Slate has an interesting article on a new trend arising in the environmental movement which is challenging the older view that wilderness is the best and that human activity and technology is an unmitigated disaster for the world. Rather, they’re focusing on how human development and the natural world can intertwine with each other in a sustainable way. A particularly interesting criticism of the older view is that
“ecologists and conservationists have grossly overstated the fragility of nature, frequently arguing that once an ecosystem is altered, it is gone forever.” This belief has flowed from the long-held notion…of a pristine nature that exists apart from people.
But that is a false construct that scientists and scholars have been demolishing the past few decades…
The article describes how, instead of forcibly violating private landowners’ rights to protect endangered species, there are examples of the government and private interests working together to balance environmental needs with continuing development.
What I appreciate about this view is that it doesn’t lead to the inevitable conclusion that the older environmentalism leads to, which is that human nature and the natural world are fundamentally incompatible. Rather, it provides hope that we can find a balance between development and preservation, and that even if we make mistakes, it doesn’t mean everything is irreversibly lost.