Lecture: Global Environmental Issues Essay

Submitted By elliebunnie11
Words: 1071
Pages: 5

Ellie Loeffler
Dr. Gary Gress
Global Environmental Issues

Emma Marris Lecture
The Ethics of the Rambunctious Garden
Sponsored by the Presidential Dream Course Mind-Bending Morality, Law and Science
September 11, 2013

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community, it is wrong when it tends otherwise.”- Aldo Leopold

For my outside connection, I attended the lecture “The Ethics of Rambunctious Garden” given by Emma Marris, author of The Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World. I found Emma’s lecture to be extremely fascinating. Her ideas on conservation are controversial and optimistic. She spoke in a charming and authoritative way, leaving me with a feeling of trust and awareness of her passion for nature. I enjoyed having a complete understanding of all the issues she referred to, from being in our Global Environmental Issues class! In the first few minutes, Marris described the two narratives environmental activists often refer to when considering a morally correct state of nature. One of the narratives was The Garden of Eden, before the fall of Adam and Eve. The second was sort of a Jack Kerouac-like notion of pristine wilderness; the beating heart of what it means to be nature. These narratives are useless to us Marris argued. Humans now occupy over seventy-five percent of ice free surface, there is no pristine wilderness left. Non-human populated areas are either unbearably hot or icy and rocky. Marris claims “even the remotest places now bear the fingerprints of humanity.” Ecosystems are not stable or static, thus the notion of returning them to a previous state of being is illogical and impossible. We can no longer “put it back.” Why do we care about historical baselines anyway? We have no idea of what the climate might look like if humans had not modified it. Marris paints a clear picture of the daunting task at hand in her book. "Restoring the complex ecosystems we have destroyed may be, at the moment, just too hard. We don't know enough about what they looked like or how they worked. Our restoration projects may be too small, in many cases, to capture the complex processes we have lost. We can't get the magic back” (Marris 24). The alternative, is not to restore some notional and incompletely apprehended past but to design or engineer for specific, measurable goals (Marris 1). She went on to touch on a number of issues, including climate change, endangered species, and most importantly, how to apply innovative conservation principles with sensible goals. One of the conservation goals Marris referred to is exemplified by The Path of the Pollinator, a public project in Seattle seeking to connect two green parks with a mile long garden allowing for honeybees and other native pollinators to be sustained and travel from one park to the other. You can read about the project online at http://www.pollinatorpathway.com/. “The Pollinator Pathway balances an emphasis on native plants useful to pollinators with plants chosen for beauty and structure. The project uses between 70-90% native plants for each garden” (Bergmann 1). This project takes an active and interactive approach to providing ecosystems and assisting in the thriving of insect species. I think this project is really inspiring and a perfect example of what you can accomplish at a grassroots level. Marris’ lecture most relates to the geographical element environment and society, “The physical environment that is modified by human activities and all features and processes of the physical landscape that impact human activity.” Within that element, standard three, How human actions have modified the physical environment. An example of this in the lecture is the evolution of corn from teosinte by selective breeding or artificial selection. Additionally, pesticides used in agriculture