*Editor’s Note* The Outdoorsman No. 41 has just been released and while scanning through the contents, came across this gem and wanted to share immediately.
The conception of a “utopian philosophy of ecosystem perfection absent of all human activity” is such
intellectual rubbish, that it raises the hackles on my neck. I am glad to say, however, that Charles Elton, the father of modern ecology, had a similar view to mine, namely that ecosystems are expressions of positive feed back loops and thus “ungoverned” and stochastic in their expressions and consequently ever changing. “Ecosystems” even raise the question if they are systems, because there is nothing systematic in positive feed back. If you can understand why individuals are individuals, it is because they are controlled by negative feed back – negative! By contrast populations of organisms coming together in an ecosystem are never controlled – NEVER! – and are always subject to the whims and randomness of positive feed back. Know the difference between positive and negative feed back, and you are on the way of understanding both homeostasis in individuals and stochastic non-determinism in ecosystems. The “leave it alone” philosophy – if one can call it such – is a baseless faith, believing in a mythical “balance of nature”. It is worthless intellectually, ethically or morally – whatever the relation of ethics and morality. It is an expression of intellectual laziness, me-too ism, and a destructive force if expressed in policy. Like it or not we are the makers of our future today, and intellectually lazy, incompetent minds are no help for us in our crisis.
Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science.