About this Blog
Anybody who has ever gotten a solicitation letter from the World Wildlife Foundation, or the Nature Conservancy, or the Sierra Club, or any of the many other related conservation organizations, is familiar with the awed and reverent tones often used to describe the natural environment. A good portion of the literature characterizes nature as the most precious gift in the world, as if polar bears and baby seals, as if penguins and prairie dogs, snail darters and spotted owls, were the very kin of Bambi.
Anybody who has ever hunched in the corner of a bookstore, sipping coffee underneath a silvery Ansel Adams print, will recognize the same sentiment. They know, deep down, the amount of ink that the luminaries of environmentalism—authors, politicians, business owners, park rangers, outdoor enthusiasts, and filmmakers—have spilled seeking to demonstrate how superb and fantastic nature is, how beautiful it is, presumably to persuade others that there is magic there. Thoreau’s Walden, Leopold’s Sand County Almanac, as well as work by Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir, Thomas Berry, Annie Dillard, Diane Ackerman, James Lovelock, and John McPhee, among many others, all carry strains of this romanticism. Even Joyce Kilmer’s famous poem begins “I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree”—a schmaltzy serenade if there ever was one.
Unfortunately, that’s only half the story.
Nature is a cruel mistress. She will send her minions to gobble up your pets, sweep away your belongings in the middle of the night, assault your neighbor with a terminal disease, and sucker punch your family members with a dose of their mortality so brutal and cold that you may wonder whether life is worth living. She sends us hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis; cancer, plagues, bird flu, ebola, malaria, typhoid, meningitis, and even rogue, killer asteroids to pull the dark sheets of death over life just as quickly and fecklessly as she will, with the other hand, breathe life into our newborns and our gardens. It is therefore appalling, to some, that anyone would ever deign to be an environmentalist, that anyone would ever deign to love nature.
And yet, many do; and many are environmentalists. I consider myself an environmentalist, and I have taken many actions, and written many papers, in defense of nature. This blog, in many ways, stems from this environmentalism. It offers a discussion of environmental ethics, interspersed with links to articles about policy and philosophy, all aimed at covering what are to me the most interesting areas of academic study: ethics, policy, and the environment.