I blog about environmental and social justice issues because I am very concerned about the health of the interdependent web of life of which we are a part.

Melting Arctic ice.......beautiful and frightening!

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Preconceived Ideas Rap Us On Our Shins

I am reading two books at once:  1491 by Charles C Mann and Integral Ecology by Esbjorn  (the o should have an umlaut) and Zimmerman. Curioulsy, a commonality between the two books exists.  Both books/ authors refer to environmentalists who long for a supposed pristine past - one where humans were closer to nature -and then demolish that argument. 
Many deep ecologists are epistemological realists who condemn post modern environmentalists for speaking of nature as a social construct. In so doing, deep ecologists call upon the very same modern, scientific worldview that they otherwise blame for contributing to environmental destruction.  (Integral Ecology, page 146)
Indians worked on a very large scale, transforming huge swathes of landscape for their own ends.( 1491, p 279) Faced with an ecological probem, the Indians fixed it. Rather than adapt to Nature, they created it. They were in the midst of terraforming the Amazon when Columbus showed up. {(1491 page 349) Please see Mann's appendix for an explanation of his use of the word "Indian.}
So our - my -  preconceived notion that nature is pristine is supported neither by logic nor by the practices of the First Nations of North and South America.    Perhaps we should picture an ideal world and ecosystem and work to create it.    

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