CHAPTER 8: THE DISUNITED COLOURS OF NATURE– “there is no single Green position.”(Pg.145)
green has many competing shades
– Ideas of nature have been a central feature of various ideologies (Pg.146)
1) Nature, capitalism, and socialism
– “Every culture projects its values onto nature and then holds them up as nature’s own authority…to justify its vision of society and the world.” (Pg.146)
– Scottish arch-theorist of capitalism
– “laws of nature sanctioned the accumulation of wealth.” (Pg.146)
– Social Darwinsim: wherein “competition drove the evolution of higher life forms, ensuring biological and social progress.” (Pg.146).
Survival of the fittest: emergence of powerful individuals and corporates.
– Sociobiology: revised Social Darwinism to incorporate a belief where in, nature laws were tied together with economic laws.
They both run hand in hand. Therefore, like the “process of naturalization, cut throat capitalism, a human creation” (Pg.147) must be accepted and obeyed.
– Eco-socialists: wary of appeals to nature
“nature and human nature and both malleable entities, historically and socially constructed.” (Pg.147)
– His case “relies heavily on his criticisms of capitalist mishandling of natural resources.” (Pg.147)
– Prior to capitalism there was a feudal relationship with nature, a sense of harmony
– During capitalism nature took on the role of a factor of production.
With more understanding of the science behind nature came more control over it.
– “All progress in capitalistic agriculture is a progress in the art, not only of robbing the labourer, but of robbing the soil.” (Pg.148)
Mainly through use of raw materials, failure to recycle, soil degradation, low wages, and poor working conditions.
– Holds a man comes before earth orientation.
– Stresses “capitalism’s sale of the earth [and] he notes the ill effects of most modes of production.” (Pg.148)
Eg. Overgrazing and deforestation
– Engles “urges us to remember that our actions may rebound on us.” (Pg.148)
– “The earth’s surface, climate, vegetation, fauna, and the human beings themselves have infinitely changed, and all this owing to human activity.” (Pg.149)
NOTE: To both Marx and Engles freedom represented the “emancipation from the problems of securing food, shelter, and fuel.” (Pg.149)
Marx’s Labour Theory of Value:
– “matter has no value aside from that imparted by the human labour needed for purposes of extraction and processing.” (Pg.150)
Nature is given no intrinsic value
– The fruits of the ‘wealth of nature’ are appropriated by humans.
– Only addressed the objectification of labour, not of nature.
2) The Greening of Socialism
School’ thinkers hypothesized the modern ecological dilemma had its source in more than just capitalism and class conflict.
“indefinitely spiraling levels of production were ecologically unsustainable and therefore unattainable.” (Pg.153).
Deep Ecology: concept created by Arne Naess.
– They “deny humans any right over nature, regardless of how they exercise authority.” (Pg.154)
– “real solutions are sought at the individual level.” (Pg.154)
We are directly responsible for our ecological footprint. One shouldn’t blame external authorities for our misdoings.
British Green Thinking:
– Ideas condemning zoos, vivisection, hunting, and fishing, and promoting eco camping, scouting, and the back to the future movement.
US Scholars attack on Elitism:
– Discuss the discrimination in the idea of ‘wilderness experience’ for the white middle class.
– Need to address environmental racism, ie. “the deliberate location of environmentally hazardous facilities in disempowered, low-income and ethnic/ racial minority communities.” (Pg.157)
– “Their goal is to redeem the city by re-conceptualizing ‘nature’ and ‘the environment’ as peoples’ ordinary daily living, working and playing spaces.” (Pg.157)
– Address the ignorance with respect to being damaged and already damaged environments.
Growth of Public Parks:
– “City parks offered some outlet for suffocated energies and suppressed aesthetic desires.” (Pg.160)
Public parks provide the common masses with a taste of nature, regardless of who you are.
3) Nature Beyond the Left
– Impact on birds, use of bird products, fashion statements, and fads.
Nazis and the Environment:
– Believed in superiority of those nearest to nature
– Christianity ruined pagan closeness to nature
– Creation of nature preserves; progressive forestry.
– “The German people need the forest like man needs wine… to warm the inner man.” (Pg.166)
– Their perspective of nature could be used to justify almost any Nazi viewpoint. Eg, “views on sexual orientation, racial purity, and woman’s status.” (Pg.170)
No homosexuality in nature. Also, “for many Nazis, the very existence of Jews, huddled in ‘lifeless’ cities apart from nature, was an affront to the national order.” (Pg.170)
Eco-radicals: believed humans to be cancerous growths on earth
James Lovelock: said that humans were like parasites on the body of earth.
CHAPTER 9: THE FUTURE OF NATURE Francis Fukuyama:
– He notes “that the twentieth century ‘has made all of us into deep historical pessimists.’”(Pg.173)
– But he believes that there is “still plenty of life left in the idea of history as progress.” (Pg.174)
– Singled out environmentalists as the greatest threat to history.
They undermine human domination over nature.
– We have changed and manipulated nature so much that we have blurred “the distinction between nature and culture.” (Pg. 174)
– His book, The End of Nature, addresses the dangers to traditional ideas of nature and culture caused by human induced climatic change.
– By altering the climate we are creating an artificial world, ie. the destruction of wilderness. (Pg.176)
1) The Mortality of the Earth and the End of Nature
– “Intellectuals at various times have viewed [the earth] as a mortal being well advanced in age and suffering from virtual exhaustion.” (Pg.175)
– With time more people are becoming aware of the ecological crises beginning to loom over our heads.
– McKibben’s defines nature as: “a certain set of human ideas about the world and our place in it.” (Pg.176)
Destruction of nature refers to the loss of the concept of nature, ie. wilderness.
He is critiqued for undermining the “extent to which deforestation, farming and hunting
have brought permanent damage.” (Pg.177)
– Prefers to abolish the concept and attachment to nature. He favours cultivated, man-molded land.
– He believes that we have more choices than the two stark alternatives: “deflowering nature or setting her on a pedestal beyond human reach.” (Pg.177)
2) Tampering with the Essence: Biotechnology
– Baconian perspective: nature is infinitely malleable. (Pg.178)
– There appears to be a continuous progress in biotechnology.
– 1987, US Supreme Court declares that life forms created by humans can be patented.
3) The Nature of Animals
– Part of this section addresses the different views individuals hold with respect to the relationship between humans and animals.
– Believed animals to be elevated above humans. Mainly because he believed them to, have a higher moral code, be less violent, and have greater intelligence.
– Animals have no souls.
– “Speech embodied human rationality as against the thoughtlessness of animals.” (Pg.180)
“[Speech] interpreted as an expression of the soul rather than of intelligence.” (Pg.180)
– Refused to accept that animals could have language.
– Argued that human and animal intelligence differ only in degree. “Nature as a hierarchy of states of consciousness.” (Pg.181)
– Maintained the categorical distinction between humans and animals.
Culture is what sets us apart from animals.
Animal speech: birds communicate with dialectics, and whales communicate with whale
4) The Postmodernist Challenge
Postmodernism: Refers to the fact that every aspect of reality is socially constructed via
language and signification; what really matters is that we create reality.
– There is no such thing as intrinsic truth, truth is made.
5) The ‘New’ Ecology– Nature is continuously changing even when not touched or manipulated by humans.
Old Ecology:– According to Clements and Odum, nature tends to move back to a state of equilibrium when left long enough undisturbed.New Ecology:
– There is no clear outcome known for nature. There exist several possible outcomes.
6) The Old Nature
– “nature’s powers are too immense for total conquest,” (Pg.188) says Donald Worster.
– The concept of ‘nature bats last’ or ‘nature’s revenge.’ (Pg.189)
Putting things that have been taken apart back together again.
“TO SAY THAT THERE IS HARDLY ANYTHING OR ANYWHERE THAT IS ENTIRELY NATURAL ANYMORE DOES NOT MEAN THAT THERE IS NO NATURE LEFT.” (Pg.189)
A) Does environmental quality hinder or facilitate economic growth? We simultaneously wish to
meet our own needs, without damage or alteration to the environment. Where is the balance?
B) Is it fair to pollute areas inhabited by the poor, ie. environmental racism? Why does it tend to
work this way?
C) What are consequences of shoving humanity of its pedestal? (Pg.171)
D) Is it alright to assume that progressing human technology will be able to repair our past mistakes in the future?
E) Is genetic engineering really an extension of well established methods of selective breeding?
And is it ethically correct for scientists to be playing the hand of god?
F) Is speech the only form of communication?