Environment and Society

Of the approaches and perspectives I’d say my perspective on the environment is probably with the Environmental Ethics chapter. I want to be more critically thinking and say that choosing just one or a few perspectives narrows thought too much, but I will choose one for the purposes of making a post. I will say that I often think in terms of what is ok to do and what is not ok to do to the environment. I’m not a fan of factory farms and I’m a big fan of the rewilding movement. I’ve read and written a lot on the subjects. I am a student of the biological sciences and can see where scientism make infect my world view. I also try not to be too anthro- or eco-centric.


Chapter 11: Wolves

As I’ve said in some of my older posts, wolves pose an interesting look into human’s interactions with nature. Our culture links the wolf directly with the wilderness, and depending on who you talk to that can make the wolf something beautiful or something savage.

Our violent history with the wolf has lead to eradication of the wolf from much of it’s historic range. Only a few decades ago did they start to be reintroduced to the United States at places like Yellowstone. Even still local farmers fear for their livelihoods. However, in those reintroduced areas wolves made a comeback and they were taken off the federal endangered species list, leaving the states to say what people can do to wolves. Too often wolves are killed by farmers as a result.

Trophic cascades are “the effects on subsequent (higher or lower) trophic levels after the elimination or reduction in numbers of individuals in one trophic level” (pg. 188) For a better description of trophic cascades, watch this video. In much of the United States the absence of wolves has allowed the deer population to skyrocket. The deer cause many car crashes that injure or kill humans and spread lime disease. Not only that, but the deer overgraze and keep sapling from growing up in many places. We try to cull the deer with hunting, but that proves to be ineffective. Often the best solution is to reintroduce wolves to control the deer population and that gives opportunities to many other animals to survive.

In recent years some environmentalists have started the rewilding movement, which is a movement to restore ecosystems all over the world to the way they were without human interference. One of the most important parts of this is to reintroduce apex predators to their natural habitats. This puts many at odds with local ranchers, who fear for their livelihoods. In many cases ranchers prefer to shoot on sight.

There are many cases in which ranchers work with environmentalist (among others) to manage wolves. This is called Stakeholder Management, in which groups with a stake in the matter work to a compromise on what should be done. This is what is seen in Minnesota, and is an example of what can be done in Yellowstone.

Why do you think the stigma on wolves exists?

What do you think is the best way to reintroduce wolves to environments populated by people?

Do you think we should reintroduce wolves to their old habitats?

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