Ronald Sandler

Global Warming (=GW) and Virtues of Ecological Restoration



2.      Assisted recovery

         a.      Improving the ecological integrity (=env quality) of a space

3.      Restoration

         a.      A type of assisted recovery of ecosystems that makes historical fidelity a priority

         b.      Restoration is assisted recovery with historicity

4.      Historicity or historical fidelity

         a.      “Incorporating elements from the past ecology of a place”

5.      Can be assisted recoveries that improve the ecosystem but not in a way that it more closely resembles earlier state

         a.      Examples of new landscapes that are better for us or for nature

                   i.       A strip mined mountain top in Montana planted with exotic tree species from Asia

                   ii.      Could put in a pond in a clear cut forest where there never was one where there never was one

         b.      Could invent new types of ecosystem (prairies next to wetlands)

6.      Problems with idea restoration requires historicity in sense of putting it back to previous ecology

         a.      One might argue for restoring it to what it would be now if humans had not intervened

         b.      Restoration of human damaged ecosystems should be limited to restoring them not to any earlier ecology, but to the ecology that was present before the human damage

                   i.       Consider restoring dinosaurs to a landscape we damaged

                   ii.      National Geographic on “De-extinction”



8.      Importance of acknowledging foregone global warming

                   i.       Foregone = previously determined

         b.      Because of already released greenhouse gases, a certain amount of global warming/climate change is already in the cards for us

         c.      Our treatment of environment must acknowledge this

9.      One implication:

         a.      Returning to climate conditions that would have existed had we not warmed/changed the world’s climates--if possible at all--would require massive and ill-advised technological interventions

10.    Two important features of global warming

         a.      Increased rate of ecological change

         b.      Increased uncertainty/unpredictability of ecological change

         c.      Examples

                   i.       Increased extreme weather events, increase climate variability, climatic tipping points lead to abrupt changes: The Day After Tomorrow:

                   ii.      Increased range of temperatures, sea levels, species ranges, precipitation, wind speeds

11.    This will make it much harder to adapt to climate change and failure to do so will have high economic and social and biological costs

12.    Our ecological future is accelerating away from out ecological past with increasing rapidity and it is increasingly unclear where it is going

13.    Implications of climate change on virtues of restoration

         a.      One: virtues of openness and accommodation become more important in restoration/assisted recovery

         b.      Two: Historical fidelity as a virtue of assisted recovery becomes less important

         c.      Three: Reconciliation becomes more important in assisted recovery

         d.      Four: Restoration as a type of assisted recovery becomes less important


14.    Ecological restoration has 3 features:

         a.      Ecological integrity, historicity, and design

15.    Ecological integrity: Restoration improves an area from ecological perspective; improves its ecological quality

         a.      Improves its health, or functioning, or biodiversity

         b.      E.g. Makes it more resilient, stable, self-maintaining, have fewer contaminants and so on

         c.      Removing dams, cleaning up pollution

         d.      Other conceptions of ecological integrity besides Sandler’s

                   i.       Ecosystem staying true to itself; no non-native species

                   ii.      Ecosystem remaining autonomous (naturalness part of integrity here)

                   iii.     Ecosystem health can conflict with ecological integrity; as when we improve ecosystem health by removing or introducing a predator to remove a natural insect pest

16.    Historicity: Restoration returns something to way it was previously

         a.      If an assisted recovery does not involve a return to the past, then it is not “restoration”

         b.      Could restorations ever degrade an environment in the sense of fail to enhance its ecological health/functioning?

                   i.       Yes: An ecosystem might be on a trajectory toward natural species extinction and then we degrade it (in a way that preserves that species); by restoring it, we put it back into a state where it will degrade (by driving the species extinct)

17.    Design: All restorations involve design, even if it is to replicate the design of nature (for we choose that rather than other goals)

         a.      Notice that when we restore to a previous state before humans damaged it, we might have to select which previous human damage event we are trying to predate the ecosystem



19.    Virtue is a character trait that disposes a person to respond well to values in the world (typically by promoting it)

         a.      These values include ones own flourishing, flourishing of other people, human-independent env values (aes values of worth of nonhumans)

         b.      Vices do the opposite

20.    Making people more virtuous is one goal of ecological restoration

         a.      Among appropriate goals of good restoration is moral improvements; restoration might encourage, for example a sense of place and a connection to a particular place

         b.      So one goal of good restoration is to try to inculcate virtues in humans....

21.    Katz’s critique of restoration is a virtue critique, but a mistaken one (says Sandler)

         a.      Katz thinks restoration is bad as encourages the vice of hubris and encourages people to dominate and control nature

         b.      Sandler agrees with others that restoration need not involve hubris

                   i.       Restoration can be approached with humility, caring ecological sensitivity, respect for nature, patience, sense of restitution, gratitude and engagement



23.    Virtues of openness and accommodation become more important due to global warming

         a.      In world that is less stable and predicable ecologically and in terms of climate, virtues of openness and accommodation become increasingly important

         b.      Control-oriented , domineering restorations make less sense

         c.      Need greater humility regarding our abilities

         d.      Patience will be important (recovery might take a long time)

         e.      Restraint on how strongly we impose our designs/desires on ecological space will be crucial

         f.       Increasingly important to allow recovering systems to take own course in response to factors we may not have predicted

         g.      Tolerance of these unanticipated changes will be needed



25.    Historical Fidelity becomes less important

         a.      Importance of this virtue is weakened due increased ecological uncertainty and variability

26.    One argument for historical fidelity is that it is a means to ecological integrity

         a.      What once worked in a place is more likely to work there again    

         b.      But climate change undermines this argument

         c.      The eco future is less likely to resemble the ecological past

                   i.       “The ecological futures of most places will be quite different from even their recent ecological pasts”

         d.      Examples

                   i.       Rainforests will likely turn to savannah

                   ii.      Desertification, reduction in glaciers and ice sheets, losses of coral reefs and flooding of coastal regions will also be likely

         e.      Historical ecosystems will increasingly be poor proxies for ecological integrity

         f.       Native species are increasingly less likely to be an assurance of ecologically friendliness

         g.      Too strong a commitment to historicity could become a form of ecological insensitivity to ongoing ecological changes and involve imposing ourselves against them

27.    Lobster/blue crab in Long Island Sound example

         a.      E.g., insisting we have Lobsters (and managing for sound fertile lobster habitat) rather than blue crabs in Long Island Sound, when it is warming and more suitable to blue crabs is problematic

28.    2nd argument for historical fidelity is based on natural value

         a.      Argument: Returning ecosystems to what they were before human damage makes them more natural, that is, free from human intervention

         b.      Sandler’s worry: But more intervention, not less, will be required to accomplish high levels of historicity given climate change

         c.      Natural value can come back if we let nature to develop independently

                   i.       But realizing historicity, given that eco future is moving away from eco past, will require greater intervention and control

         d.      Give GW, reestablishing natural value via assisted recovery will be increasingly difficult to achieve and so appeals to natural value will do less to justify historical fidelity

29.    In world of climate change, historical fidelity is less conducive to accomplishing ecological integrity and to reestablishing natural value and is for that reason less justified

         a.      Thus assisted recoveries will be less and less restorations



31.    GW increases importance of the virtue of reconciliation

         a.      Definition of reconciliation: “To bring oneself to accept”

         b.      Reconciliation: Accepting unwanted/undesirable changes that are either un-preventable or should not be resisted

                   i.       Namely changes caused by foregone global warming

         c.      Example: Blue crab rather than lobsters in Long Island Sound as the sound continues to warm

32.    Good ecological engagement (love and wonder towards nature) require accepting and not resisting too strongly ecological changes and losses

33.    Reconciliation not mere acknowledgment

         a.      But accepting unwelcome fact of foregone GW

         b.      Involves restraint and accepting changes that can’t or should not be prevented (like species loss)

         c.      Involves willingness to accept that there are aspects of the past we can’t put back

34.    Not resignation to GW beyond what is foregone

         a.      Work as hard as possible to reduce further GHG emissions and prevent further anthropogenetic climate change

35.    Reconciliation involves accommodating ourselves to the world

         a.      Adapting ourselves to it, rather than it to us

         b.      Pushing back futility and trying to remake things as they were is trying to remake the world

                   i.       Trying to adapt it to us, rather than us to it.

         c.      Worry: But if the new features of the global warming world are ones we are responsible for, then adapting to them, is to going along with the world as we’ve made it (not adapting to the world/nature)

                   i.       And refusing to accept changes that our global warming has caused is not trying to adapt the world to us but put the world back how it was before we messed with it.

Questions on Sandler’s Global Warming (=GW) and Virtues of Ecological Restoration

1.      What is assisted recovery? What is restoration? What is historical fidelity (or historicity)? How are they related? Use examples to explain. Give an example of an assisted recovery that is not a restoration.

2.      What is “foregone global warming?”

3.      What are the two feature of global warming/climate change that Sandler thinks will make it hard for us to adapt to it?

4.      What is the virtue of “reconciliation?” Why does Sandler think this virtue of will be increasingly important?

5.      What implications for restoration does Sandler think global warming has? Explain why.

6.      What is ecological integrity? Using an example, describe how the goal of historical fidelity and ecological integrity conflict? (Consider lobster versus blue crabs in Long Island Sound.)

7.      How does Sandler define virtue? Vice?

8.      What vice does Sandler think Katz finds in restoration? Does Sandler agree that restoration embodies this vice?

9.      What does Sandler think of the argument for historical fidelity that claims it’s a useful way to achieve ecological integrity?

10.    What does Sandler think about the argument for historical fidelity that claims it increases natural value (independence from humans)?

11.    Explain: Reconciliation involves accommodating ourselves to the world; Adapting ourselves to it, rather than it to us.