Thanks to Jane Roberts for sending me this editorial from the Los Angeles Times. One of its authors, F. Herbert Bormann, was a professor of forestry when I was a graduate student at Yale University in the 1960s.
Early in our history it didn’t make any difference how we viewed our environment. We could change it, and if we didn’t like what we did to it, we could move and natural processes would soon obliterate whatever we had done. Over the years, models of our relationship to the environment have been based on religious views, with the world provided for us to dominate and subdue as described in Genesis, and philosophical views, seeing wisdom and virtue in nature as described by Thoreau.
But by far our most prevalent view of nature derives from a rudimentary human desire for more. This is the basis of the economic model that currently directs our relationships with one another and with our environment. It has produced stupendous human population growth and dramatic, deleterious effects on nature. Recognizing these effects, efforts have been marshaled to change the self-serving economic model with notions of Earth “stewardship,” eloquently advanced decades ago by then-Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, and, most recently, to infiltrate the economic model with “ecosystem services” by assigning monetary values to functions performed by the Earth that are beneficial to people.
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Current World Population
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