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Ecological Challenges and Conservation Conundrums Essays and Reflections for a Changing World von Wiens, John A. (eBook)

  • Erscheinungsdatum: 22.02.2016
  • Verlag: Wiley-Blackwell
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Ecological Challenges and Conservation Conundrums

Chapter 1 Conservation and change In 1862, early in the Civil War and 1 month before signing the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln sent his annual message to the Congress. His concluding words encapsulate the challenge facing conservation and the essential theme of this book: The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise - with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew . Conservation is at a crossroads. Change is everywhere. Habitat is being lost to crop production, draining of wetlands, and development at an alarming rate and fragmentation is leaving isolated remnants of habitat scattered like broken glass across a kitchen floor. The combination of climate change and sea-level rise threatens to overwhelm all other sources of environmental change. Protecting the natural world and conserving the richness of biological diversity require that we rethink what has worked in the past and consider fresh approaches. The context in which conservation is conducted is also changing. How people use lands and waters is undergoing transformation as the tentacles of urbanization reach farther into the rural countryside and population and economic growth increase the demands for goods and services. Economic globalization has created a web of interdependencies, so what happens in one place immediately sends waves across the globe. Changing societal attitudes about the environment, the natural world, and conservation are intertwined with changing political and cultural forces. How should conservation, and its ecological underpinnings, adjust to this interwoven mélange of change? How can ecological science be applied to advance the conservation of biological diversity-species, ecosystems, habitats, landscapes-in short, "nature"? Answering such questions requires that we consider the ambiguity about what "conservation" really means. For many people, the word conjures up images of pandas, tigers, polar bears, gorillas, and the like-the charismatic animals favored as icons by large conservation organizations. Others equate it with solar energy, clean water, or anything green. "Conservation" means different things to different people. Faced with ambiguity, one can always turn to the Oxford English Dictionary. The online dictionary offers two definitions: "preservation, protection, or restoration of the natural environment, natural ecosystems, vegetation, and wildlife," and"prevention of excessive or wasteful use of a resource." 1 These definitions mirror two distinctly different perspectives on conservation that have both historical and philosophical roots. The first definition guides the work of most conservation biologists, conservation organizations, and environmentalists. It is grounded in the natural philosophies of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, the activism of John Muir, and, later, in the land ethic of Aldo Leopold. 2 To these writers, nature has standing in and of itself-what environmental ethicists term intrinsic value. Consequently, people have a moral imperative to preserve and protect nature and wilderness. 3 This preservationist philosophy underlies the work of many nongovernmental conservation organizations. The view that nature has intrinsic value also motivates environmental activists, who use lobbying, litigation, and education to defend the environment. The second Oxford definition reflects a quite different perspective, following the utilitarian philosophies of John Stuart Mill and others. Nature is something to be used by people, and "conservation" means wise use and development of natural resources, not setting them aside in parks or wilderness. Nature's values are instrumental , determined by their value to people. Only people have intrinsic value, giving the

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    Format: ePUB
    Kopierschutz: AdobeDRM
    Seitenzahl: 344
    Erscheinungsdatum: 22.02.2016
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9781118895092
    Verlag: Wiley-Blackwell
    Größe: 12553 kBytes
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Ecological Challenges and Conservation Conundrums

Chapter 1
Conservation and change

In 1862, early in the Civil War and 1 month before signing the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln sent his annual message to the Congress. His concluding words encapsulate the challenge facing conservation and the essential theme of this book:

The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise - with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew .

Conservation is at a crossroads. Change is everywhere. Habitat is being lost to crop production, draining of wetlands, and development at an alarming rate and fragmentation is leaving isolated remnants of habitat scattered like broken glass across a kitchen floor. The combination of climate change and sea-level rise threatens to overwhelm all other sources of environmental change. Protecting the natural world and conserving the richness of biological diversity require that we rethink what has worked in the past and consider fresh approaches.

The context in which conservation is conducted is also changing. How people use lands and waters is undergoing transformation as the tentacles of urbanization reach farther into the rural countryside and population and economic growth increase the demands for goods and services. Economic globalization has created a web of interdependencies, so what happens in one place immediately sends waves across the globe. Changing societal attitudes about the environment, the natural world, and conservation are intertwined with changing political and cultural forces.

How should conservation, and its ecological underpinnings, adjust to this interwoven mélange of change? How can ecological science be applied to advance the conservation of biological diversity-species, ecosystems, habitats, landscapes-in short, "nature"? Answering such questions requires that we consider the ambiguity about what "conservation" really means. For many people, the word conjures up images of pandas, tigers, polar bears, gorillas, and the like-the charismatic animals favored as icons by large conservation organizations. Others equate it with solar energy, clean water, or anything green. "Conservation" means different things to different people.

Faced with ambiguity, one can always turn to the Oxford English Dictionary. The online dictionary offers two definitions: "preservation, protection, or restoration of the natural environment, natural ecosystems, vegetation, and wildlife," and"prevention of excessive or wasteful use of a resource." 1 These definitions mirror two distinctly different perspectives on conservation that have both historical and philosophical roots.

The first definition guides the work of most conservation biologists, conservation organizations, and environmentalists. It is grounded in the natural philosophies of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, the activism of John Muir, and, later, in the land ethic of Aldo Leopold. 2 To these writers, nature has standing in and of itself-what environmental ethicists term intrinsic value. Consequently, people have a moral imperative to preserve and protect nature and wilderness. 3 This preservationist philosophy underlies the work of many nongovernmental conservation organizations. The view that nature has intrinsic value also motivates environmental activists, who use lobbying, litigation, and education to defend the environment.

The second Oxford definition reflects a quite different perspective, following the utilitarian philosophies of John Stuart Mill and others. Nature is something to be used by people, and "conservation" means wise use and development of natural resources, not setting them aside in parks or wilderness. Nature's values are instrumental , determined by their value to people. Only people have intrinsic value, giving the

Weiterlesen weniger lesen

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