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Separating the Inseperable

August 15, 2013

The Guardian article Technology as our planet’s last best hope   is causing some interesting comment as it speaks of what is rapidly becoming a core issue in the Environmental movement., the place of technology and whether sparing the environment means sustainable development or trying to as much as possible separate the human and natural spheres.


But there is a problem with this view (and for the purposes of this post, we’ll be making it more black and white– in reality the environmental movement includes a vast range of positions, most of with are some mixture of modernist and traditional environmental attitudes), mainly the question of how much of the environment can be separated from mankind?


We know, for example, that prior to the arrival of the Europeans and the plagues that decimated Native Americans, the great wildernesses spoken of by later settlers were actually densely populated regions that had been shaped to their owners’ desires.  The same holds for nearly every other region– mankind has shaped the earth for centuries.  Because of that, the idea of  separation from nature may be impossible– we have been a part of the natural world, and in many cases a guiding part of it, ever since mankind became earth’s dominant species.


Does this mean the concept is fatally flawed?  Not at all. After all, withdrawing our presence from large parts is simply another decision mankind woudl be making about how it interacts with the natural world. Just don’t think it will be returning to any “untouched” state.  Mankind long ago put his imprint on the world around him, and this would just be another step in that process.



From → The Environment

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