Marris, “We Are Planet Managers”


1.      “For a long time, the assumption among environmentalists is that any place humans had changed -- by, say, logging, polluting, introducing new species or killing off old ones -- was besmirched and fouled by our touch. It was a fairly simple line of thought. The less the land or sea was altered, the better. Pristine was good.”

         a.      “Now we realize there is not land or sea w/o human fingerprints”: Nothing is pristine.

2.      That earth is not totally pristine implies a lot less than Marris seems to think it implies

3.      The fact that human’s have a some influence on all earth, does not count against the idea that the less the land or sea was altered the better (for nature),

         a.      Nor does it count against the idea that logging, polluting, introducing exotics and driving species extinct is “besmirch and foul” the earth.

         b.      Nor does it undermine the thought that the more pristine (the less un-pristine) the better.

4.      “We can write the whole planet off as irrecoverably ruined, or we can redefine “good” and “bad” as something other than pristine/touched by humans.”

         a.      No environmentalist holds that because an area has any small degree of human influence it is therefore worthless, totally unnatural, not worth protecting

5.      Is a decision to let nature take its course, itself to manage nature? Marris says yes:

         a.      “We can run it, in places, by not running it, by letting the weeds grow and species move and new ecosystems assemble themselves.

         b.      There is a very important difference between actively physically managing a natural area and making a “management decision” to not mange that area and let the nature there decide how it goes.

6.      Marris wants us to “Embrace our role as planet managers”

         a.      Though she worries that we are not ready for this role/power: “Our realization of our own power may have come before we have developed the skills or will to wield that power wisely. Let us rise to the occasion.”

         b.      Consider the idea that we have no right, we should not, wield this power even if we could do so wisely; Humans as managers of planet earth is not an acceptable role for humans.

Questions on Marris, “We Are Planet Managers”


1.      Given that the earth is not totally pristine (that humans have influenced in various degrees much of earth), does this mean that valuing the wilder areas of the planet is a mistake?

2.      Is the management decision to let nature take its course in an area to manage that area in the same way that actively deciding what happens in that area is to manage it?

3.      Evaluate the idea that humans are and should be planet managers.