The only thing about riding a bike from Portland to Phoenix is that in-between there is something called... NEVADA.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chapter One: Nature Restoration as a Paradigm for the Human Relationship with Nature. Ned Hettinger

As mentioned in an earlier post, we are reading <I>Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change</I> as we travel. The book is made up of chapters by different authors, and it aims to change the way we think of ourselves in relation to the environment so that we may "flourish" in a changing climate.
Chapter one takes a close look at RESTORATION; the practice of attempting to return a degraded environment to its original condition. Restoration is viewed in contrast to PRESERVATION; setting aside an environment that is to be free of human interaction. The chapter identifies four strengths and four weaknesses of restoration.
Restoration can actually be helpful in repairing damaged ecosystems.
Sometimes preservation (a hands-off policy) is not enough.
Restoration requires human participation with nature.
Restoration is a positive way for humans to interact with nature.
Restorationists can be too prideful, assuming that "nature needs us".
Restoration may not appreciate the "wildness" of undisturbed nature.
Restoration might be seen as providing a net-benefit, when in fact it is only an attempt to repair damage already done.
Restoration is not a paradigm for a "healthy" relationship with nature because it presupposes a damaged environment.
While the practice of restoration can be helpful in restoring functionality to many ecosystems, and it is also a positive way for humans to interact with the biosphere (even utilizing modern technology), it is not the ideal long-term human/nature mode of interaction. By definition, restoration requires that the environment first be degraded before it can be restored.
The author concludes:
"... restoration plays only a minor role in a healthy human/nature relation. Restoration as an ideal of the paradigmatic relationship with nature only makes sense given the current and past abusive human treatment of nature. Virtuous human flourishing on the planet would not include restoration of nature as a central feature. ... restoration does not provide a paradigm for the ideal human relationship with nature."
Please leave your response/thoughts about restoration, past and future human/nature relations, etc. in the comments!


  1. Restoration as the ideal means of dealing with a damaged environment could be akin to believing that recycling is the the ideal action for over consumption.

  2. I have been studying organic, small-scale farming for about a year now and feel it is relevant to this topic. As our population grows, so does our need for more food. With our current conventional agriculture practices, more of our wild lands have to be used in order to support our population. While at the same time more farm land is being urbanized. This is not sustainable for a number of reasons (hopefully obvious!) that I won’t go into.

    One book I am currently reading suggests that “to preserve the plant and animal genetic diversity upon which we all depend, we will need to keep one-half of the world’s farmable land in a wild, natural state”. Preservation! As stewards of our land (and for our survival as well!), it is vital for us to implement sustainable, land and resource-conserving approaches to raising food. As we move towards these practices (I believe this is necessary!), more wilderness areas can remain untouched. And thus, more of the plant and animal diversity (of which we depend on) can be preserved and flourish.

    Restoration of damaged ecosystems is certainly important if we are to maintain a healthy biodiversity. Once an area is restored, it can then be “preserved”. But, WE have to choose to do so. We have to be stewards of the land. Earth is our only home! Let us take good care of it.

    Keep up the good work Laura & Kevin!