have seen that the history of environmentalism records incessant attempts by various competing stakeholders to terraform their surroundings for their greater comfort and enhanced survival, sometimes in cooperation with others who have similar needs and desires, often in conflict with those who have a different set of environmental expectations or whose consumption of the same environmental services would lead to competitive exclusion. This is the essence of what Croal and Rankincall "Environmental Politics": The struggle to negotiate between competing interests in determining environmental conditions of existence; the relation of living organisms to their native habitat. (Croal and Rankin, 1982)
Given that those relations are in constant flux we need some theory to explain how the salient features of the eco-drama reproduce themselves. Certainly such reproduction needs support from stakeholders who can influence and reinforce patterns of consumption, who are willing to endow the legal system with legitimacy, are willing to respect civil and governmental authority, abide by the laws and invest in businesses, endorse their decisions, permit production, and use industry's products and technologies. It needs a common set of ideas about how to react to environmental improvements and environmental degradations, how to react to crises, and how to organize to solve problems. Weiskel's imperial eco-drama is the first I have seen that makes sense of the pattern of reproduction underlying environmental change and resistance movements toward it. It is worth quoting Weiskel's story at length to get the full impact of the story: (click here to skip the story)
“Imperialism engenders a particular type of ecological drama involving several characteristic phases or acts. The play has been repeated many times, and as with all classical drama, the plot is now well understood. Indeed some might argue that there is a depressing repetitiveness to the successive enactments of the colonial eco-drama, as if man and nature knew how to write only one scenario and insisted upon staging the same play in theatre after theater on an ever-expanding worldwide tour.”
“In the First Act of the drama colonial expansion fosters biotic interchange as the dramatis personae are introduced to one another and the stage is set for the ensuing acts. Old associations of species are disrupted and new communities are created on the basis of novel associations, representing new interactions and altered flows of matter and energy in localized ecosystems.”
“Following rapidly upon the early period of “biotic admixture” is a second phase involving the explosive behavior in populations of selected species. Which species experience population explosions in this manner is not a random or accidental matter. It has to do in the first place with what niches may have been left unoccupied or underoccupied in the “eco-terrain” of the colonial encounter. Basically, intrusive exogenous species are able to exploit previously underoccupied eco-niches which they fortuitously encounter simply upon arriving in their new world.”
“If they are intelligent beings, they may attribute their new “success” to such things as foresight, insight or genius for “improving” their environment, but they do not often fully comprehend the processes in which they participate. While always acting as conscious, intentional and purposeful agents, human beings rarely have been aware of the nature, power, or extent of their own agency in complex ecosystems.”
“Similar shifts in realized eco-niches can occur among populations of endogenous species under the impulse of new energy flows, new techniques or the implementation of novel ideas afforded by the colonial encounter. In this sense a new “eco-terrain” is created for the endogenous species not by altering the environment per se but by altering the energy flows within it, or the technology or exploitative strategy applied to it.”
“Quite clearly the drama of colonial ecology does not stop here. A Third Act rapidly unfolds. Indeed, outlining this in a sequential fashion and labeling it as a “third” phase may falsify our understanding of it, because it appears simultaneously with the “second phase” of population explosion and can only be separated from it in a logical – not a chronological sense. The primary rule of ecosystems still operates: In an ecosystem you can never do just one thing… In communities where recently juxtaposed varieties of species are jostling to occupy the same eco-niche contests of competitive explusion can occur, and when they do, the encounter can appear very much like a zero-sum game wherein one population’s gain is another population’s loss… It is perhaps best to refer to this as a combined “second/third” phase involving simultaneous features of “explosion/collapse”.
“Struggles of competitive exclusion may be dramatic, but they are relatively short lived. Their resolution inevitably leads to an asymmetrical power relation wherein one population or community comes to sustain itself from an asymmetrical flow of material and energy from the other. In ecological terms this means that new relations of parasitism (and occasionally predation) establish themselves soon after initial periods of seeming straight-forward competition. “
“In the aftermath of the explosion/collapse scenes and following the struggles of competitive exclusion, the determination of which species thrive and which fail is not random… Rather there is a definite pattern clearly discernable in the apparent chaos of shifting niche allocation. That pattern is similar to the events involved in species succession. In other words, colonial ecosystems – like other ecosystems that have been radically disturbed – demonstrate sequential as well as synchronous structure. These circumstances favor populations of opportunistic species in the early stages after disruptive events. Over time those “opportunists” give way to other populations or species more capable of exploiting specialized-niches in a stable manner within increasingly complex eco-systems.”
“The disruptive events in the colonial encounter are those created by the explosion/collapse syndrome or the struggles of competitive exclusion in the second/third phase of the colonial encounter. It is as if there were a biological “shootout” or and ecological “shakedown” in those early stages of colonial encounter, leading after initial phases of confusion to a radically simplified environment characterized by “ecological vacuums” or “neo-niches”. In moving into those newly created ecological vacuums opportunistic species enjoy significant momentary dominance in the unfolding drama of colonial ecology. Analytically, that can be discussed as the Fourth Act of the colonial eco-drama. (White settler… move into what they call “virgin land” only after a phase of radical disruption characterized by explosion/collapse syndrome of epidemic disease and massive death among the resident endogenous species and human inhabitants… called expansion into “empty” territory, settling “new frontiers”. But that is largely ideological bravado, deliberate obfuscation, or simply self-delusion”
“In ecological terms it is possible to characterize those agrarian “frontier” societies as populations that have adapted themselves to extend and exploit opportunistic species – usally a relatively narrow range of Poaceae (Graminae) – in the wake of the radical ecosystemic simplification fostered by the explosion/collapse syndrome in the early stages of the colonial encounter. Despite a well-documented record of the sequence of events in that process, few white settler societies have sought to write their history in ecosystemic terms. The reasons may well have to do with the ideological difficulties those societies would likely experience were they to face up to the moral dilemmas embodied in the next Act of the colonial eco-drama.
“ The Fifth and final Act in the eco-drama involves the development of mature pest and predator populations that emerge within the colonial ecosystem to establish new kinds of enduring symbiotic relations with the intrusive species or populations, keeping their explosive behavior in check and deriving sustenance from them. In ecosystemic terms, the logic of the Fifth Act is for all remaining characters to move toward the creation of stable patterns of symbiotic community interaction by dampening population oscillations and adjusting to one another’s needs within the parameters of local materials cycles and energy pulses. The ecosystems move toward creating communities that resist either the import or export of matter or energy from locally sustainable materials cycles based on the continuous flow of solar energy. Because the story line of the colonial play depends upon the asymmetrical flow of materials and energy, when the asymmetry stops, the drama ends. Having played out their eco-drama, the exogenous dramatis personae retire from predatory expansive roles to those of stable symbionts while some of the remaining endogenous species once again regain a measure of vitality.”
“While this has happened in isolated historical cases, it should be emphasized that it is rare, for when it happens, colonialism itself ends. In those circumstances some other play has to be presented in the theaters of the world, and that would require considerably more imagination than those who write the current scenarios for humankind bring to the task. For the time being, it is clear that there is no serious danger of the play being changed on a wide scale because powerful dramatis personae and the supporting actors in the colonial eco-drama (as well as the spectators themselves) are all clamoring for repeat performances of Act Four.
“Indeed, because of the rave reviews of Act Four among literate populations, the play seems to be able to extend itself on a world-wide tour through the strength of that act alone. Little attention is given retrospectively to Acts One, Two and Three; they are mere prologue. So much excitement is packed into Act Four that neither the audience nor the performers act what comes next; audiences simply want to see the Act over and over again, in one language after another, on one stage after the next. The demand for Act Four has been so sustained in recent years – perhaps because of its “sex and violence” scenes – that it would seem the “only show in town.” Indeed the actors have perfected their performances in the roles represented in Act Four to such and extent that they would be at a loss to know what to do in any other dramatic roles, let alone any other plays.
“Whole schools now exclusively teach young actors to perfect their evolutionary movement on the ecological stage in this particular act. Students begin to internalize their assigned parts and conceive of themselves exclusively in terms of the role of rapid and heroic intervention into local ecosystems to rape, reap, and weep. They often call themselves “developers” or “development economists” or some such title, and they seem to gain audience sympathy and demands for repeat performances on the basis of how much they rape, how much they reap, and how often they can make us weep. The more we weep, the more we seem to want the Act repeated. So gripping is the performance that no one on stage or in the audience has seriously questioned whether the play should be staged again. To question such a thing in public is impolite, indeed it is downright subversive, because above all else, “the play must go on,” even if only in its strangely repetitive and stunted form.” P. 279.
On to Act 5?
Weiskel's never ending story is completely consistent with the ecosystem model of reality. While reconstructions of prehistory, the Sahlin's documentation of the "original state of affluence" of hunter gatherer populations and Zerzan's "future primitive" ideas may offer insight into temporally stable climax communities of Homo sapien, we are still lacking a clear road map for what the fifth act would look like if acted out by Homo faber. Nobody knows if civilization as we know it can ever reach the steady state economic situation that Herman Daly has been arguing for (see next chapter). Weiskel sees it as the end of the drama, something for which we have no storytelling precedent and thus are unlikely to adopt. One suggestion I see emerging from such an impartial "ecosystem model" of reality is that all the social engineering in the world may not be able to resolve the paradoxes of pollution, resource exhaustion and species extinction when the ecosystem itself selected for the very behaviors that are now getting human beings into trouble. If we successfully change those behaviors to try to adapt to our new industrial capitalist environment, which is of such recent origin as to be an eyeblink in the long gaze of evolutionary time, we will doubtless go extinct when this spatiotemporal oddity in our march through time is passed and we must once again adapt to the true limits and requirements of the biosophere. It is this insight that the Edenic and Savage and Rights models failed to capture and which only the ecosystem model has had the perspective to teach us. This is why Timothy Luke from the Department of Poltical Science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute has written, after reviewing environmentalism through the optic of the philosopher Baudrillard, "Environmentalism [may be] the Highest Stage of Capitalism". Ultimately it will be the man-made system of exchange and power relations that will be forced to adapt to both human nature and non-human nature, according to Luke. Capitalism is a recent evolutionary experiment (5000 years old according to Gunder Frank 1978, 1990, 1991, 1993; Wallertstein 1974, 1978, Abu-Lughod 1980, Kohl 1989, Gills and Frank 1990) that will have to change or perish. And it is changing, As Gunder Frank says in "The Underdevelopment of Development" (1996) :
We do live in the same world system that began to 'develop' more than five thousand years ago, but the system is not the same, or not everything is the same in the system. There have been many changes. Some of the 'structural' features of the world system (inequality, cycles, etc.) themselves seem endogenously to generate processual and evolutionary changes in the system itself. Moreover, although the structure of the system imposes limits on 'voluntaristic' action and policy to transform the system itself (e.g. from-to the supposed feudalism-capitalism-socialism-communisms), alternatives are possible and many popular struggles are necessary. World system history is however quite clear about what will not work… general and especially uniform global development was and remains impossible… lower order national/regional/sectorial/group/individual development policy can only marginally affect but not transform the stage of global evolution. Moreover, it can only take place within the possibilities and constraints of that global evolutionary process, which it only helps to shape." (p. 24) CHECK THE SPELLING IN THIS QUOTE
As capitalism has evolved, objects, resources, and nature itself have gone from having perceived use value to exchange value to sign value. As Baudrillard (quoted in Luke, p. 29) observes,
"the great signified, the great referent Nature is dead, replaced by environment, which simultaneously designates and designs its death and the restoration of nature as simulation model… we enter a social environment of synthesis in which a total abstract communication and an immanent manipulation no longer leave any point exterior to the system."
To this Luke rejoins,
"Putting earth first only establishes ecological capital as the ultimate basis of life. Infrastructuralizing Nature renders everything on Earth, or "humanity's home" into capital – land, labor, animals, plants, air, water genes, ecosystem. And, mainstream environmentalism often becomes a very special kind of "home eco nomics" to manage humanity's indoors and outdoors household accounts…
If Luke is correct, and environmentalism is the final form of capitalism, then it suggests a possible terminus for a long and painful history of social evolution, and the reverse also holds true – capitalism is the final form, and thus spells the end of, environmentalism. The lesson I draw from this is that it is the socio-economic system that needs to be in harmony with nature, not "Man". Man is already part of nature, according to the ecosystem model. This is what gurus of a positivist environmentalism past such as Buckminster Fuller and permaculturists such as Bill Mollison were trying to say with their idea that some of the answers lie in a design revolution. Somehow mainstream environmentalism Past, mired in the paradoxes of dualistic models of human/environment relations, reinforced the idea that the only way back to the garden was through neo-primitivism – a view many luddites and voluntary simplicity advocates vocalized but few were willing to actually turn into a lifestyle. Perhaps G.B. Shaw was wrong in suggesting that only the unreasonable try to adapt the world to themselves. When it was a question of adapting the natural world to human nature humans were doing what all organisms do. Now adapting the built environment – much of which is the outgrowth of power politics and the relentless logic of capital accumulation – to human nature is imperative. This is what E.F. Schumacher meant by the subtitle of his book "Small is Beautiful" – "Economics as If People Mattered". We must create people sized systems and technologies that conform to our ideas of the good life ("social welfare") rather than creating systems so large and impersonal that they enslave us to the logic of the Machine (P.M., 1980, Ivan Illich, 1983)
The episteme of this discursive struggle goes back not only to Locke and Hobbes, but to their evolutionary theory-armed post-Darwinian interpreters, Kropotkin and Huxley. Huxley, lamenting the Hobbsian world of bellum omnium contra omnes (where bellum means "war," not beauty) and a Tennysonian "Nature -- red in tooth and claw" – felt that "any human society set up along these lines of nature will devolve into anarchy and misery [and]…therefore, the chief purpose of society must lie in mitigation of the struggle that defines nature's pathway... Study natural selection and do the opposite in human society…" (quoted by Gould (1997: 2) Huxley's exact words were:
But, in civilized society, the inevitable result of such obedience [to the law of bloody battle] is the re-establishment, in all its intensity, of that struggle for existence--the war of each against all--the mitigation or abolition of which was the chief end of social organization.
Kropotkin disagreed completely. Where are the red teeth and claws of herbivores, after all? How did we allow the characteristics of a few rare species of low population density on the top of a vastly complex trophic pyramid to color the entire natural world, where cooperation and mutualism work perhaps more often than competition and predation to ensure reproductive success? Kropotkin's (correct) reading of Darwin was that the "struggle" for existence was not a unitary phenomenon. There were actually two distinct forms : One pits individual against individual for limited resources, and leads to the outcomes that champions of competitive exclusion such as Malthus and Adam Smith lay as the necessary foundations of Western Capitalism. The other, which Darwin called "the metaphorical struggle" is far more relevant to Environmentalism. It pits organisms "against the harshness of their surrounding environment, not against members of the same species." (Gould, op. cit..) This struggle, according to both Darwin and Kropotkin, leads to mutual aid. If we abandon spiritual models that separate human consciousness from Nature and conceive of intelligence, compassion and morality as evolved attributes, selected for by nature, and present to varying degrees in most vertebrates, as Kropotkin did (we are not the only intelligent, socially organized species, after all), we can conclude with him, as Gould sees, that "Sociability is as much a law of nature as mutual struggle…"
"Human society must therefore build upon our natural inclinations (not reverse them, as Huxley held) in formulating a moral order that will bring both peace and prosperity to our species" (Gould, 1997).
My own feeling is that to reproduce the hybrid man-nature-technology environment we call "civilization" without reproducing its life threatening tendencies, we will need to somehow lose our fears of deprivation and competitive exclusion as well as abandon our desire for relative power vis a vis others. It will take the tolerance and even sanction and encouragement of "free riding" found in the theories of Paul Lefargue in the 19th century and Bob Black in the 20th who have argued for "the right to be lazy" and "the abolition of work" and a comfortable faith that man-nature-technology can provide enough for all without any coerced labor at all and that selection has favored the human tendency to free ride for good reason.
“Free riding refers to a situation in which someone enjoys the benefits without being held accountable for the costs imposed on others… Cultural norms, ideology, and value systems appear to affect the degree of free riding… Simon (1990) argues that the basis for altruism includes more than these social learning mechanisms. Simon argues for a genetic endowment basis for altruism among humans: “the human tendency (here called docility) to learn from others (more accurately, the tendency to accept social influence) – which is itself a product of natural selection. Because of the limits of human rationality, fitness can be enhanced by docility that induces individuals often to adopt culturally transmitted behaviors without independent evaluation of their contribution to personal fitness” (Simon, 1990, 1665). Complete free riding appears to be uncommon; on the other hand the complete absence of free riding is as well. Social norms matter, but in the absence of an enforcement mechanism are unlikely to be sufficient to eliminate or control free riding. “ p. 191
The "costs imposed on others" by free riding is what environmentalism's fight has been all about, and environmentalism has reproduced itself within the context of that adversarial position. Environmentalists and revolutionaries claim that the elite classes have been free riding on the backs of peasants and the working class. Capitalists claim that the poor and the homeless and those only marginally attached to the world system are trying to free load at their expense. In the struggle to appropriate resources from nature the State and Industry accuse subsistence societies (peasants, fishermen, nomads, and hunters and gatherers) of free riding and use this justification for exterminating them or forcing them into the system. Everybody is trying to eliminate or control free riding. It is still unclear if they are trying to eliminate or control the costs or the behaviors.
In pursuit of free lunch and free riding
"When he saw us come in the door the bartender looked up and then reached over and put the glass covers on the two free-lunch bowls." – Ernest Hemingway, The Light of the World, 1944.
"We owe our lives to the sun... How is it, then, that we feel no gratitude?" - Lewis Thomas, Earth Ethics, Summer 1990.
"I have never believed we had to choose between either a clean and safe environment or a growing economy. Protecting the health and safety of all Americans doesn’t have to come at the expense of our economy’s bottom line. And creating thriving companies and new jobs doesn’t have to come at the expense of the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, or the natural landscape in which we live. We can, and indeed must, have both."- Bill Clinton, Between Hope and History, 1996.
If we, like Buckminster Fuller and the other cornucopians, allow ourselves to seriously reconsider the central tenet of economics and question the supposed "law" of scarcity and the zero-sum game it implies, we might find we can continue to increase welfare for all by freely riding the electromagnetic waves that stream into our planet every minute of every day. In the light of our modern knowledge of the available quantities of solar (and geothermal) income contributing freely to what we now see as an open living planetary system that persists because it is out of rather than in equilibrium, if we reinterpret the notions of the Neo-classical economists (following the mathematical demonstrations of the first welfare theorem by Kenneth Arrow and Gerard Debreu) who believe that a free market will lead to a Pareto efficient equilibrium, and include the concept of negentropy, we might be able to conceive of a way for free markets to allow a society of "free riders" that doesn't diminish the welfare of any other individual. Liberated from our obsession with the fixed and diminishing energy resources that framed our economic discourse for the past few centuries (which E.F. Schumacher referred to as "dipping into our savings") , such systems might permit us to equitably grow along with our ability to make ever better use of our free energy income. Indeed there is a long tradition among great thinkers that there may very well be such a thing as a free lunch:
William Ruckelshaus, the first EPA Adminstrator, (1970-1973 and 1983-1985) told Business Week, in June 18, 1990 "Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites." Ruckelshaus' sentiments echo those of Mahatma Gandhi who said (quoted in EF Schumacher, Small is Beautiful) "Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed." And James Fennimore Cooper pointed out the social dimensions of the free lunch when he wrote in The Prairie (1827) "The air, the water and the ground are free gifts to man and no one has the power to portion them out in parcels. Man must drink and breathe and walk and therefore each man has a right to his share of each."
Despite my heuristic use of the ecosystem model, I come from a Christian background that applies a much different scripture than the one White called the root of our ecological crisis. I model my relationship to nature over the Christ's advice that we observe natural history to find our role models:
" Luke 12:27 - Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.".
Matthew 6:26 - Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Following the advice of this populist Rabbi from 2000 years ago, recorded in the witnesses of two apostles, to model our behavior after non-human organisms whose cognitive maps of their environment include neither forethought, worry or regret, may seem paradoxical for planners and environmentalists, whose stock in trade seems predicated on anxious apprehension of the future and a desire, for good or ill, to "manage" nature. But it has certainly found resonance among practitioners of techne and autopoiesis in their original senses:
"Consider the lilies is the only commandment I ever obeyed" wrote Emily Dickinson, now celebrated as an eco-poet (Postnikov 2001) who negotiated the intersections of race, gender and notions of nature (Stein 1997) and whom the US Environmental Agency uses as one of its quotable icons.
My own feeling is that we really should consider the lilies and the birds and indeed all the other life forms who co-create our environment. To do this we must, as Richard Bulliet points out in Hunters, Herders and Hamburgers, resolve the "emotional contradictions inherent in postdomesticity" (2005:3) so that coevolution can continue to occur in a way favorable to the long term survival of consciousness, self awareness and personal creativity. If we can design a society that allows people to live in coherence with what Rene Dubos (1965: xix) called "the lasting and universal characteristics ofman's nature, which are inscribed in his flesh and bone; the ephemeral conditions which man encounters at a given moment; and last but not least, man's ability to choose between alternatives and to decide upon a course of action" we may at last achieve a healthy relationship between these "three separate classes of determinants", in the interplay of which "human life is the outcome" (Ibid). According to Dubos "Ideally, the goal of medicine has always been to help man function successfully in his environment – whether he is hunting the mammoth, toiling for his daily bread, or attempting to reach the moon"(Ibid). Environmentalism could be strong medicine to help us resolve contradictions by opening our eyes to what human nature in Nature can do. And as long as we are operating in the realm of ideals (the subject of my third essay) we must consider that it is "perfectly okay" and "perfectly natural" and (to belabor the definition of ideal) just plain "perfect" for human beings to seek a free ride on the surplus value of solar and geothermal income without imposing un-agreed-to costs on others. Through proper eco-co-design of the built environment and the right ethics we might be able to eliminate our competitive discomfort with the idea that others (of our own and different species) might live freely and still be well fed and arrayed. If we can do this, then I feel we might finally achieve the happy ending implied by Act five of the Weiskel's imperial eco-drama.
In the next chapter we will look at Environmentalism Present's attempt to do full cost accounting and calculate the costs and benefits of free riding, and attempt to understand how ecological economics addresses the problems of our relationship with our environment.
(After Hoffman, 1999, Appendix C, Preliminary Environmental Event Sample, p. 371)
Publication of Silent Spring, 1962
Agent Orange protests against Dow Chemical, mid-1960s
New York City garbage strikes, 1967
Torrey Canyon, oil spill, England, 1967
Formation of the EDF, 1967
DDT banned, 1968
Oil spill, Santa Barbara, California, 1969
Cuyahoga River fire, 1969
Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) pushes for Clean Air Act (CAA), 1969
Passage of the National Environmental Policy Act, 1969
First Earth Day, 1970
Formation of the NRDC, 1970
President Nixon’s “environmental” state-of-the-union address, 1970
Formation of the Council on Environmental Quality, 1970
Formation of the EPA, December 1970
Passage of the Clean Air Act, 1970
Publication of The Limits to Growth, 1972
Passage of the Clean Water Act, 1972
UN Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm, 1972
OPEC oil embargo, 1973
Argo Merchant, Oil Spill, Massachusetts, 1976
Seveso, Italy, chemical release, 1976
PCBs banned, 1976
Key environmental leaders take positions in Carter administration
Passage of the Resource Conservation and Recovery ACT (RCRA), 1976
Passage of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 1976
Love Canal, waste dump, New York, 1978
Amoco Cadiz, oil spill, France, 1978
Formation of Greenpeace U.S.A. 1979
Three Mile Island nuclear plant failure, 1979
Burmah Agate, oil spill, Texas, 1979
Passage of Superfund, 1980
Georgia, oil spill, Louisiana, 1980
Olympic Glory, oil spill, Texas, 1981
See also: Environmental Movement Timeline Ecology Hall of Fame http://ecotopia.org/ehof/timelinetext.html
Luke, Timothy W. (1997) "The (Un)Wise (Ab) Use of Nature: Environmentalism as Globalized Consumerism?" Presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, March 18-22, 1997. http://www.cddc.vt.edu/tim/tims/Tim528.htm
 Weiner, Douglas R., (2005) A death-defying attempt to articulate a coherent Definition of Environmental History. Environmental History 10.3 (2005): 42 pars. 13 Dec. 2005
 Luke, Timothy W. (1995) "On Environmentality: Geo-Power and Eco-Knowledge in the Discourses of Contemporary Environmentalism", Cultural Critique, No. 31, The Politics of Systems and Environments, Part II (Autumn, 1995), 57-81. The first reference to environmental science in the New York Times Index in 1960, the year Rachel Carson published her esays in New Yorker, ties it to the topic of "astronautics".
 Guha, Ramachandra, 2000 Environmentalism, A Global History New Delhi, Oxford U Press
 Grove, R. H. 1995. Green Imperialism: Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens and the Origins of Environmentalism, 1600-1860. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
 Cronon, William, 1992. A Place for Stories: Nature, History and Narrative. The Journal of American History. (March): 1347-1376.
 Mahesh Rangarajan's Review of Green Imperialism, Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens and the Origins of Environmentalism By Richard Grove. Oxford, Rs. 375. From The Telegraph, 10 November 1995, Section-Arts & Ideas p. 2 online at http://www.people.virginia.edu/~pm9k/Writings/grove.html
 Palmer, Joy A. Editor, Fifty Key Thinkers on the Environment, Routledge Key Guides.
 Says Rorty “Before analytic philosophy took over, the study of philosophy in both anglophone and non-anglophone countries had centered around the history of philosophy. Anybody who taught philosophy was expected to be able to talk about the relative merits of Plato and Aristotle, Hobbes and Spinoza, Kant and Hegel, Nietzsche and Mill.
That was of course not all you were supposed to do: you also had to take part in current debates in the journals. But nobody in this period had any doubt that philosophy was one of the humanities. For advanced training in philosophy did not differ all that much from advanced training in departments of literature: one read canonical texts, developed views about their relative merits, and tried to stitch them together in interesting new patterns.” http://www.stanford.edu/~rrorty/analytictrans.htm
 a biography of Wright is found here http://architect.architecture.sk/frank-lloyd-wright-architect/frank-lloyd-wright-architect.php
 the meeting of Emerson and Mill is found in his biography here: http://ralphwaldoemerson.wwwhubs.com/
 H.G. Wells, in "A Modern Utopia" (1910) pits an accountant against a botanist and shows the former to be more or a utopianist than the latter, who, far from being a cold scientist, is too much of a romantic to consider the benefits of the grand ideas of social progress that good governance and technology can bring about. So much for Emerson's construction of the scientists of the turn of the century not being romantic.
 Rorty is emphatic that philosophy cannot add authority to science. In his 1999 lecture ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY AND TRANSFORMATIVE PHILOSOPHY he stated: “The moral of my lecture will be that both the failure of analytic philosophy and the history of its autocritique give additional reasons to abandon, once and for all, the very idea that philosophy can be made into any sort of science. Both help us replace the assumption that philosophy should add bricks to the edifice of knowledge with the thought that philosophy is, as Hegel said, its time held in thought.” http://www.stanford.edu/~rrorty/analytictrans.htm
 Hornborg Alf (1998) Ecological Embeddedness and Personhood: Have We Always Been Capitalists? Anthropology Today, Vol. 14, No. 2. (Apr.), pp. 3-5. To Hornborg money is “an ‘ecosemiotic’ phenomenon that has very tangible effects on ecosystems and the biosphere as a whole...If it weren’t for general-purpose money, nobody would be able to trade tracts of rainforest for Coca Cola. Much as Gregory Bateson and Roy Rappaport did,we could regard it as a communicative disorder. The ecologist crawford Holling (Holling and Sanderson 1996) notes that natural systems tend to show a kind of correpondence between temporal and spatial scales, so that the more inclusive a system is, the longer its time span. A forest is thus more permanent than a tree, a tree more permanent than a leaf and so on. To trade rainforests for carbonated beverages obviously does not agree with this pattern. I would like to conclude by suggesting that there is a peculiar relationship between money and the Sacred, two ideas – or ‘memes’ in Dawkins’ (1976) words – that both signify encompassment, abstraction, and the transcendance of context. It is not a coincidence that the nature of both of these phenomena preoccupied Roy Rappaport. In a complex sense, money is a transmutation – and an inversion of the Sacred. We can think of the biblical Mammon, or of Marx’s concept of money fetishism. The same capacity for abstraction which gave us teh Sacred, the ultimate, the irreducible, also gave us money, for which nothing is sacred and everything is reducible. The Sacred is abstraction rooted or embedded in local resonance; money – and science – are disembedded abstraction (Hornborg 1994). And the universal selection theorists could no doubt observe that human history has selected for money and science, at the expense of the Sacred. ” p. 5
 Wildavsky, Aaron (1976) Economy and Environment/Rationality and Ritual Stanford Law Review, Vol. 29, No. 1 (Nov.) 183-204. “Money repels environmentalists because they find it a repulsive symbol. To them money has become mercenary, the dollar sign a stigma, its invocation an emblem of the fall from grace. It has become associated with man’s lower functions, the odor of corruption following its appearance. Properly used it might nurture nature, making man one with the land. But money has become a source of idolatry: mankind worships its own feces.” p. 193
 Weiner, Douglas R. (1992) Demythologizing Environmentalism Journal of the History of Biology, vol. 25, no. 3 (Fall), pp. 385-411.
 Chesterton, G.K. (1908) Orthodoxy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press),
see the Patron Saint’s Index at http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/saintf01.htm; Native American Saint Kateri Tekakwitha is pending canonization and shares the ecology patronage with St. Francis, who was canonized in 1228
 Fortin, Ernest L. (1995) The Bible Made Me Do It: Christianity, Science, and the Environment The Review of Politics, Vol. 57, No. 2. (Spring,), pp. 197-223.
 In Fathers and Sons (1862)
 Rogers James Allen (1960) Darwinism, Scientism, and Nihilism Russian Review, Vol. 19, No. 1. (Jan.), pp. 10-23. Interestingly, Kravchinksky’s statement that nihilism, concerned at first with with the emancipation of the individual personality from all restraints, was apolitical, “a passionate and powerful reaction, not against poltical despotism, but against the moral despotism that weighs upon the private and inner life of the individual” gives it, and environmentalism, the possibility of finding their way into coherence with liberation theology and with a reinterpretation of the Muslim notion of “Jihad”, the inner war against the self.
 Heidegger, Martin (1949) "The Word of Nietzsche: "God is Dead", in "the Question Concerning Technology and other essays." English translation copyright 1977, Harper & Row.
 (Nietzsche, Will to Power Aph. 2 and Aph. 715, 1887-88 quoted in Heidegger, Ibid:66)
 Kroll, Gary (2002) Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: A Brief History of Ecology as a Subversive Subject on OnLineEthics.org, the online ethics center for engineering and science at Case Western University, http://onlineethics.org/moral/carson/kroll.html “In the late 1960s Paul Shepard, a human ecologist and philosopher, wrote the introduction for Subversive Science - a book that offered an interdisciplinary perspective on what was then termed "the ecological crisis." Shepard noted that a change in western perspective was absolutely necessary: "where now there is man-centeredness, even pathology of isolation and fear...ecology as applied to man faces the task of renewing a balanced view." Ecology was less important as a scientific discipline than for its holistic perspective. There is, Shepard maintained, much that is radical in ecology: "The ideological status of ecology is that of a resistance movement. Its Rachel Carsons and Aldo Leopolds are subversive (as Sears recently called ecology itself)." He concluded by noting that the ecological crisis could not be ameliorated by technical and scientifically engineered quick-fixes, but rather by invoking "an element of humility which is foreign to our thought, which moves us to silent wonder and glad affirmation.1 While the point is debatable, one could certainly argue that Shepard's, Leopold's, and Carson's revolution never took place, at least not in the manner that they had hoped.” 1 Paul Shepard, "Introduction: Ecology and Man - a Viewpoint," in Paul Shepard and Daniel McKinley (eds.) The Subversive Science: Essays Toward an Ecology of Man (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1969), pp. 1-10 On the rise and fall of radicalism see Robert Gottlieb, Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement (Washington D.C., 1993).
 Herbert Marcuse, "Ecology and Revolution," Liberation 16 (September 1972), p. 12.
 (Nietzsche, Will to Power, Aph. 1021, 1887 paraphrased by Heidegger, op. cit.: 69).
 Bunnell, Pille (2000) “Attributing nature with justifications” Systems Research and Behavioral Science
Volume 17, Issue 5, 2000. Pages 469-480 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 Nash, Roderick (1989) The Rights of Nature: A History of Environmental Ethics. University of Wisconson Press.
 Wikipedia says: Ontic describes what is there, as opposed to the nature or properties of that being. Martin Heidegger posited the concept of Sorge, or caring, as the fundamental concept of the intentional being, and presupposed an ontological significance that distinguishes ontological being from mere "thinghood" of an ontic being. He uses the German word Dasein for a being that is capable of ontology, that is, recursively comprehending properties of the very fact of (ontic) its own Being. In philosophy, ontic (from the Greek ﬁÉÀÉ—ÉÕV = part. of É√É«ÉÀÉøÉ« = being) is physical or factual existence, as opposed to metaphysical ontologic existence.”
 See footnote 15
 SOLIS BRIAN (2004) "Foucault and the Defense of Deep Ecology", Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park. "20 Years after Foucault" Graduate Student Conference New School for Social ResearchMonday, April 26, 2004, 10:00am to 10:00pmWolff Conference Room, 65 Fifth Avenue, New York CityConference website: http://www.panopticweb.com/2004conference/
 Solis (2004) op cit. p. 5
 Vinge, Vernor (1993) “What is the Singularity” Department of Mathematical SciencesSan Diego State University The original version of this article was presented at the VISION-21 Symposium sponsored by NASA Lewis Research Center and the Ohio Aerospace Institute, March 30-31, 1993. A slightly changed version appeared in the Winter 1993 issue of Whole Earth Review. http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~phoenix/Lit/vinge-sing.html
 Moravec, Hans, (1988) Mind Children, Harvard University Press.
 Minsky, Marvin (1985), Society of Mind, Simon and Schuster,.
 Drexler, K. Eric (1986), Engines of Creation, Anchor Press, Doubleday, Garden City, New York. online at http://xaonon.dyndns.org/misc/engines_of_creation.pdf
 Tipler, Frank (1995) The Physics of Immortality. Doubleday. Tipler echoes a point made by Samuel Butler in Erewhon: “Tipler points out that even cars and ideas are living beings, as they encode information and they can self-replicate, albeit with the help of another being (a factory or a mind). But another being is often required by biological systems (many plants needs a bee to replicate, males need females to replicate and so forth)”. see review at http://www.thymos.com/mind/tipler.html
 Solis asks, “What do we do without the narrative? Do we kill one another...? The way of life is life. Biological needs should take precedent over other approaches to existence because there is no difference between man and all other living organisms, despite the anthropocentric nature of Kant’s enlightenment.” p. 17
 Morrison Reg (1999) The Spirit in the Gene: Humanity's Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature. Comstock Publishing, Ithaca, NY and London, pages 130-134, reprinted online at http://www.scientists4pr.org/chemistry_of_collapse.htm, the website of “Scientists for Population Reduction”..
 Peritore, N. Patrick (1993)E nvironmental Attitudes of Indian Elites: Challenging Western Postmodernist Models
Asian Survey, Vol. 33, No. 8. (Aug.), pp. 804-818. Peritore concludes: in India the environmental movement “far from being a vanguard, is fighting a rearguard action for cultural and ecological survival.” p. 818
 O’Neill, William L. (1989) An Environmentalist Lineage Science, New Series, Vol. 244 (May 19), 834/835
 Luke (1995) says, "environments are often transformed rhetorically into silences, backgrounds, or settings." P. 63
 Jaspers, Karl, Man in the Modern Age, described in Collins, Jeff and Selina, Howard (1998) Introducing Heidegger, Totem Books, Cambridge.
 http://www.rjsmith.com/kia_tbl.html "US casualty information was derived from the Combat Area Casualty File of 11/93, and The Adjutant General's Center (TAGCEN) file of 1981" and "NVA casualty data was provided by North Vietnam in a press release to Agence France Presse (AFP) on April 3, 1995, on the 20th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War"; for US soldiers "there were an additional 10,824 non-hostile deaths for a total of 58,202"; the NVA figures are 1,100,000, more than 20 times the number of US combat casualties. In addition, the number of Vietnamese Wounded in Action, 600,000, is twice that of the American WIAs, 304,704.
 Estimates run from 1,750,000–2,100,000 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_and_disasters_by_death_toll
 http://rex.nci.nih.gov/NCI_Pub_Interface/raterisk/risks67.html; Donald Shopland gives a figure of 434,000 smoking deaths in one year according to 1991 data; Shopland et. al expected 516,000 cancer deaths in 1994 of which over a third due to cigarette smoking.
 http://www.benbest.com/lifeext/causes.html reports that between 1970 and 2003 annual road mortalities fell from 52,627 to 42,116. They also point out that in 1953 the chances of dying in an automobile accident were 4 times greater than in 2003, the vast improvements being attributable to1,750,000–2,100,000 better medical car, improvements in roads and automobile safety as well as stricter drinking and driving laws. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year has a list of auto fatalities per year since 1975, averaging over 40,000 pear year, approximately 117 per day.
 http://www.gcrio.org/CONSEQUENCES/summer95/population.html; the December 5th 2005 population of the US is listed on the population clock at http://www.census.gov/ as 297,811,554, with an annual growth rate of 1.1%, (Pimental and Giampetro, 1994 http://dieoff.org/page40.htm); 1 birth every 7 seconds and one death every 13 seconds, one net international migrant every 25 seconds, one net individual gain every 10 seconds (http://www.census.gov/population/www/popclockus.html) and (http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/003161.html)
 see http://www.ibiblio.org/lunarbin/worldpop/ for David Levine's java applet population clock year by year from 1970 to present.
 Karan P. P. (1994) Environmental Movements in India Geographical Review, Vol. 84, No. 1. (Jan.), pp. 32-41.
 World Oil Market and Oil Price Chronologies: 1970 – 2004 Department of Energy's Office of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Analysis Division. March 2005, http://188.8.131.52/search?q=cache:KA6UXe3uy1QJ:www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/chron.html+environmental+events+of+1973&hl=de
 Pickvance, Katy (1997) Social Movements in Hungary and Russia: The Case of Environmental Movements European Sociological Review, Vol. 13, No. 1 (May, 1997), 35-54
 Nonviolence Speaks to Power, by Petra K. Kelly, online book at http://www.globalnonviolence.org/nv_speaks_to_power.htm, almost complete text (also, out of print, published by Matsunaga Institute for Peace, University of Hawaii, 1992, ISBN 188030905X
 Swain, Ashok (1997) Democratic Consolidation? Environmental Movements in India Ashok Asian Survey, Vol. 37, No. 9. (Sep.), pp. 818-832.
 For a comparison of Western European Environmental History with those of China, Japan and India, see Radkau, Joachim (2003) "Exceptionalism in European Environmental History GHI Bulletin No. 33, Lecture delivered at the German Historical Institute, Washington DC October 10 2002
 Merchant, Carolyn (1990) "Gender and Environmental History," Journal of American History, 76, no. 4 (March 1990): 1117-1121, quotation on p. 1121.
 Weiskel, Timothy (1987) "Agents of Empire: Steps Toward an Ecology of Imperialism," Environmental Review 11, no. 4 (Winter): 275-88
 Tropics of discourse: essays in cultural criticism
HV White - 1978 - Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press
 The Hero with a Thousand Faces. 1949
J Campbell - New York, NY: Bollingen Foundation Inc, 1968
 For a nice review of the decade 1970-1979 see "Don't Trust Anyone Over 30: 1970-1979, Polyester and Prevarications" by Howard Smead, online at http://www.howardsmead.com/BOOM70~1.HTM
 see footnote 11
 see Crichton’s State of Fear, appendix.
 Pickvance (1997) reminds us that "what is distinctive about social movements is that political activities within the movement do not seek to gain power but to limit it. This distinguishes protest activities and civil actions from opposition political party activities." P. 36. The "betrayal" that people like Ron Arnold in his book "Undue Influence" try to suggest is the implication that environmentalists now seek power and must themselves be limited.
 Gunder Frank writes (with irony) : “ Development meant following step by step in our (Americn idealized) footsteps from tradition to modernity” http://www.rrojasdatabank.org/agfrank/underdev.html
 Pickvance (1997) reviews the main schools of social movement theory – the collective behaviour approach, the mass society approach, the relative deprivation approach, the new social movement theory, the cognitive theory, and resource mobilization theory with its 'organizational entrepreneurial approach and political opportunity structure approach, referring the reader to reviews by Dalton e. al., 1990 and Eyerman and Jamison, 1991. She says, "all these theories are based on North American and western European experience." P. 35
 For a brilliant explanation of the "dummification" of the masses, see James Scott, "Seeing Like a State".
“It may not be improper to characterize as ecological imperialism the elaboration of a world organization that is centered in industrial societies and degrades the ecosystems of the agrarian societies it absorbs. Ecological imperialism is in some ways similar to economic imperialism. In both there is a flow of energy and materials from the less organized system to the more organized one, and both may also be masked by the same euphemisms, among which “progress” and “development” are prominent… The anthropocentric trend I have described may have ethical implications, but the issue is ultimately not a matter or morality or even of Realpolitik. It is one of biological viability.” Roy Rappaport, “The Flow of Energy in Agricultural Society” (1971). In Weiskel, Agents of Empire
 Weiskel, Timothy (1987) "Agents of Empire: Steps Toward an Ecology of Imperialism," Environmental Review 11, no. 4 (Winter 1987): 275-278
 Sears, Paul (1956) The Processes of Environmental Change by Man." In Man's Role in Changing the Face of the Earth, edited by W. L. Thomas Jr. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, see biography on http://www.bookrags.com/sciences/biology/paul-bigelow-sears-1891-1990-americ-enve-02.html
 " Ecologist Paul Sears writes that ecology is a "subversive subject", quoted in Donald Worster, Nature's Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas, 2nd edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Presee, p. 23, 1994. W. John Colletta writes of Clare: "Natural history (for poet John Clare, 1793-1864) could be subversive not only because it could describe healthy natural communities that would themselves serve as benchmarks against which to measure environmental devastation; natural history could also help reveal the inseparability of environmental and human concerns..." (from "Fifty Key Thinkers on the Environment", Edited by Joy A. Palmer, Routledge Key Press, 2001, p. 85).
 Nash, Roderick, (1989) The Rights of Nature – A History of Environmental Ethics, University of Wisconson Press) quoted on http://www.svn.net/rmetzner/geo_rights.html
 Animal liberation: a new ethics for our treatment of animals
P Singer - 1975 - New York: New York
 Should trees have standing?: Toward legal rights for natural objects
CD Stone - 1972 - Los Angeles: University of Southern California
 Brosse, J. 1989. Mythologie des arbres. Paris. and Matthews, J. & Matthews, C. 2002. Taliesen, the last Celtic shaman. Rochester, Vermont, USA, Inner Traditions International. Are quoted on the FAO website at http://www.fao.org/documents/show_cdr.asp?url_file=/docrep/005/y9882e/y9882e15.htm
 McLuhan Marshall (1967) The Medium Is the Massage (sic)Random House
 Sharon Beder, (1997) Global Spin: The Corporate Assault on Environmentalism, Green Books, Devon, UK
 This is not only true of the American environmental movement, but was also operant in the Russian experience in the 1960's when the "Nature Protection Squad" (NPS), organized by the Natural Science Faculty o fMoscow University " supported and sustained the romantic, apolitical tradition of nature protection which was the most easily tolerated idea at the time" (Pickvance, op.cit. p. 38; she references Yanitsky, 1993).
 Breslaw, John (1970) "Economics and Ecosystems" in The Environmental Handbook, Edited by Garrett de Bell pp. 102-112
 Pakulski (1991) defines social movements as "partially institutionalized collective activities which have a structure but where no formal membership is necessary, unlike political parties." (in Pickvance, 1997, p. 35). The question is who defines the structure and who allows a given perspective to diffuse through the media.
 Mainstream versus Grassroots The Case of the Environmental Justice Movement Gelareh YVARD-DJAHANSOUZ
 Paul S. Sutter, Driven Wild: How the Fight against Automobiles Launched the Modern
Wilderness Movement (Seattle, Wash., 2002). Cited in FROM WILDERNESS TO HYBRID LANDSCAPES: THE CULTURAL TURN IN ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY by RICHARD WHITE p. 560 The Historian
Volume 66 Issue 3 Page 557 - September 2004
doi:10.1111/j.1540-6563.2004.00089.x Volume 66 Issue 3
 Robert Gottlieb, Forcing the Spring: the Transformation of the American Environmental
Movement (1993); Laura Pulido, Environmentalism and Economic Justice (1996); Eileen Maura
McGurty, “From NIMBY to Civil Rights: The Origins of the Environmental Justice Movement,” Environmental History 2(1997):301-23.
 "...a milestone white paper on so-called free-market environmentalism called "Project 88", which EDF helped write for Senators John Heinz and Tim Wirth  argued that environmental regulations were economically onerous and often counter-productive. Hurt business, stifle economic growth and you deflate corporate interest in environmental quality. Such notions derive from the belief that environmentalism is a luxury concern which Americans turn their attention only in times of booming prosperity. .." http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Environmental_Defense_and_Free_Market_Environmentalism and Alexander Cockburn and Ken Silverstein, Washington Babylon, Verso, London and New York, 1996.
 Crichton expounds in his novel "State of Fear" and his address to MIT; his views can be found at www.michaelcrichton.net.
 Clauson, Kevin L. (1990) Environmentalism: A modern idolatry http://www.reformed.org/webfiles/antithesis/v1n2/ant_v1n2_environ.html
 Clauson epitomizes the antienvironmentalist rhetoric used by the religious "right" supporting the Bush dynasty, so I quote him here: "The environmentalist lobby has imposed immense costs on individuals and enterprises, large and small. Environmentalists generally do not like to talk about the subject of economic costs, claiming that it is an immoral subject, and that one cannot simply put a price on a clean, healthy, safe, or beautiful environment (with these characteristics being themselves defined by environmentalism -- which of course imposes a utopian standard).
Despite this economic irrationality however, there "ain't no such thing as a free lunch," -- TANSTAAFL The costs that have already been imposed and which are even now being imposed cannot be ignored. Furthermore, the current environmentalist agenda, pursuing its utopian, perfectionistic, and pantheistic social ethic, accepts even more economic irrationality. The following are recent examples: Domestic steel prices have been forced up an estimated $8.00 a ton because of environmental regulations, making the U.S. Steel industry less competitive.
The American lead smelting industry has been virtually destroyed by utopian standards.
One independent oil driller had to pay $1400 to have forty acres searched and certified free of Indian arrowheads.
Water pollution regulations have reduced the metal and fishing industries from 70,000 factories to 5,000.
Between 1972 and 1980 the price of a Douglas fir was forced up 500% due to bureaucratic regulations.
Standard Oil of Ohio spent five years and $50 million and filed over seven-hundred permits for a pipeline before finally giving up in1979. One housing development in San Mateo County, California was forced by environmentalist pressures to reduce the number of townhouses and apartments in the development from 12,500 to 2,200, increasing rents from the original $280-$360/month (contemplated) to $310-$480/month. The plan was finally abandoned altogether. These are particular "horror stories," but they are not at all isolated or atypical examples of the impact of environmentalism. Nor do these specifics give us an idea of the more pervasive costs in the economy. Economist Murray Wedenbaum, former head of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, estimated in the late 70's that the EPA rules forced industry to spend an extra $70-100 billion per year. The Council on Environmental Quality itself estimated that industry would spend an extra $40 billion/year for quality control by 1985. The generic results of burdensome environmental regulations are as follows:
greater industry concentration ("monopolization") as smaller firms which cannot easily absorb the compliance costs, suffer and die while larger firms survive.
less innovation since less money is available for research, development, and modernization. A National Science Foundation study in 1972 showed that small firms -- those most vulnerable to harsher environmental regulations -- produce twenty-four times as many industrial innovations per research dollar as large firms; moderate-sized firms produce eight times more.
higher costs for consumers. However an economic myth must be exposed here. All of the additional costs imposed by regulations cannot necessarily be passed on to consumers because of competition from close product substitutes. These leave the firm to absorb some costs.
lower productivity because firms which must absorb some costs often do not modernize, or do not invest as much, or cut production costs where necessary.
more unemployment since one way to cut costs to make up for environmental regulation compliance costs is to cut labor costs, often the highest production cost in a given firm.
Do environmentalists recognize the impact of their zealotry on the economy? Most certainly they must. Nevertheless, as with any anti-Christian religious system, "the truth is suppressed in unrighteousness." The economic costs are explained away or alleged to be an immoral consideration, thus granting environmentalism the moral high ground. Now we must demonstrate the legitimate role of government, distinguishing justice from environmentalism, and seizing back the moral high ground. See Allyn Douglas Strickland, Government Regulation and Business (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1980) and Charles Baird, Rent Control for these and other examples of regulatory impact. Murray L. Wiedenbaum, Government - Mandated Price Increases (Washington D.C.: American Enterprise Institute, 1975).See Wiedenbaum, Government - Mandated Price Increases and Sowell, Knowledge and Decisions for a fuller discussion of these economic/market principles. Isaacs, The Coercive Utopians, p. 53.#6
 “Environment as Religion” http://www.crichton-official.com/speeches/speeches_quote05.html
 Crichton said “Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it's a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths...There's an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there's a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.” quoted on http://info-pollution.com/Crichton.htm
 see “YOU AREN'T WHAT YOU EAT: Fresh Fields sells the myth of a better world, one overpriced vegetable at a time”. by Stephanie Mencimer Washington City Paper Jan. 21-27 2000 http://www.drabruzzi.com/you_aren't_what_you_eat.htm ; see “Yuppie Environmentalism” by Wojtek Sokolowski
Institute for Policy Studies Johns Hopkins University 1996 and "The Oxymoronic Outdoor Products Industry"
by Hal Clifford, Colorado Central Magazine (October 1999, p.12) at http://www.drabruzzi.com/yuppie_environmentalism.htm But see http://www.organicfood.co.uk/stories/bigbusiness.html for a defense of the high prices of doing organic business.
graphs are found here: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm/bay/content.view/catid/68/cpid/304.htm
 Velikovsky, Immanuel 1950 Worlds in Collision, 1956 Earth in Upheaval see: http://www.knowledge.co.uk/velikovsky/
 Kevles, Daniel J (1999) Eugenics and human rights ; BMJ 319;435-438 http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/reprint/319/7207/435.pdf
 since most population growth occurs in areas of high illiteracy where the majority of the people on the earth live and since most growth rate decline occurs among the minority of inhabitants who live in affluent nations, regardless of their access to Ehrlich's work, even if the majority of consumers of books such as the Population Bomb deliberately reduced their fecundity it would have no impact on global population growth.
 Meadows, Donella H, Meadows DL, Renders J, Behrens III WW (1972) The limits to growth London:[London](2 Fisher St., WC1R 4QA): Earth Island Ltd
 full text of the declaration can be read here: http://www.unep.org/Documents.multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=97&ArticleID=1503
 N. Myers and J. L. Simon (1994) Scarcity or Abundance? (Norton, New York,).
 by Joseph L. Bast, Peter J. Hill, Richard C.Rue http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0761536604/ref=pd_sxp_elt_l1/002-6321503-2484813
 by Ronald Bailey (Editor), Competitive Enterprise Institute (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN%3D1568330286/jimnortonA/002-6321503-2484813)
 Clauson, Kevin L. (1990) Environmentalism: A modern idolatry http://www.reformed.org/webfiles/antithesis/v1n2/ant_v1n2_environ.html
 Wood, Dennis (2004) Five Billion Years of Global Change: A History of the Land. Guilford Press.
 Bryson, Bill (2003) A short history of nearly everything: New York Broadway Books
 “The End of Nature” Bill McKibben, The End of Nature, Anchor Books, New York, 1989).
 (From Michio Kaku, tk also see Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything, Doubleday, London, 2003. )
 Many thinkers today believe we should continue the revolutions started by Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo and further decenter human beings and their “geocentric” attitude by calling our home planet “Ocean” or “Water” instead of “Earth”. They feel that by no longer privileging the “geo” part of our heritage we open our minds to more creative understandings of our planet and its dynamics, and the real dependency we have on water, as opposed to earth. The hydroponics revolution in agriculture and the growth of aquaculture have shown people that “land” is not the prerequisite for human survival, but water surely is. Similarly, Lynn Margulis’ concept of the “hypersea” is showing that terrestrial success for any organism or ecology is also wholly dependant on the creation and maintenance of an aqueous environment on spaces we now conceive of as being “dry land”. In the long run, as we move to the liquid surface spaces and liquid inner spacesof our watery planet to sustain our ever growing population, and seek outer spaces to colonize, this water-based perspective may serve us better.
 Crick, F. H. C., and Orgel, L. E. (1973) "Directed Panspermia," Icarus, 19, 341
 Les passions de l'ame. Par René Des Cartes. A Paris, Chez Henry LeGras ... M.DC.XL.IX ... [1649.] 24 p.l.,286 p. 16 1/2 cm. ENGLISH: The Passions of the Soule in Three Books. The First, Treating of the Passions in Generall, and Occasionally of the Whole Nature of Man. The Second, of the Number, and Order of the Passions, and the Explication of the Six Primitive Ones. The Third, of Particular Passions. By R. des Cartes. And translated out of French into English. London, Printed for A.C. and are to be sold by J. Martin, and J. Ridley ... 1650. 15 p.l.,173 p. 14 cm. see RENÉ quoted in DESCARTES AND THE LEGACY OF MIND/BODY DUALISM online at http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/Mind/Descartes.html
 When Life Nearly Died: The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time (Hardcover)
by M. J. Benton, Michael J. Benton, Michael Benton "The topic of the book is the end-Permian extinction, an event less known to the average reader but of far greater impact than that of the KT boundary extinction of the dinosaurs. Although not necessarily as emotively compelling or as dramatic as the latter, the Permian devastation left the planet with only 4-10% of its previous species. It was a bottleneck of major consequence for subsequent biodiversity."
 Lovelock, J.E. (1988).The Ages of Gaia (W.W. Norton, New York)
 Sogin M. (1997) History assignment: when was the mitochondrion founded? Curr Opin Genet Dev. 1997 Dec;7(6):792-9
 Margulis L (1970) Origin of Eukaryotic Cells New Haven: Yale Univ. Press and Margulis, L (1993) Symbiosis in cell evolution: microbial communities in the Archean and Proterozoic eons New York: Freeman
 Margulis, Lynn and Sagan, Dorian (2000) What is Life? B Press, CA Los Angeles
 Diamond, Jared (1998) Why Sex is Fun: The Evolution of Human Sexuality London, Phoenix
 Sterelny, K and Griffiths PE (1999) Sex and Death: An Introduction to Philosophy of Biology University of Chicago Press, Chicago
 Other planets or moons may have life on them – even Mars, which we now know to contain water, may still surprise us by the presence of subsurface bacteria, but none that we have explored have anything like a biosphere.
 Steven M. Stanley, has outlined them in his book entitled, Extinction.
 Barnosky, Anthony D. and Christopher J. Bell, Steven D. Emslie, H. Thomas Goodwin, Jim I. Mead, Charles A. Repenning, Eric Scott, and Alan B. Shabel (2004) “Exceptional record of mid-Pleistocene vertebrates helps differentiate climatic from anthropogenic ecosystem perturbations” PNAS, Jun; 101: 9297 – 9302 http://www.pnas.org/cgi/citemap?id=pnas;101/25/9297
 Alroy John (2001) A Multispecies Overkill Simulation of the End-Pleistocene Megafaunal Mass Extinction
Science 8 June Vol. 292. no. 5523, pp. 1893 – 1896 see citation map at
 Brook, Barry W. and Bowman, David M. J. S. (2002) Explaining the Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions: Models, chronologies, and assumptions PNAS, Nov; 99: 14624 - 14627
 It is common to read statements such as “However, this distinct fauna, resembling modern-day soft-bodied organisms such as sea pens, jellyfish, and segmented worms also perished in a second extinction event at the close of the Vendian. This event, responsible for the demise of the Vendian organisms, may have been responsible for the ensuing diversification of the Cambrian shelly fauna.” And “The causes of the Triassic extinction are not well known, but popular explanations for its occurrence include global climatic cooling, extra-terrestrial impact, or comet showers. This extinction event is particularly important because it allowed the dinosaurs to radiate into terrestrial niches that were previously unavailable.”
 Trinkaus, E., & Shipman, P. (1993) The Neandertals: Changing the Image of Mankind. New York: Alfred A. Knopf Pub.
 Bar-Yosef O. and Pilbeam, D. (2000) The Geography of Neandertals and Modern Humans in Europe and the Greater Mediterranean (Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology and Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/291/5509/1725
 Gould, Stephen Jay (1997) "Kropotkin was no Crackpot" Natural History, July, 1997 reprinted at http://www.marxists.org/subject/science/essays/kropotkin.htm
 Margulis L 1998 Symbiotic planet: a new look at evolution New York: Basic Books
 Wolf Eric (1982)- Europe and the People Without History. Berkeley University of California Press
 The Greek motto "Every Act of Creation is Preceded by an Act of Destruction" was elaborately painted on the wall of a Massachusettes Prep School with a high percentage of Harvard University alumni; I visited this school with the Harvard Krokadiloes and was told by one of the graduates of the prep school "we are raised on this philosophy. It is our guiding principle."
 Mass Extinctions and Their Aftermath (Paperback)
by A. Hallam, P. B. Wignall
 Kropotkin PA (1909) Mutual aid; a factor of evolution New York, Doubleday, Page & company
 Proudhon, 1840 What is Property? An Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government online at http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/economics/proudhon/property/
 see footnote 80
 "Labyrinthodont amphibians, conodonts, and all marine reptiles(excluding ichthyosaurs) were eliminated and mammal-like reptiles, thecodonts, brachiopods, gastropods, and molluscs were severly affected by this event. The causes of the Triassic extinction are not well known, but popular explanations for its occurrence include global climatic cooling, extra-terrestrial impact, or comet showers. This extinction event is particularly important because it allowed the dinosaurs to radiate into terrestrial niches that were previously unavailable.
Two extinction events are speculated to have occurred in the Jurassic. The first of these events is recognized in Pleinsbachian age strat from Europe. This extinction eliminated more than eighty percent of marine bivalve species, along with various other shallow water species. The second crisis occurred near the end of the Jurassic, by an event that severly affected ammonoids, marine reptiles, and bivalves. Dinosaurs were also severly affected as stegosaurs and most types of sauropods did not survive into the Cretaceous period. This event is not well understood so few hypothese have yet been proposed for its occurrence
The early Oligocene extinction event was triggered by severe climatic and vegetational changes, and drastically affected land mammals. At this time, the world experienced a global cooling that shuffled many of the existing biomes. Tropical areas, such as jungles and rainforests, were replaced by more temperate savannahs and grasslands. This change in biomass forced dramatic changes in the distribution of Oligocene flora and fauna. Typically, forest dwellers declined as forested habitat became less abundant, and in their place, hoofed animals flourished due to the growing number of temperate grasslands. A number of predators also became extinct at this time, due primarily to the faunal changes. Major mammal groups that perished included mesonychids and creodonts
Neogene: Six major pulses of extinction have occurred since the beginning of late Miocene time. The first occurred about nine million years ago, and the most recent occurred only about eleven thousand years ago. This last crisis was restricted exclusively to large mammals, eliminating thirty-nine genera. Among the species eliminated were saber-toothed cats, mastodons, wooly mammoths, huge ground sloths, short-faced bears, and dire wolves. Causes for this extinction are also widely debated. Hypotheses for this extinction include global climatic cooling, and human over-hunting" http://hannover.park.org/Canada/Museum/extinction/patterns.html
 The Sixth Extinction : Patterns of Life and the Future of Humankind (Paperback)
by Richard E. Leakey, Roger Lewin (Contributor)
 White, Richard (1990) Environmental History, Ecology, and Meaning The Journal of American History, Vol. 76, No. 4. (Mar), pp. 1111-1116.
 Lewontin, R. C. (1983) in Evolution From Molecules to Men (ed. Bendall, D. S.) 273–285 (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge).
 Odling-Smee, J., Laland, K. & Feldman, M. Niche Construction: The Neglected Process in Evolution (Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, 2003) see review of niche constructivism in Nature, December 2005 http://www.nature.com/news/2005/051031/pf/438014a_pf.html
 Jones, Dan (2005) Evolutionary theory: Personal effects
Living things from bacteria to humans change their environment, but the consequences for evolution and ecology are only now being understood, or so the 'niche constructivists' claim. Dan Jones investigates. Nature magazine, December 2005
 Turner, B. L., II, William C. Clark, Robert W. Kates, John F. Richards, Jessica T. Mathews, and William B. Meyer, eds. 1990. The earth as transformed by human action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press with Clark University.
 Sauer, Carl O. (1956). The agency of man on earth. IN Wagner, Philip L. and Marvin Mikesell. (Eds.).1962. Readings in Cultural Geography. University of Chicago Press. SEE "Landscape and ecology" pps. 539-557.
 Sauer Carl O. (1940) Foreword to Historical Geography reprinted on line at http://www.colorado.edu/geography/giw/sauer-co/1941_fhg/1941_fhg.html
 Crosby AW (1972) The Columbian exchange: biological and cultural consequences of 1492
Westport, Conn., Greenwood Pub. Co.
 Tainter Joseph (1998) The Collapse of Complex Civilizations Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
 Gunder Frank, Andre (1994) World System History, 23 April University of Amsterdam
Prepared for presentation at the annual meeting of The New England Historical Association, Bentley College, Waltham, Mass., April 23, 1994 http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/10/034.html
 Wallerstein, Immanuel (1974) The Modern World System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World Economy in the Sixteenth Century (New York: Academic Press). A nice summary of this work can be found by Paul Halsall, 1997 in the Modern History Sourcebook at http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/wallerstein.html
 Jason W. Moore analyses the inertia of these changes in his 2002 paper “The Crisis of Feudalism: An Environmental History” (Organization & Environment, Vol. 15 no. 3, September 2002, pp. 301-322).
 from "The History of Scarcity", quoted on The CoEvolution Quarterly, Winter 1983, on line at http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Silence.html
 Stephane Gray of Cal Poly (1997) writes “Up to 1750, many villages had been enclosed a little at a time.Between 1750 and 1850 there were approximately 4,000 Enclosure Acts of Parliament” http://cla.calpoly.edu/~lcall/enclosures.html
 “In the TOC/G-S approach resource users are [considered] powerless to create new arrangements to prevent the demise of resource…The awareness of such collective issues as a factor creating risk … is [considered to be] related to levels of formal education. As education level rises, assessment of collective effects as important also rises.” P. 194, Land Economics Vol. 72. No. 2, May 1996 Questioning the Assumptions of the “Tragedy of the Commons” Model of Fisheries, David Feeny; Susan Hanna, Arthur F. McEvoy.Feeny, Hanna, and McEvoy
quoted on http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm199798/cmselect/cmenvtra/969/96906.htm
 The full poem can be found here: http://www.otus.oakland.edu/english/anderson/SwardyWell.htm
 Caldwell, Christopher (2003) review of “Man out of Time” in October 17 issue of Slate http://www.slate.com/id/2089950/
 Bate, Jonathan (2003) John Clare: A Biography Picador
 Coletta, W. John (2001) John Clare in FIFTY KEY THINKERS ON THE ENVIRONMENT Edited by Joy A. Palmer Advisory Editors: David E. Cooper and Peter Blaze Corcoran First published 2001 by Routledge London and New York
 Müller, Birgit (2004) Images of Nature as Designs for Czech Post-Socialist Society Journal of Political Ecology Vol. 11 online at http://dizzy.library.arizona.edu/ej/jpe/volume_11/Muller2004.pdf
 Foster JB 2000 Marx's Ecology: Materialism and Nature New York: Monthly Review Press
 Foster, John Bellamy, and Magdoff, Fred (1998) Liebig, Marx, and the depletion of soil fertility: relevance for today's agriculture Monthly Review, July-August online at http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1132/is_n3_v50/ai_21031831/print
 Vitousek P., Ehrlich P., Ehrlich A., Matson P. (1986), Human appropriation of the products of phtosynthesis, Bioscience, 36, 368,
 Wackernagel, M Rees WE (1996) Our ecological footprint: reducing human impact on the earth
Gabriola Island, BC; Philadelphia, PA
 Foster, James Bellamy (2000) Marx's Ecology (New York, Monthly Review Press)
 Gimenez, Martha E (1973) THE POPULATION ISSUE: MARX VS. MALTHUS Published in Den Ny Verden (Journal of the Institute for Development Research), Copenhagen, Denmark, December 1973. http://www.colorado.edu/Sociology/gimenez/work/popissue.html
 Gimenez writes: "At the micro level and from a Marxist perspective, a great step towards the understanding of population processes could be taken from what might tentatively be called, at this point, "the alienation theory of fertility."
The point of departure for the elaboration of this theory is Marx's analysis of alienation and of alienated labor. Under conditions of capitalist production the workers are alienated from themselves, from their fellow workers, from their work, and from the product of their work. Consequently...
" ...the worker feels himself at home only during his leisure time, whereas at work he feels homeless. His work is not voluntary but imposed, forced labor. It is not the satisfaction of a need, but only the means for satisfying other needs ... We arrive at the result that man (the worker) feelshimself to be freely active only in his animal functions--eating, drinking and procreating, or at most also in his personal adornment--while in his human functions he is reduced to an animal. Eating, drinking and procreating are of course also genuine human functions. But abstractly considered, apart from the environment of human activities, and turned into final and sole ends, they are animal functions" (Marx, 1964:125; our emphasis).
It is surprising the modernity of Marx's statement. Written more than 100 years ago, it accurately describes contemporary life under conditions of capitalist production. It is not surprising, though, that contemporary sociology regards this separation between the world of work (where workers are exploited, full of anxiety and forced into a ruthless competition with their fellow workers) and the world of leisure (where workers are turned into consumers of sex, children, consumer goods, mass entertainment, and "gourmet foods") as "functional for the maintenance of the system."
 This quote of Godwin's is found in Malthus' Essay on Population, chapter 10, http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~stephan/malthus/malthus.10.html
 for forest law policies in England see http://www.hants.gov.uk/newforest/history/hisintro.html, see also "FOREST LAWS." LoveToKnow 1911 Online Encyclopedia. © 2003, 2004 LoveToKnow.
 May, Peter J., Burby, Raymond J., Ericksen, Neil J. et al.. (1996) Environmental Management and Governance,
 Sweet, Timothy (1999) Economy, Ecology, and Utopia in Early Colonial Promotional LiteratureAmerican Literature 71.3 399-427 http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/american_literature/v071/71.3sweet.html#NOTEREF47
 Garwood , Christine (2004) Green Crusaders or Captives of Industry? The British Alkali Inspectorate and the Ethics of Environmental Decision Making, 1864-95 Annals of Science Volume 61, Number 1 / January pp 99-117
 Rather than being called 'environmental acts' per se, many of these were subsumed under 'factory acts', meant to improve 'working conditions'. For a list of Factory Acts from 1300 to 1899 in Britain see http://www.thepotteries.org/dates/work.htm
 Goldfarb Theodore D (1997) reprinted in Sources : notable selections in environmental studies
Guilford, Ct : Dushkin Pub. Group/Brown & Benchmark Publishers, chapter 8.1
 Garwood, op cit. see footnote 172.
 Tre Arrow: guilty, maybe; "eco-terrorist," not really Portland MetroBlogging December 10, 2005 http://portland.metblogs.com/archives/2005/12/tre_arrow_guilt.phtml
 Foster, J. B. (2000). E. Ray Lankester, ecological materialist: An introduction to Lankester’s "The Effacement of Nature by Man." Organization & Environment, 13(2), 233-235 http://oae.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/13/2/233?ijkey=86b29f0be4ef8fa015b15761e3d1889d7be68267&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha
 For the story of how Alexander the Great cut the Gordian knot in 333 BC see http://www.gordiansolutions.com/Alexander.htm, for the history of Midas’ knot of Gordium see http://www.gordiansolutions.com/TheKnot.htm
 VARROA BEE MITE, NOW RESISTANT TO MITICIDE, AGAIN THREATENS HONEYBEES
March 11, 1998 Writer: Cindy Spence http://www.napa.ufl.edu/98news/bees1.htm
 Archie and Mehitabel, from the life and times of archie and mehitabel by Don Marquis (1935) Doubleday and Co., reprinted pp. vii-viii in The Environmental Handbook edited by Garret DeBell, 1970. After discussing how humans and their civilization turned the Gobi and North Africa, which once teemed with human life and greenery into "deserts deserts deserts" the quotation ends "it won't be long now, it won't be long till earth is barren as the moon and sapless as a mumbled bone… dear boss, I relay this information without any fear that humanity will take warning and reform, signed archy"
 http://rightwingnews.com/quotes/wacko.php. This right wing website also has such notable quotes as:
“I suspect that eradicating small pox was wrong. It played an important part in balancing ecosystems”. -- John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal
“Human beings, as a species, have no more value than slugs”. -- John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal
“The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable but a good thing....This is not to say that the rise of human civilization is insignificant, but there is no way of showing that it will be much help to the world in the long run.” -- Economist editorial
“If radical environmentalists were to invent a disease to bring human populations back to sanity, it would probably be something like AIDS” -- Earth First! Newsletter
“Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, is not as important as a wild and healthy planets...Some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.” -- David Graber, biologist, National Park Service
“The collective needs of non-human species must take precedence over the needs and desires of humans”. -- Dr. Reed F. Noss, The Wildlands Project
“If I were reincarnated, I would wish to be returned to Earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels”. -- Prince Phillip, World Wildlife Fund
“Cannibalism is a "radical but realistic solution to the problem of overpopulation." -- Lyall Watson, The Financial Times, 15 July 1995
 Rand, Ayn. (1996) Atlas Shrugged. Signet Book; 35th Anniv edition. Appendix
 The actual quote was “Most biological reactions are chain reactions. To interact in a chain, these precisely built molecules must fit together most precisely, as the cog wheels of a Swiss watch do. But if this is so, then how can such a system develop at all? For if any one of the specific cog wheels in these chains is changed, then the whole system must simply become inoperative. Saying it can be improved by random mutation of one link, is like saying you could improve a Swiss watch by dropping it and thus bending one of its wheels or axes. To get a better watch, all the wheels must be changed simultaneously to make a good fit again." Albert Szent-Györgyi von Nagyrapolt (Nobel prize for Medicine in 1937). "Drive in Living Matter to Perfect Itself," Synthesis I, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 18 (1977) [winner of two Nobel Prizes for scientific research and Director of Research at the Institute for Muscle Research in Massachusetts]. quoted on http://www.wasdarwinright.net/sciencequotes-f.htm. Ecologists have extended the interdependent reactions within organisms to the reactions between and among organisms in an ecosytem. It is still unclear how much disruption and reorginazation systems at this macro level can take and remain functional.
 http://www.fws.gov/endangered/kids/resources/endanger.html , see also the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement blog VHEMT http://www.vhemt.de/misunderstandings.html
 John Kenneth Galbraith, “How Much Should a Country Consume?” in Henry Jarrett, ed., Perspectives on Conservation (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1958), pp. 91-92. quoted in Guha, Ramachandra (1989) "Radical American Environmentalism and Wilderness Preservation: A Third World Critique" in Environmental Ethics, Vol. 11, No.1 (Spring 1989), 71-83. http://www.class.uidaho.edu/envphilsummer/readings/Guha-Radical%20American%20Environmentalism.pdf
 Hay, P.A. (2002), A companion to environmental thought Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, p. 5 quoted in Hammond (2004)
 Atkinson, A. (2004): Appropriate Technologies in a Globalizing World? Paper presented to the conference Scientific cooperation balancing Social Demands with Technological Challenges of North-South Sustainable Development - What is at Stake? École Politechenique Fédérale de Lausanne, 12th-15th February.
 Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1962), p. 297.
 A nice history of bicycle technology is found at http://www.jimlangley.net/ride/bicyclehistorywh.html in the article “Myths and Milestones in Bicycle Evolution” by William Hudson. Jim Doherty’s views and the philosophy of bicycles as superior machines to cars can be found at http://www.culturechange.org/bkeblog.htm.
 Martin, Brian (2000) Directions for liberation science Philosophy and Social Action, Vol. 26, Nos. 1-2, January-June, pp. 9-21. http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/pubs/00psa.html#fn4
 Design Outlaws on the Ecological Frontier: Published by Knossus Publishers. ©2000 "The trailblazers who contributed to Design Outlaws reads like a who's who of ecological innovators and leaders. The list includes: Amory Lovins, Anthony Walmsley, Arthur Young, Brendan O' Reagan, Brian Danitz, Buckminster Fuller, Carol Franklin, Catherine Simon, Chris Zelov, Christopher Alexander, David Sellers, Douglas Adams, Duane Elgin, Edmund Bacon, Gail Vittori, James Wines, Jay Baldwin, Jean-Paul Polinere, John Allen, John Todd, Harold Cohen, Hazel Henderson, Hunter Lovins, Ian McHarg, Jaimie Lerner, Leslie Sauer, Mary Catherine Bateson, Mike Corbett, Paolo Soleri, Paul MacCready, Peter Calthorpe, Pliny Fisk, Steward Brand, Ted Nelson, Thomas Hughes, Tom Casey, Tony Gwilliam, and `William McDonough" http://www.designoutlaws.com/
 Capek Karl (1921) RUR: Rossum's Universal Robots - Praha: Aventinum
 Haraway, Donna, (1992) The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d Others
Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Nelson, Paula A. Treichler, eds., Cultural Studies (New York; Routledge, 1992) , pp. 295-337. online at http://faculty.pittstate.edu/~knichols/monster.html
 Hammond K. (2004) Monsters of modernity: Frankenstein and modern environmentalism
Cultural Geographies, Volume 11, Number 2, 1 April 2004, pp. 181-198(18) Hodder Arnold Journals
 The Hopeful Monsters of Evolution by David N. Menton, Ph.D Originally published in St. Louis MetroVoice, June 1994, Vol. 4, No. 6 http://www.gennet.org/facts/metro12.html
 Turner, Kerry (1992) Speculations on Weak and Strong Sustainability GEC-1992-26 : http://www.uea.ac.uk/env/cserge/pub/wp/gec/gec_1992_26.pdf
 The full text is available online at http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/butler-samuel/1872/erewhon/
 Interview--John Zerzan at http://www.primitivism.com/zerzan.htm; Zerzan refrains from critiquing tool use per se.
 Full text of Bacon's New Atlantis found at http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/bacon/atlantis.html
 quote from Frank Getlein (1957) in "Standard Treasury of the World's Great Paintings, Abrams NY, p. 294, commenting on Albrecht Durer's self portrait with a deliberate resemblance to Christ.
 Christy, Martha M., (1994) Your Own Perfect Medicine: The Incredible Proven Natural Miracle Cure That Medical Science Has Never Revealed! by Future Med, Inc., Scottsdale Arizona (USA) http://www.freedomdomain.com/health/jesus_diet.html
 Armstrong, John W. (1945) The Water of Life: A Treatise on Urine Therapy (State Mutual Books, NY http://www.wfmu.org/LCD/19/urine.html, see also Christy, Martha M. Your Own Perfect Medicine. Mesa, Arizona: Wishland Publishing, 2000. http://www.rotten.com/library/medicine/bodily-functions/pissing/drinking-pee/
 Lee, Paul A. Ph.D. (2000) Who Killed Cock Robin? The Ballad of Rachel Carson and the Historical Origins of the Environmental Crisis and Earth Day:An Earth Day, 2000, Talk, http://www.ecotopia.org/about/earthday2000.html
 Feenberg, Andrew (1998) Can Technology Incorporate Values? Marcuse's Answer to the Question of the Age
Text of a paper for the conference on The Legacy of Herbert Marcuse, University of California, Berkeley, November 7, 1998 http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/feenberg/marcuse.htm
 Blake, William (1804-1820) The New Jerusalem http://eserver.org/poetry/new-jerusalem.html
 Latour, Bruno (1993) We Have Never Been Modern, trans. Catherine Porter (Cambridge, Mass) 1-10, 25.
 Godin Seth (2001) Unleashing the ideavirus: stop marketing at people! turn your ideas into epidemics Chicago, Ill.: Hadleigh: Dearborn
 Lilly on Dolphins John C. Lilly, M.D. Humans of the Sea Published by Anchor Press/Doubleday in 1975 Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2002http://www.doyletics.com/_arj1/lillyond.htm
 Murdercide Science unravels the myth of suicide bombers By Michael Shermer in Scientific American, January 2006http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&articleID=0006A854-E67F-13A1-A67F83414B7F0104&pageNumber=1&catID=2 and see Virtual Jihad The Internet as the ideal terrorism recruiting tool By Luis Miguel Ariza, in Scientific American December 26, 2005 http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&colID=17&articleID=000B5155-2077-13A8-9E4D83414B7F0101
 As far as I know I made this term up, with the help of Ed Soja in one of his classes on postmodernism, to express a way of privileging space over time.
 Ryan Paul 2003. ‘Gender and Threeing, ecology and cyberspace’ Semiotica, 138-1/4 (2002), 371-392 online at http://www.degruyter.de/journals/semiotica/2002/pdf/138_371.pdf
 (Donald Worster, "History as Natural History: an Essay on Theory and Method," Pacific Historical Review, 53 (1984): 1-19, quotation on page 1.
 Blaut James M. (1999) Environmentalism and Eurocentrism Geographical Review, Vol. 89, No. 3. (Jul), pp. 391-408.
 According to Downs and Wiegert (1999), "Carrying capacity refers to the limit to population size built into the functioning of the supportive ecosystem, which limit, if surpassed, results in a die-off of population with possible damage to the ability of the ecosystem to function as before, at least within species-relevant time frames." P. 51.
 Hamilton, W.D. (1964). The genetical evolution of social behaviour I and II. — Journal of Theoretical Biology 7: 1-16 and 17-52
 Williams, G. C., 1966, Adaptation and Natural Selection, Princeton: Princeton University Press
 Trivers, R.L., 1971. ‘The Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism’, Quarterly Review of Biology, 46: 35-57
 Wilson E. O., 1975, Sociobiology: the New Synthesis, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press
 Dawkins, R., 1979, ‘Twelve Misunderstandings of Kin Selection’, Zeitschrift fur Tierpsychologie, 51: 184-200
 Sober, E. and Wilson D.S., 1998, Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press
 referenced in lecture notes http://biocourse.bio.tamu.edu/faculty/sweet/Biol357/LectureNotes017.pdf
 H.S. Smith 1935. The role of biotic factors in the determination of population density. J. Econ. Entomal 28: 873-898.
 Hans Selye was an endocrinologist, called the ‘Einstein of Medicine” who wrote about how stress creates endocrine and reproductive disorders in The Stress of Life (1956). He developed “the now-famous theory of the influence of stress on people's ability to cope with and adapt to the pressures of injury and disease” According to http://www.dushkin.com/connectext/psy/ch12/bio12.mhtml, “He discovered that patients with a variety of ailments manifested many similar symptoms, which he ultimately attributed to their bodies' efforts to respond to the stresses of being ill. He called this collection of symptoms--this separate stress disease--stress syndrome, or the general adaptation syndrome (GAS). The relationship between Selye’s work to population is referenced in “The Chemistry of Collapse” from Reg Morrison’s 1999The Spirit in the Gene, pages 130-134, on line at http://www.scientists4pr.org/chemistry_of_collapse.htm
 May, R.M. 1973. Stability and Complexity in Model Ecosystems. Princeton University Press
Hunter, Preston (1994) A Paradox of Evolution, online at http://www.adherents.com/misc/paradoxEvolution.html
 Morrison, Reg (1999) The Spirit in the Gene Humanity’s Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature
Ithaca, New York and London, England: Cornell University Press
 K D. Lafferty and R D. Holt, (2003). "How should environmental stress affect the population dynamics of disease?" Ecology Letters. 6 (7), pp. 654-664. Postprint available free at: http://repositories.cdlib.org/postprints/940
 Maynard Smith, John (1982) Evolution and the Theory of Games Cambridge Univerity Press
 R.A. Gardner and B.T. Gardner (1969), "Teaching Sign Language to a Chimpanzee", Science 165, 664-672.
 H.S. Terrace (1979). Nim: A chimpanzee who learned Sign Language New York: Knopf.
 Donald Worster, again, is the exception to this.
 The title is reminiscent of the statement in Disney's version of Felix Salten's Bambi "Man is in the Forest!"
 Carolyn Merchant has emphasized again and again that Nature as "Virgin", being "raped" by "Man" is a recurrent theme in environmentalisms based on a spiritual model of our environment.
 The Columbian exchange: biological and cultural consequences of 1492
AW Crosby - 1972 - Westport, Conn., Greenwood Pub. Co.
 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (1755) A Discourse on Inequality. Maurice Cranston, tr. London: Penguin, 1984.
 Krech III, Shepard (1999) The Ecological Indian: Myth and History (New York: W. W. Norton).
 Ellingson, Ter (2001) The Myth of the Noble Savage University of California Press
 Meek, Ronald (1976) Social Science and the Ignoble Savage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
 Wrone David R., Nelson Jr. Russell S. (Eds.) (1982) WHO'S THE SAVAGE? A Documentary History of the Mistreatment of the Native North Americans ISBN 0-89874-452-0
 Wolf, Eric (1982), Europe and the People without History. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.
 Bacon, Francis (1626) The New Atlantis Ideal Commonwealths (Colonial Press, New York, 1901)
 Huxley Aldous (1969) Island; a novel.[London] Distributed by Heron Books
 This is not to say that ethics are not at the base of the pyramid – doing business "as if people mattered" is the sin qua non of the quest for "appropriate" technology and defines the notion of "appropriateness". We must always be careful, when using the ecosystem model, of falling into the trap of believing that the evolution of life excludes the evolution of morality. As Tolstoy dictated to his children on his deathbed, " The views you have acquired about Darwinism, evolution, and the struggle for existence won't explain to you the meaning of your life and won't give you guidance in your actions, and a life without an explanation of its meaning and importance, and without the unfailing guidance that stems from it is a pitiful existence. Think about it. I say it, probably on the eve of my death, because I love you." (quoted in Stephen Jay Gould, 1997, "Kropotkin was no Crackpot")
 Meyer Kathleen (1989) How to shit in the woods: an environmentally sound approach to a lost art Ten Speed Press, Berkeley
 Cronon, William (1990) Modes of Prophecy and Production: Placing Nature in History
The Journal of American History, Vol. 76, No. 4. (Mar.), pp. 1122-1131.
 In Dubos, 1965:xvii
 W.M. Adams in Green Development: Environment and Sustainability in the Third World, p. 1.
 Sen, Amartya (1972) "Rational Fools: A critique of the behavioral foundations of economic theory", Philosophy and Public Affairs.
 Sen Amartya (1999) Development as Freedom (Oxford UP)
 P.M. (1980) Bolo-bolo verlag paranoia city English translation on line at http://www.cosmotop.de/utopia/e_bolo.php
 Illich Ivan (1982) Silence is a Commons:Computers are doing to communication what fences did to pastures and cars did to streets. his article is from Illich's remarks at the "Asahi Symposium Science and Man - The computer-managed Society," Tokyo, Japan, March 21, 1982. The ideas here are part of a book Illich is working on, The History of Scarcity.- Stewart BrandvThe CoEvolution Quarterly, Winter 1983 http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Silence.html
 quotes from http://www.epa.gov/Region2/library/quotes.htm
 There is a long tradition of using natural science to search for God. Rene Dubos' book "Man Adapting", for example, is part of the Silliman Foundation Lectures and contains the foreward:
"On the foundation established in memory of Mrs. Hepsa Ely Silliman, the President an Fellows of Yale University present an annual course of lectures designed to illustrate the presence and providence of God as manifested in the natural and moral world. It was the belief of the testator that any orderly presentation of the facts of nature or history contributed to this end more effectively than dogmatic or polemical theology, which should therefore be excluded from the scope of the lectures. The subjects are selected rather from the domains of natural science and history…"
 Postnikov, Viktor (2001) Eco-poetry in The Trumpeter Volume 17 Number 1 http://trumpeter.athabascau.ca/content/v17.1/postnikov.html
 Stein, Rachel. Shifting the Ground: American Women Writers' Revision of Nature, Gender and Race. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1997. A bibliography of ecocriticism literature is found at http://www.wsu.edu/~amerstu/ce/bib.html
 A History of the American Environmental Movement
For a version of this page using tables, click here.
This Timeline gives the dates of some of the most important events in the history of the American environmental movement with links to some web resources. For another timeline, one with links to many historical and legal documents, visit the Library of Congress web site. Please e-mail us at email@example.com to suggest other dates we should add, correct any mistakes, and let us know what dates we should put on this list when we expand it to include the environmental movement outside the U.S. This list includes some links to resources on the Web, giving more information about these events. If you know of any links that should be included on that list, please let us know.
* July 4, 1845: Henry David Thoreau moved to Walden Pond.
* 1847: George Perkins Marsh gave a speech to the Agricultural Society of Rutland County, Vermont. He called attention to the destructive impact of human activity on the land, especially through deforestation. He advocated a conservationist approach to the management of forested lands. The speech was published in 1847. It became the basis for his book Man and Nature or The Earth as Modified by Human Action, first published in 1864 and reprinted many times thereafter.
* 1864: Posthumous publication of Henry David Thoreau's The Maine Woods, in which Thoreau called for the establishment of "national preserves" of virgin forest.
* 1864: Congress passed legislation giving Yosemite Valley to the state of California as a park.
* 1866: The word "ecology" was coined by the German biologist Ernst Haeckel.
* 1876: Appalachian Mountain Club founded
* 1869: John Muir moved to Yosemite Valley.
* 1872: Congress passed legislation making Yellowstone the world's first official National Park.
* 1872: Congress passed the now-infamous Mining Law under which companies and individuals may buy the mining rights for public land thought to contain minerals for $5 per acre or less.
* 1886: Audubon Society founded
* September 25, 1890: Congress passed legislation establishing Sequoia National Park, California
* October 1, 1890: Congress passed legislation establishing Yosemite and General Grant National Parks, California.
* 1891: Congress passed the Forest Reserve Act, empowering the President to create "forest reserves." This created the legislative foundation for what became the National Forest system.
* June 4, 1892: Sierra Club incorporated with John Muir as President
* 1893: President Benjamin Harrison created the 13 million acres of forest reserves including four million acres covering much of the High Sierra.
* 1898: Gifford Pinchot was appointed chief of the Division of Forestry of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, begining an era of scientific forestry where, theoretically, clear-cutting was to be abandoned.
* 1901: First Sierra Club outing (to Tuolomne Meadows)
* 1903: Teddy Roosevelt visited Yosemite with Muir
* 1905: California legislature agreed to return Yosemite Valley to federal control
* March 15, 1910: The amazing Lakeview Gusher started spewing crude oil into the air of the San Joaquin Valley in California. Oil shot into the air at an estinated 125,000 barrels a day from a column of oil and sand 20 feet in diamter and 200 feet high (6 meters by 60 meters). The gushing continued at a reduced rate for 18 months and released approximately 9.4 million barrels. According to the San Joaquin Geological Society website, "Preachers and their flocks prayed that oil might not cover the earth and bring about its flaming destruction." Half the oil was captured and processed but the rest flowed into local rivers, agricultural land, the air and the water table.
* 1913: Congress authorized the dam at Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park
* 1915: California legislature authorized $10,000 to start planning and construction of the John Muir Trail
* 1916: National Park Service founded with Stephen Mather as President
* January, 1935: The Wilderness Society was founded. In the first issue of their magazine Living Wilderness, editor Robert Sterling Yard wrote, "The Wilderness Society is born of an emergency in conservation which admits of no delay. The craze is to build all the highways possible everywhere while billions may yet be borrowed from the unlucky future."
* October, 1948 An atmospheric inversion in Donora held the town under a cloud of gas from the Donora Zinc Works. Twenty people died. Public outcry over the incident forced the federal government to begin studying air pollution, it's causes, effects, and how to control it. This led to the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955, the ancestor of the Clear Air Act of 1970 (see below).<
* 1949: Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold published posthumously. LI>1952: David Brower became the first Executive Director of the Sierra Club. Under his leadership, the Club became America's foremost environmental protection organization.
* 1955: As a result of public pressure, the federal government dropped plans for a dam in Dinosaur National Monument. Building on the momentum generated by this success, the Wilderness Bill, drafted by Howard Zanhiser, was introduced into Congress by Hubert Humphrey and John Saylor.
* 1962: Silent Spring by Rachel Carson published. The book alerted the general public to the dangers of pesticides, particularly the dangers to humans. Yet she remained in the tradition of Muir, summarizing her main argument, "The 'control of nature' is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy, when it was supposed that nature exists for the convenience of man."
* 1964: The Wilderness Act passed, establishing a process for permanently protecting some lands from development.
* 1965: The Sierra Club brought suit to protect New York's Storm King Mountain from a power project. The case established a precedent, allowing the Club standing for a non-economic interest in the case.
* June, 1966: Sierra Club published full-page newspaper ads in the New York Times and Washington Post against building a dam that would flood the Grand Canyon. The next day, the IRS hand-delivered a suspension of the Club's tax-exempt status. This action boosted the Club's prestige and membership and helped in the fight to save the Canyon. The ad in question said simply, "This time it's the Grand Canyon they want to flood. The Grand Canyon."
* 1968: Grand Canyon dam plan killed.
* 1969: Santa Barbara Oil Spill -- Oil from Union Oil's offshore wells fouled beaches in Southern California and aroused public anger against pollution.
* 1969: National Environmental Policy Act passed and Environmental Protection Agency created. In this, the first major U.S. environmental legislation, Congress declared: "that it is the continuing policy of the Federal Government, in cooperation with State and local governments, and other concerned public and private organizations, to use all practicable means and measures, including financial and technical assistance, in a manner calculated to foster and promote the general welfare, to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans."2/ NEPA 101(a), 42 U.S.C. 4331(a).
* 1970: Clean Air Act passed, greatly expanding protection began by the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955.
* April 22, 1970: Earth Day
* 1972: DDT banned in US.
* 1972: Water Pollution Control Act passed over President Nixon's veto. The final tally was overwhelming: 52 to 12 in the Senate, 247 to 23 in the House.
* Dec. 28, 1973: The Endangered Species Act was passed. In the famous decision of 1977 (see below) the Supreme Court validated the principles of this Act. Since then, it has become one of the most powerful tools in the continuing effort to protect the environment in the U.S.
* June 15, 1977: The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the 1973 Endangered Species Act and stopped construction of the Tellico Dam.
In 1975, Law professor Zygmunt Plater and student Hiram Hill filed the first petition under the Endangered Species Act. They called on the Department of the Interior to list the snail darter as an endangered species. The snail darter is a small fish that lives in the Little Tennessee River below the Tellico dam site.
In 1976, zoologist David Etnier, who discovered the snail darter, joined Platner, Hill and others in filing a lawsuit to stop construction of the dam.
On May 25, 1976, a judge ruled that it was too late to stop the project. The government had already spent $80 million and the dam was almost finished. But the plaintiffs appealed and on June 15, 1977, in the case of Tennessee Valley Authority vs. Hill et al.., the Supreme Court ruled to suspend construction. Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote in his opinion, "It is clear that Congress intended to halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction whatever the cost."
It was important that such an insignificant species became the test case for the Act. It allowed the argument to proceed without the sort of emotion that would have been raised if some cute or famous species had been the first listed. Though opponants of environmental protection made many jokes about it, the decision over the snail darter made the Supreme Court's decision completely unambiguous. It doesn't matter whether people love the animal in question, or even know of it's existence. Extinction of species is bad and should be avoided.
* August, 1978: President Carter declared an emergency at Love Canal. The Love Canal scandal alerted the country to the long-term, hidden dangers of pollution of soil and groundwater.
* March 28, 1979: Three Mile Island nuclear power plant almost had a meltdown, giving the nuclear power industry a permanent black eye.
* 1980: Congress passed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, designating over100 million acres of parks, wildlife refuges, and wilderness areas.
* April 26, 1986: The Number Four reactor at Chernobyl suffered a disastrous explosion and fire. Thirty-one pople died in the days after the accident and many thousands were subjected to radiation. The nuclear power industry has never recovered from the effects of the publicity given to this, the worst nuclear accident to date.
* March 24, 1989: Exxon Valdez disaster.
* September 28, 1994: Mono Lake -- court decided minimum stream flows must be maintained.
* 1994: Unocal diluent spill discovered. -- An 8.5 million gallon spill of diluent was discovered at Unocal's Guadalupe oil field. This is the second largest known spill in California history -- so far. (See above, 1910, for the largest.)
* Dec. 10, 1997: A 23-year-old woman named Julia Butterfly Hill climbed into a 55-meter (180 foot) tall California Coast Redwood tree. Her aim was to prevent the destruction of the tree and of the forest where it had lived for a millennium.
* September 17, 1998: David "Gypsy" Chain was killed by a tree felled by employees of Pacific Lumber/Maxxam Corporation. Chain was in the forest protesting the destruction of some of the last remaining old-growth redwood trees in the world.
* December 18, 1999: Julia Butterfly Hill came down from Luna after concluding a deal with Pacific Lumber/Maxxam Corporation to save the tree and a three-acre buffer zone.
* February 16, 2005: The Kyoto Protocol comes into effect. Almost all countries in the world are now pledged to reduce the emission of gasses that contribute to global warming
John Evelyn’s Sylva, with its call for extensive tree planting and conservation.
Wood and Timber Preservation Bill of 1674 caused riots in the forest of Dean in 1695-6 against further regulation and made the govt “ even more reluctant to act decisively” despite “continuing heavy pressure from the Navy interest.”
“Such statutes as the Animal Welfare Act of 1966, The Marine Mammals Protection Act of 1972, and the Endangered Species Act of the following year, recognize something like rights to life and liberty in “lower” animals and thus represent a logical extension of this progressive and apparently inexorable trend… “a logical extrapolation of powerful liberal traditions as old as the republic” (Nash, p. 200 in McEvoy, p. 426).
Humanitarians, such as Henry Salt, who made up the early anticruelty movement in England and the United States. Rights oriented approach to human dealings with nonhuman nature.