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Environmental Philosophy

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Call for preserving biological diversity Last Updated on 2013-09-05 00:31:34 Two decades after Rio Earth Summit, scientists recommend international efforts to halt biodiversity losses. Such loss is compromising nature's ability to provide goods and services essential for human well-being, the scientists say. Ecologists Call for Preservation of Planet's Remaining Biological Diversity Twenty years after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 17 ecologists are calling for renewed international efforts to curb the loss of Earth's biological diversity. The loss is compromising nature's ability to provide goods and services essential for human well-being, the scientists say. Over the past two decades, strong scientific evidence has emerged showing that decline of the world's biological diversity reduces the productivity and sustainability of ecosystems, according to an international team led by the University of Michigan's Bradley Cardinale. It... More »
The Roots of Preservation in America: Emerson, Thoreau, and the Hudson River School Last Updated on 2009-04-02 00:00:00 Lead Author: Max Oelschlaeger Most obviously, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and the Hudson River School helped shape an emerging national identity for America in the nineteenth century. Viewed collectively, their work articulated America’s “coming of age,” a nation in the process of discovering itself as distinct from Europe. The writings of Emerson and Thoreau with the landscape paintings of the Hudson River School offered nuanced interpretations of the unique relations of the American people to the land. Clearly Emerson and the Hudson River painters believed that Nature gave proof of God’s Providence for the new nation—a theme readily understood, given the religious history of the colonists. What is less obvious is the living legacy of the Hudson River School, Emerson, and Thoreau. The American preservation movement has no equal in... More »
Hysteresis Last Updated on 2008-10-02 00:00:00 Hysteresis is a phenomenon of past actions constraining subsequent choices.[1] To put it another way, hysteresis consists in cumulative causes, through choices made, acting to yield cumulative effects over chronological time (as opposed to mechanical time). Hysteresis is resisted by science wishing to emulate the deterministic ideal of physics in which choices are precluded and uncertainty or contingency, over what may be termed mechanical time (for obvious reasons), is excluded because subsequent states are determined, uniquely, whatever the initial or starting conditions. The physics One way physics avoids dealing with hysteresis phenomena is by confining its attention to those properties of matter that are governed solely by present conditions understood in this strict sense: “when ‘present’ is located in Time” is irrelevant; as well, present... More »
Rachel Carson's Silent Spring: A brief history of ecology as a subversive subject Last Updated on 2007-03-25 00:00:00 In the late 1960s Paul Shepard, a human ecologist and philosopher, wrote the introduction for Subversive Science - a book that offered an interdisciplinary perspective on what was then termed "the ecological crisis." Shepard noted that a change in western perspective was absolutely necessary: "where now there is man-centeredness, even pathology of isolation and fear...ecology as applied to man faces the task of renewing a balanced view." Ecology was less important as a scientific discipline than for its holistic perspective. There is, Shepard maintained, much that is radical in ecology: "The ideological status of ecology is that of a resistance movement. Its Rachel Carsons and Aldo Leopolds are subversive (as Sears recently called ecology itself)." He concluded by noting that the ecological crisis could not be ameliorated by technical and... More »