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At the beginning of the twentieth century, two perspectives have dominated the environmental movement in the United States. These two perspectives are the conservationist and the preservationist perspectives. The conservationist perspective argues for the careful use and management of natural resources for the benefit of many people, both in the short term and long term. Conservationists are concerned that there is a great need to ensure that there are enough resources for use by future generations. The preservationist perspective on the other hand advocates for the non-encroachment of natural ecosystems by a man so that the natural balance remains in such ecosystems remains the same. This essay will discuss how a man should approach the issue of environmental management in relation to the two perspectives.
The Mcphee Analysis
Mcphee’s article in which he engages top personalities from the two opposing sides of the environmentalist movement is contained in his book by the title Encounters with the Archdruid (1971) in which he tries to seek responses to some of his personal questions regarding how people influence the natural world. Mcphee’s work on the subject was inspired by a phone made to him by David Brower who was then the president of the Sierra Club and at the time a well-known conservationist in the United States.The author pairs Bower with a leading land developer in each of the three sections of his book. The prominent personalities featured in Mcphee’s article includes discussions by Charles Fraser who was a leading developer and miner and Floyd Dominy who was a dam builder and the then Director of the Federal Bureau of Land and Reclamation (Cooley 1994, 199)
Dominy thinks of David Bower as a selfish conservationist whose work can only benefit a few people. The encounter between Brower and Dominy is one that is centered on the meaning of conservation with the main question being, should conservation mean preservation of the wilderness or the prudent and varied use of land? Mcphee notes that conservationists regard dams as bringing more harm than good because the catastrophes associated with dams far outweigh their benefits. This can be best captured by Brower’s words when he declares” the conservation movement is as mystical and religious force, and possibly the reaction to dams is so violent because rivers are the ultimate metaphors of existence and dams destroy rivers…if you are against a dam, you are for a river ’’(Cooley 1994,199)
Contrary to this opinion, Dominy sees dams as a different form of conservation that comes with added benefits like flood control, impoundment of water, irrigation, and electricity, and sport. These benefits according to Dominy have a positive impact on the lives of many people. Dominy keeps his companions informed on the many benefits of dams as they travel along the Colorado River. Sat times their confrontations on the conservation issue often reach noisy levels with Brower sometimes walking away in anger. Brower has a strong passion for nature. His love for mountains and mountain climbing could explain why he dedicates a lot of energy to the conservation movement. Mcphee quotes him as saying that “I like mountains like granite. I particularly like the feel of the Sierra granite…I have an urge to get to the top. I like to get up there and see the world around me. A three-hundred and sixty-degree view is a nice thing to have” (Cooley 1994, 234)
This encounter between Brower and Dominy serves to illustrate the ambivalence that many people face today when they are faced with the challenge of either adopting one of the perspectives as outlined above in responding to environmental problems.
The case of Seton and Lobo presents another common dilemma that conservationists and preservationists have to encounter often, this is wild life –human conflicts. Seton is a naturalist and as a common expectation, he should be the one leading the preservation of the wolves. The case of Lobo again points out how wildlife-human conflict may make land-use difficult. Lobo had threatened the livelihoods of cattle ranchers in New Mexico for a long time by killing their cattle and threatening the security of the ranchers as well.The capture and death of Lobo marked the beginning of a movement that continues to advocate for the continued preservation of the wilderness (Nature 2010, Para 1-3)
There has been growing concern on the use of the world’s natural resources; these concerns revolve around the availability and possible reduction in the quality of these resources. The major contributors to these concerns are the higher consumption levels and the rising population. The intensifying global demand for resources is also expected to make environmental problems more pressing with increasing uncertainty regarding future availability of natural resources and the state of the environment. It is expected that these changes will affect economic growth and its sustainability in the near future (Tisdell 2005, 19)
Amid these growing concerns lies the question of how best should man approach environmental management. Effective results will not be forth coming if environmentalists continue relying entirely on one of the two main perspectives as introduced above. An integrated perspective that combines the two approaches can provide good answers on how to go about the emerging environmental management dilemmas. Such integrated approaches are useful in reducing social conflicts about policies intending to address environmental problems. Conservationists need to be willing to compromise and understand environmental alteration that is worth the cost and which ones are not. Integration in part also involves appealing to the predominant values that directly contribute to environmental degradation (Tisdell 2005, 31)
Governments should also take initiatives to address desirable population levels and desirable consumption levels of natural resources because these two factors are considered important in reducing the per capita consumption level and in the same ease pressure on natural resources. The goals of conservation and preservation can also be achieved through sustainable economic development. This involves careful utilization of species and ecosystems. It is important to also note that sustainable production differs by countries and communities.Societies that are heavily dependent on their natural resources for their subsistence such as agriculture, fisheries and forests should pay particular attention to sustainable production. Sustainable production in such countries should specifically address concerns of over fishing, over harvesting of terrestrial plants and animals, overstocking of grazing lands, over utilization of forests and wood lands (Tisdell 2005, 43)
Activities of urban cities are also important environmental concerns. The most important of these activities include the use of fossil energy in buildings, transport and economic activities, emission of green house gases and other forms of pollution, the consumption and of physical resources and production of wastes and the increasing releases of globally damaging pollutants like ozone depleters and heavy metals.The importance of addressing these concerns is because cities constitute large parts of their regional ecosystems and exert substantial impacts on the regional carrying capacity thresholds through concentration of activities. High levels of resource consumption in turn result in massive waste generation; this puts constant pressure on the urban environment (Selman 2000, 215).Success in implementing conservation and preservation programs in urban areas depends on proper evaluation. Selman outlines that a good evaluation should the following as the main components; the economic criteria, the social criteria and the environmental criteria.
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, there have been two main personalities that characterize the environmental movement within the United States; these include the conservationist and the conservationist approaches which offer differing accounts on the best way to respond to environmental management issues. Conservationists argue for the sustainable us of natural resources in a manner that is able to benefit many people while the preservationists work to ensure that there s no human encroachment in the wilderness citing numerous ways in which human activities have upset natural ecosystems with negative efforts.
Environmental management concerns are attributed mainly to rising population, economic growth and sustainability of this growth, in addition there are concerns for future availability of natural resources for use by future generations and the effect of urban cities on the environment. Human kind has altered the natural environment in a great way and is likely to change it further with passing time and economic growth. These patterns have important consequences for economic welfare and development, the society and the quality of life as well. Many of the changes that are associated with environmental damage are not beneficial to human kind and other species (Tisdell 2005, 20).
Cooley-John, R.1994. Earthly words: essays on contemporary American nature and environmental writers.Michigan: University of Michigan press.
Nature.2010. The wolf that changed America. Online. Web.
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Tisdell-Clement, A.2005. Economics of environmental conservation.Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Selman-Paul, H.2000. Environmental planning: the conservation and development of biophysical resources.London: Sage.