Why care for Nature?

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Discussion points


  • We are the only truly sentient species on this planet,
  • We depend on many services offered by Nature for our survival,
  • Our population is still growing rapidly, and this, combined with our growing collective wealth, and now our own impacts on planetary climate, are reducing `natural' areas and threatening many other species,
  • Many people (perhaps all) have some sense of affinity for Nature: something more than just an aesthetic sense, akin to sympathy,
  • More than half of the human population live in cities and seldom experience Nature,
  • Major religions urge us both to subdue and dominate Nature, and to be good stewards of Nature
  • Modern philosophy has failed to ground normative ethics reason and logic alone. A priori assertions are always needed.


  • If we do, why do we care about Nature? Because it is good for us, or because it is Good?
  • Does Nature have a right to be protected from destruction? If not, does it still have an intrinsic value that we are obliged to preserve? If so, why are we obliged?
  • When the needs of some humans and of their surrounding Nature clash, can the needs of Nature sometimes be considered more important? * Do we have a right to procreate? Do we have the right to contribute to the eventual destruction of our species by contributing to population growth when we have more than two children? Should we be taxed for satisfying our personal desire for a large family?
  • Can knowledge about the wonderful ecological and evolutionary workings of Nature (the is), be used to justify a conservationist position (the ought)?


What do you think of this approach?

Pick your battles wisely.

Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast....a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.
Edward Abbey, from a speech to environmentalists in Missoula, Montana in 1978 and in Colorado, which was published in High Country News in the 1970s or early 1980s under the title "Joy, Shipmates, Joy."