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Wilson’s “The Planetary Killer”. HMXP 102 Dr. Fike. Epigraphs. “ Homo sapiens , the serial killers of the biosphere” (par. 35).

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Wilson’s “The Planetary Killer”

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Wilson s the planetary killer l.jpg

Wilson’s “The Planetary Killer”

HMXP 102

Dr. Fike


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Epigraphs

  • “Homo sapiens, the serial killers of the biosphere” (par. 35).

  • “When, as subjects, we realize that we too can be objects, and when we know how that feels, we change. When we know matter as a subject, not just as an object, we are no longer the same” (J. Gary Sparks, At the Heart of Matter: Synchronicity and Jung’s Spiritual Testament 172).


Edward o wilson http 0 www xreferplus com library winthrop edu entry do id 5715019 hh 1 secid l.jpg

Edward O. Wilsonhttp://0-www.xreferplus.com.library.winthrop.edu/entry.do?id=5715019&hh=1&secid

  • “Educated at Alabama and Harvard, Wilson taught at Harvard from 1956. He is best known for his remarkable work on social insects and its wider implications in animal behaviour and evolution. In developing his theory on the interaction and equilibrium of isolated animal populations, he and D S Simberloff (1942 - ) experimented on some small islands in the Florida Keys. They first surveyed the insect species present (75 of them) and then eliminated all insect life by fumigation. Study of the recolonization of the islands by insects over some months showed that the same number of species became re-established, confirming their prediction that ‘a dynamic equilibrium number of species exists for any island’. Wilson went on to consider biological and genetic controls over social behaviour and organization in a variety of species in his book Sociobiology: the New Synthesis (1975), which virtually created a new subject, integrating ideas on the behaviour of a range of species from termites to man. The work has both stimulated valuable research and provoked vigorous discussion through its extension of ideas on animal behaviour to include human cultural and ethical conduct.”


Sociobiology http 0 www xreferplus com library winthrop edu entry do id 4785881 hh 1 secid l.jpg

Sociobiologyhttp://0-www.xreferplus.com.library.winthrop.edu/entry.do?id=4785881&hh=1&secid

  • “Sociobiology is one of many theories, or frameworks of thought, used to describe human behavior in society. Sociobiology is a recent social theory introduced by Edward O. Wilson (1929-) in the mid-1970s. Wilson is a biologist and an ethologist (one who studies animal groups in their natural environment) educated at the University of Alabama and Harvard University. He has extensively researched ants and other social insects, applying the results of his research to humans and other animals and creating the theory of sociobiology. His theory was first introduced in 1975 with the publication of Sociobiology: The New Synthesis.

  • “Sociobiology joins aspects of biological theory and sociological theory to create a separate theory that attempts to explains human behavior. Sociobiologists see a parallel between human behavior and animal behavior. It is through studying animal behavior that studies of human behavior can be enriched.”


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Wilson

  • Our strategy: To discuss things related to the text.

  • Today, perhaps more than ever before, our discussion depends on your participation.


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Question

  • How many “Rare, Threatened, & Endangered Species” do you think there were in the following places as of 2009?

    • York County

    • South Carolina


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Answers (as of 2009)

  • York County: 48 http://www.dnr.sc.gov/species/pdf/york.pdf

  • South Carolina: 730+

    http://www.dnr.sc.gov/species/pdf/SC_state_wide.pdf

  • Extinction is not just an issue in far-off Africa. It is literally a problem in our own back yards.


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Question about the Text

  • What causes species to go extinct?

  • Think here especially about what Wilson says about the Sumatran rhino and other endangered species.


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Possible Answers

  • Rapid population growth

  • Big cities

  • Animals are in our way

  • Poaching

  • Overuse in general

  • Pollution

  • Global warming

  • Overconsumption


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Group Activity

  • 10 minutes: Each of three groups looks at one of the first three quotations on the handout:

    • Genesis

    • Gore (think esp. about the word “story”)

    • Wilson

  • After gaining a firm understanding of what your quotation says, relate it to the other two. What insights follow from considering these quotations together?

  • Large-group discussion of your answers.


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Timeline

Aboriginal….Biblical….Descartes….Gore

Time Time* 1596-1650 Today

* This means the time when the Bible was written.


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Videos

  • Easter Island:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8jNZoiV97E

  • Conversation with E.O. Wilson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6w3tndTJ-hI


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Writing in Class

  • 5 minutes: Write about the relationship between the two quotations on conservation (the 4th and 5th quotations on your handout). How do the two quotations relate?

  • Large-group discussion of your answers.


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Paradigms

  • Brainstorm models and put them on the board.

  • What is the best/most appropriate model for our relationship to the environment?


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Examples of Possible Paradigms

  • Dynamic management

  • Preservation

  • Restoration

  • Do nothing—use natural resources indiscriminately

  • Token acts of environmentalism

  • Depend heavily on science

  • Declaring that our response to the energy crisis is “the moral equivalent of war” (Jimmy Carter during the Arab oil embargo)


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ANWR: A Specific Casehttp://www.answers.com/topic/alaska-north-slope

  • “Region, [northern] Alaska, sloping from the Brooks Range [north] to the Arctic Ocean. In 1968 large petroleum reserves were found in the Prudhoe Bay area. In 1977 the 800-mi (1,287 km) Trans-Alaska pipeline was completed to carry oil [south] to the port of Valdez, on the Pacific. Proposals for oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, [east] of Prudhoe Bay, have brought continuing controversy. A 2003 National Research Council report on drilling concluded that lasting environmental damage had resulted because the harsh climate slows natural recovery and because there is little incentive to restore areas where drilling has ceased.”


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ANWR: Pro and Con

  • Pro: See http://www.unc.edu/~money/geography/anwr1.html

  • Con: See your handout.

  • See next slide for a third perspective on human beings’ relationship to nature.


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A Very Different Attitude: Chief Seattle

All Sacred

“Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man. The white man’s dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful earth, for it is the mother of the red man. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man—all belong to the same family.

Not Easy

“So, when the Great Chief in Washington send word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us. The Great Chief sends word he will reserve a place so that we can live comfortably to ourselves. He will be our father and we will be his children. So we will consider your offer to buy our land. But it will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us. This shining water that moves in streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water’s murmur is the voice of my father’s father.”


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Discussion

  • How do you sort this out? Think through the issues and reach your own conclusion? Should we drill for oil in ANWR or not—and why?


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Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth

  • Orr, par. 11: “Global Warming will degrade the flora and fauna of familiar places….”

  • Global warming has implications for the fauna in Wilson’s text and for the proposed drilling in ANWR. It is the larger context in which environmental issues must be understood and dealt with.

  • Watch Scene 16, “The Arctic” (minutes 41-49).

  • Watch clip on permafrost and carbon dioxide and methane: “Update” (minutes 27:07-30:07).

  • Discussion?


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Antaeus

From http://ancienthistory.about.com/cs/herculespeople/p/antaeus.htm: 

  • “Antaeus, son of Gaia, was a Libyan giant whose strength appeared invincible. He challenged all travelers to a wrestling match which he invariably won. Upon winning he slaughtered his adversaries. That is, until he met Hercules.

  • “Hercules was on his way back from the Hesperides when the giant challenged the hero to a wrestling match. No matter how many times Hercules threw Antaeus off and tossed him to the ground, it did no good. If anything, the giant appeared rejuvenated from the encounter.

  • “Hercules eventually realized that the earth, Antaeus' mother [Gaia], was the source of his strength, so Hercules held the giant aloft until all his power had drained away. After he killed Antaeus, Hercules proceeded safely back to his task master, King Eurystheus.”


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Question

  • What would Wilson, Orr, and Gore want us to understand about Antaeus?

  • See Lewis Thomas’s essay, “Antaeus in Manhattan,” in The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher.


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Answer

WE

ARE

ANTAEUS! END


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