People had quite similar views on nature as well as wilderness for centuries. However, now the concept of nature and wildlife is transforming. The place of people in the ecosystem is also being reconsidered.
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Rolston and Callicott provide certain insights into the transforming concepts. Notably, the two articles contain ideas which make me think of people’s role in the planet’s life in a new way.
Clearly, people have affected the planet to a great extent and there can hardly be a place in the world where no traits of a human can be found. Callicott names a variety of traces including ozone wholes, acid rains, etc.
This is why Rolston’s arguments concerning the transformed ecosystem of Yellowstone are quite relevant. However, one of the most important ideas revealed in the articles is that people can never know what exactly wilderness is and especially was.
Rolston also notes that “the quest for pristine nature out of the past is a hopeless quest” as people can never know what was there before Europeans or even Native Americans had invaded the continent.
The authors claim that it is impossible to create a place where pristine nature can be found. More importantly, the authors stress that nature is a changing system where any conservation is unnatural and even hostile.
Therefore, there is no need in contemplating what kind of parks should be preserved as any part of the planet has the right to become a natural park where people can enjoy observing wilderness.
Rolston states that people should understand that dichotomy of people and nature is illusive as people are a part of nature.
Rolston insists that natural parks should not be a recreation place only, but they should be places where people are taught and, eventually, understand that they are a part of the perfect system.
In this respect, Callicott’s remarks concerning the place of people are especially valuable. Callicott states that “human works are no less natural than those of termites or elephants”.
For me, these remarks are somewhat revolutionary. People are not seen as mere parasites that corrupt the system. People are seen as an integral part of the system.
People’s creations are seen as natural, which is a new approach. According to this approach, Chicago as well as Yellowstone can be regarded as integral parts of the system of the planet.
As for me, there is no dichotomy of civilization and wilderness as people do follow basic laws of nature. Even though human’s impact on nature is obvious, people have not dramatically influenced the development of the planet.
However, it is essential to understand that there is a particular line which people cannot cross. Existence of such exemplary habitats as Chicago and Yellowstone can help people understand this.
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Humans should live in their habitats and occasionally visit places of the so-called wilderness (as people see it). In this way, people will learn to cherish the planet and avoid interfering in the process of the planet’s development.
Callicott. J. Baird (1992) “La nature est morte, vive la nature!” Hastings Center Report, vol. 22.5, pp. 140-153.
Rolston III, Holmes (2003) “Natural and unnatural, wild and cultural”, Western North American Naturalist, vol. 61.3, pp. 267–276.