Questions on Managing Nature

1.         Should humans manage nature (or “manage Planet Earth”)? What reasons are there for thinking we should not do so? What are the reasons for thinking we have no choice but to do so? What reasons are their for thinking this involves a contradiction (e.g., a human managed natural area). Consider the idea that we should manage ourselves rather than nature.

2.         Explain the conflict between Big Horn Sheep and Mountain Lions. Does it make sense to just let nature take its course in this case? Why or why not? Is this relationship so influenced by humans that to do nothing is actually to have a large effect?

3.         Explain the idea that we now live in the “anthropocene.” Evaluate the claim that “this is the earth we have created and we must manage it with love and care” and “create new glories” rather than impossibly trying to restore nature to a mythical pristine (never-touched-by-man) state. Is the “anthropocene” something to be celebrated or bemoaned? Is the ideal of pristine wilderness a useful, helpful one that we should continue to value or one we need to reject?

4.         Is the Anthropocene a disaster? Is it a defeat for environmentalism? Is it an “ecological hell?” What do Marris and her colleagues think? What do you think?

5.         What is wrong with the notion of virgin, pristine wilderness according to Marris and colleagues?

6.         Is an important goal of environmentalism to “create new glories that contain heavy hand of man?” Give an example.

7.         Evaluate this claim: “This is the earth we have created.”

8.         Do humans have a duty to manage earth? Is it our job to sustain nature?

9.         Evaluate the idea that the earth is like a garden that humans need to nurture and take care of.

10.       If humans were offered a ring (by the gods) that would allow us to totally manage all of nature (including human nature), should we accept that ring? Imagine deciding whether we should have more rainforest and less deserts, less wind and more clouds, more lakes and islands, more snowstorms and fewer forest fires, more summer and less winter. What do you think of the prospects of humans deciding these things?