Human Beings

This weeks readings were interesting to me. We got to see environmental ethics and how human beings play a role in this. Hull states “ecological science confirms that multiple, complex weblike interconnections exist in nature.” He explains it in three models called mechanistic, holistic, and dynamic. The mechanistic views nature as individual parts that are interchangeable and still serve a purpose for the whole even if changed. Holism states “The whole is greater than the sum.” Holism worries about the whole concept and how changing one thing can affect the overall whole. Dynamic says “complexity, nonlinearity, and randomness make predictions difficult; no matter how well we understand a system, small random events can result in large unpredicatable outcomes.” These views on how we look at the Earth and our use of it determine the actions taken to the Earth. Are we going to use it with disregard to how the environment is affective, or are we going to worry about every action trying to see the outcome, or lastly do we try to avoid the worst outcome and do the best we can and realize some random acts could change it completely?

“Darwinian evolution demoted humanity” and tried to make it seem that we came because of random acts of evolution. We are not the top of the food chain and the best that evolution can do, according to this we will continue to evolve and someday a newer and better something will become. According to this we are thought pattern we are interconnected to the Earth and all other things. We should be careful how we act towards it all because it is apart of us.

According the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy at the article Environmental Ethics western cultures are human centric about the environmental and at the least place human interest above all animals or plants or life. Lynn White Jr. article is referenced on the Christian belief that humans were placed on Earth to have dominion over it. This view and belief of being made in God’s image has lead to the anthropogenic time we live in and has changed the Earth to suit the needs of human beings.  

I do not believe most humans don’t care about the environment. I think most human beings are aware of it, but get focused on their own survival and needs that we have lost our way of taking care of the environment. We can make changes and more people are becoming aware (mostly as the cost of things go up because we have taken the natural resources and disease are spreading). Money and time must be spent to teach people to persuade them to understand their part.

I liked Leopold’s quote’s “That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics. (vii-ix)

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise. (224-5)” But I struggle with the fact that so much can be written without any actions. Leopold had great insight into the way nature was and our interactions but left us with out answers to fix it. We need to find the middle ground of preserving the Earth but also protecting our way of life.

Whether you believe we are the center of the universe and the Earth is for our taking, or whether we are just another piece in a large machine we must be aware that our actions are affecting our own future as a species.

Humans throughout history have tried to subdue the Earth, we have not been great at replenishing it. What would happen if the top species were the wolves or some other predator? Do think they would be aware of the environment or do you think they would take over until their was nothing left for them. In small environments where predators claim all the prey they move and many predators die off. If this is a model of nature, we must be careful as humans because we could become insufficient in the grand scheme if we use our resources and don’t replenish.



2 responses to “Human Beings

  1. This is an interesting and rich post, Jed. You’ve incorporated a lot of material. Maybe even a bit too much? You might have been better off splitting this into 2 or 3 more narrowly focused posts — perhaps one on Hull’s distinction between mechanistic, holistic, and dynamic views of ecology, one on the differing views of humanity as portrayed by evolutionary theory and by Christianity (or, rather, by a certain interpretation of Christianity — White is not exactly the most sympathetic reader of the Christian tradition), and one on the Leopoldian idea of community, for example.

    Having said that, let me ask if you might say a little more about what you mean when you say that we need to find a “middle ground” that involves both preserving the Earth but also protecting our way of life. This is an interesting and appealing suggestion, but are these goals really compatible? Many people worry that our way of life, as currently trending, is deeply problematic — for some, because it seems to conflict with the goal of preserving the Earth, but for others, because it actually seems to conflict with itself. That is, if a certain way of life is truly unsustainable, then it will ultimately be the cause of its own demise. And, if that’s the case, then the only way to protect it is to change it. What do you think? Is a change in our way of life necessary? And if so, then what exactly should we be working to protect?

  2. What I meant I think by “middle ground” to preserve our way off life, is the ability to be industrial without destroying environments. I believe if business can think about long term growth and ecological needs, we will be better off. Some companies do a good job of being environmentally consconious. The problem is when a company is only worried about making money. Some of these put factories in other countries with little to no environmental controls. If we as human race became aware and promoted taking care of the environement, such as recycling or worked on our carbon footprints maybe we would in the end save ourselves. America is a culture of instant, and this means we drive our car two minutes down the street, use fire starters with tons of chemicals to get a quick fire, etc. To save time and money we continually destroy our environment.
    So I would say yes, change is necessary. If we don’t protect the environment we will have nothing left to use. Our future generations will be living in biospheres or something like that.


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