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The Myth of Pristine Nature - A review of Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World
Reason ^ | August 16, 2011 | Ronald Bailey

Posted on 08/19/2011 6:01:05 PM PDT by neverdem

“Nature is almost everywhere. But wherever it is, there is one thing nature is not: pristine,” writes science journalist Emma Marris in her engaging new book Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World. She adds, “We must temper our romantic notion of untrammeled wilderness and find room next to it for the more nuanced notion of a global, half-wild rambunctious garden, tended by us.” Marris’ message will discomfort both environmental activists and most ecologists who are in thrall to the damaging cult of pristine wilderness and the false ideology of the balance of nature. But it should encourage and inspire the rest of us.

Marris begins by exposing the vacuity of the notion of the ecological baseline. “For many conservationists, restoration to a pre-human or a pre-European baseline is seen as healing a wounded or sick nature,” explains Marris. “For others, it is an ethical duty. We broke it; therefore we must fix it. Baselines thus typically don’t act as a scientific before to compare with an after. They become the good, the goal, the one correct state.” What is so good about historical ecosystems? I too have noted that ecologists when asked this same question become almost inarticulate. They just know that historical ecosystems are better.

So many ecologists set the historical baseline as the condition of ecosystems before Europeans arrived. Why? The fact is that primitive peoples killed off the largest species in North and South America, Australia and Pacific Islands thousands of years ago. For example, after people showed up about 14,000 years ago, North America lost 60 or so species of tasty mammals that weighed over 100 pounds, including giant ground sloths, mammoths, mastodons, cheetahs, camels, and glyptodonts.

Marris argues that the cult of pristine wilderness was created by nature romantics like John Muir...

(Excerpt) Read more at reason.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: conservation; ecology; environmentalism; nature; science

1 posted on 08/19/2011 6:01:13 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

Whoa, I haven’t had Glyphodont in like 14,000 years.
Mmmmmmm.


2 posted on 08/19/2011 6:04:30 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: neverdem

Just before the sun went down I stepped outside in time to see a large owl take off over the lake with a small rabbit in its claws. A bald eagle was photographed in my neighbor’s yard last month. I see wild turkeys wandering through my neighbor’s yards every so often.

I live in a small town.


3 posted on 08/19/2011 6:07:17 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin)
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To: neverdem

So much BS, so much for reason.


4 posted on 08/19/2011 6:10:19 PM PDT by Ron C.
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To: neverdem
The natives burned the trees, before the ‘white man’. We have the midwest as a consequence. The natives still burn south of us. It's not bad or good. It just is.
5 posted on 08/19/2011 6:11:23 PM PDT by allmost
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To: neverdem

Read the book 1491. Fascinating. There is barely an acre of land in north or south American that wasn’t touched by human hands before Columbus landed.


6 posted on 08/19/2011 6:30:02 PM PDT by DManA
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To: DManA

I love nature but I’m happy I don’t have to worry about getting attacked by a bear in my yard. With all the coyotes I’m not real anxious to wander the woods at night.


7 posted on 08/19/2011 6:34:55 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin)
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To: narses; secret garden; xsmommy; CholeraJoe; neverdem; Nachum; SmithL; MHGinTN; SunkenCiv; patton

Hah. Figured I needed to ping you about this one ... Then I saw who posted it. 8<)

I would dare say that most liberal-socialist-naturalists-enviro’s would specifically choose to worship their “god” Gaea in their “heaven” (pre-white north America) over today’s evil and corporate society.

And that includes probably 85% of the people who are working 1600 Penn Ave.


8 posted on 08/19/2011 6:42:49 PM PDT by Robert A. Cook, PE (I can only donate monthly, but socialists' ABBCNNBCBS continue to lie every day!)
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To: Robert A. Cook, PE

Most of them are urban turds who seldom get closer to nature than grass more than ankle deep.


9 posted on 08/19/2011 6:55:45 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin)
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To: Robert A. Cook, PE

She wonderfully makes the case that nature naturates with whatever is at hand. Biodiversity is a democratic free for all. I see it in little fish tanks where some species trounce others for a time only to be overtaken by a foreigner which in turn is chopped down to size by the sheer variety of life that springs up effortlessly and uniquely in each little biosphere.


10 posted on 08/19/2011 6:58:50 PM PDT by Louis Foxwell (O assumes the trappings of the presidency, not its mantle. He is not presidential.)
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To: neverdem

bfl


11 posted on 08/19/2011 7:31:45 PM PDT by gibsosa
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To: neverdem
the more nuanced notion of a global, half-wild rambunctious garden, tended by us.

Huh, sounds kind of familiar....

"And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." (Genesis 2:15)

12 posted on 08/19/2011 8:37:53 PM PDT by AnalogReigns
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To: El Gato; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Robert A. Cook, PE; lepton; LadyDoc; jb6; tiamat; PGalt; Dianna; ...
Suicide-Bombing Bacteria Could Fight Infections

Treating diabetes (metformin + exercise NG?)

New CU-Boulder study reveals bacteria from dog feces in outdoor air of urbanized air

Biologists' discovery may force revision of biology textbooks

FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.

13 posted on 08/19/2011 11:52:25 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: Robert A. Cook, PE

A peculiar article.


14 posted on 08/20/2011 2:32:12 AM PDT by secret garden (Why procrastinate when you can perendinate?)
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To: neverdem

There was a recent thread about the decline of vulture populations, in India I believe.

Meanwhile where I live, the vulture population seems to be growing. The local species, the Turkey vulture is obviously doing well be cause you see them all over. They congregate in the evening and in the early morning you can see lots of them in the state park.

The reason is there is more food, more dead stuff. There is more food because there are more small animals populating human spaces. That would be my neighborhood, actually my yard. The critters include squirrels, chipmunks, possums, coons, and skunks. There are likely a fox or two but they are not seen. There are deer in the neighborhood frequently. Near by, there is an overabundance of Canada Geese and Turkeys are now common.

The point is, the area, that is the suburban neighborhood, is now the pristine wilderness where animals of many species in fairly great abundance have managed to adapt and multiply. now


15 posted on 08/20/2011 4:30:03 AM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 ....Rats carry plague)
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To: neverdem

This is a very refreshing article. I googled Emma Marris’ website and there is a trailer of her explaining her book. This article criticizes the “pristine nature”, “Garden of Eden” approach to ecology that says, “The perfect time, the “right” ecology, was before Europeans came to North America.” I don’t know what ecologists would say the perfect ecology is for India, or China, or Japan....Anyway, Marris is publicizing a different point of view that sees ecosystems as dynamic, and not static, and rates them on their merits, as providers of ecosystem services or as the rate of species diversity in them, and finding that so-called native ecosystems don’t rate higher than so-called novel ecosystems. I will order her book, Rambunctious Garden, and she mentions some researchers who are moving away from this Garden of Eden viewpoint. I think this is a worthwhile trend to learn about.


16 posted on 08/20/2011 4:32:56 AM PDT by Old_Grouch (64 and AARP-free. Monthly FR contributor.)
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