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  1. CULTURAL MODELS of NATURE 5 September 2001 RD300

  2. Henry D. Thoreau (1817-1862) Naturalist, social reformer, author and philosopher. He wrote about the meaning of nature, about the need for wildness as a tonic for the spirit, and about individual rights and responsibilities. Most influential book: Walden, about the cycle of his life at Walden Pond, a lake about two miles from the center of Concord where he lived from 1845 until 1847. Learn more at

  3. Theodore Roosevelt’s Conservation Ideal: Optimal use: management of natural resources for the greatest good of the greatest number of people. A new ethic called “conservation”. John Muir’s competing ideal: Nature should be preserved for its own sake (late 19th century).

  4. "Hetch Hetchy Valley is a grand landscape garden, one of Nature's rarest and most precious mountain temples." - John MuirSource:

  5. The argument continues O’Shaughnessy Dam – Tuolumne River

  6. Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) American forester and conservationist. A Sand County Almanac (1949). “The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.” Learn more:

  7. Man does not exist apart from nature, but is himself a part of it. Author of Silent Spring (1962)

  8. Late 1960s and 1970s - proliferation of environmental groups. • Environmental litigation flourished. • EPA created, Clean Air Act (1970), Clean Water Act (1972)

  9. Love Canal - 1978 Love Canal, a neighborhood in the City of Niagara Falls, New York.

  10. The Third Wave - focus on being solution-oriented. • Mediation between industry and environmental interests. • Critics accuse Third Wavers of compromising their principles.

  11. Die Grünen The German Greens put green politics on the European political agenda in the early 1980s. In 1983 they won 28 seats in the Bundestag. Petra Kelly, 1947-1992

  12. Our Common Futurea.k.a. The Brundtland Report (1987) Defined sustainable development as: development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Three fundamental components to sustainable development: environmental protection, economic growth, and social equity. Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland

  13. Conservation versus Preservation • Conservationism - dominant environmental philosophy. • Linked closely with sustainable development. • Pragmatic approach. • Preservationism - • Muir - religious overtones. • Psychological and biological value of nature. Intrinsic value of nature.

  14. Kempton, Boster & Hartley (1995)Environmental Values in American Culture • What is a cultural model of nature? • Broad models about the interaction of nature and humanity. • Conceptual underpinnings of our thinking about the environment. • They reinforce and justify our environmental values. • The basis for reasoning about environmental issues.

  15. Three sets of general environmental models: • Models of nature as a limited resource upon which we rely. • Models of nature as balanced and interdependent. • Models of the causes of environmental concern.

  16. Human Reliance on a Limited World • Common theme of many study interviews. • Humans are part of the environment and depend upon it. • The earth is viewed as a ‘closed system’. • Respondents speak using metaphors (e.g., earth as a bacterial colony).

  17. Human Reliance on a Limited World • Spaceship earth (i.e. limited room and resources). • Humans must live in harmony with nature in order to survive. • Destroying the environment is like burning down your home. “Ecology” is derived from the Greek word for “home”. • The natural environment is a limited resource meeting our physical and psychological needs.

  18. Three sets of general environmental models: • Models of nature as a limited resource upon which we rely. • Models of nature as balanced and interdependent. • Models of the causes of environmental concern.

  19. Nature as Interdependent, Balanced, and Unpredictable • Models about interactions within nature. • The different parts of nature (e.g. species) are so interdependent that changing one can result in chain reactions and ripple effects. The balance of nature. • The interdependencies within nature are too complex for humans to predict the effects of human interventions.

  20. If we cannot predict these interactions then humans should not create disturbance. Don’t fool with nature. Noninterventionist model. • Some human interventions (e.g. agriculture) are so familiar that they seem more like second nature than human disturbance. • Critics of non-interventionists believe that humanity could actively manage nature.

  21. Cultural vs Scientific Models of Ecology • American cultural models draw on older ecological concepts now in scientific disfavor. • Ecologists do not believe that all species interrelationships are fragile interdependencies. • The cultural models are selective simplifications of ecological models.

  22. Three sets of general environmental models: • Models of nature as a limited resource upon which we rely. • Models of nature as balanced and interdependent. • Models of the causes of environmental concern.

  23. Models of the Causes of Environmental Concern • Perception that our market-driven economic system is at odds with the environment. • Perceived relationship between contact with and appreciation of nature and level of environmentalism. • Perception that indigenous and older small-scale societies were more environmentally aware and lived in balance with their environment.

  24. What are the origins of our cultural models of nature? • Popular writings of science. • Schooling. • Media. • Environmental advocacy organizations. • Authors such as Thoreau, Muir and Carson. • Dr. Seuss.

  25. VALUES • Values are central attitudes about what is desirable or what is right or wrong. • They provide an abstract frame of reference for perceiving and organizing experience and for choosing among courses of action. • Attitudes and values can be measured.

  26. INFLUENCES ON VALUES • Religion • Education • Family • Economics • Friends • Media • Experiences • Ethnicity • Gender • Culture

  27. WORLDVIEW • General conception of the nature of the world, particularly as containing or implying a system of values. • Sometimes known by the German word “Weltanschauung”.

  28. ANTHROPOCENTRIC WORLDVIEW • Dominant western perspective of the world. • Humans have a different status in the world. • The non-human world is valued in terms of its economic value to humans. • Focus is on the short-term and reliance on “technological fixes”. • Concern for future generations is a strong value.

  29. GENESIS And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth……... …….. and God said upon them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

  30. Is the Judeo-Christian view of nature intrinsically anthropocentric?

  31. BIOCENTRIC WORLDVIEW • Nature is respected for its own sake, above and beyond its usefulness or relationship to mankind. • Nature itself has rights. • Also known as “ecocentric” worldview.

  32. How far should rights be extended to non-humans?

  33. Deep ecologists Self-reliance soft technologists Environmental managers Cornucopians O’Riordan’s Continuum of Environmentalism Ecocentrism Technocentrism

  34. TECHNOCENTRISM • Economic and scientific rationality. • Expert driven decision making. • Support efficient environmental management. • Technological optimists.

  35. Technocentrism • Form of anthropocentrism. • Two types: • cornucopians • environmental managers

  36. Cornucopians • Optimism about man’s ability to improve the lot of the world’s people. • Faith in scientific and technological expertise to provide the answers. • All impediments can be overcome given a will, ingenuity and sufficient resources arising out of growth. • Pro-growth goals define the rationality of project appraisal and policy formulation.

  37. Environmental Managers • Economic growth and resource exploitation can continue assuming: • suitable economic adjustments to taxes, etc. • improvements in the legal rights to a minimum level of environmental quality. • compensation to those who experience adverse environmental and/or social effects. • Supports multi-stakeholder decision making and consensus building.

  38. ECOCENTRISM • Similar to biocentric worldview. • Reverses the hierarchy in the human-nature relationship. • Two types: • self-reliance soft technologists • deep ecologists

  39. Self-reliance soft technologists: • Emphasis on smallness of scale. • Lack of faith in large scale technology. • Local rather than centralized decision making. • Materialism for its own sake is wrong.

  40. Deep ecologists: • Intrinsic importance of nature for the humanity of man. • Ecological and other natural laws dictate human morality. • All things have intrinsic value. Biorights. • Originated with the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess (1980s).

  41. Where do you fall on the environmentalism continuum?CornucopianEnvironmental managerSoft technologistDeep ecologist

  42. 1. The weather has been more variable and unpredictable recently around here.

  43. GROUP COMPARISONS How are the following pairs of groups similar and dissimilar? • G1: Sierra Club versus Sawmill Workers • G2: Sierra Club versus Drycleaners • G3: Sierra Club versus Earth First • G4: Lay Public versus Drycleaners • G5: Lay public versus Earth First • G6: Earth First versus Sawmill Workers • G7: Lay public versus Sierra Club • G8: Lay public versus Sawmill Workers