Tagged: Ecology

Nature, Ecology, and the Environment

There is no “original” state in nature, no nature-in-itself in the sense that a fixed set of characteristics holds true, like the law of gravity, always and everywhere. Nature resembles less a law than a story. And the story is not over. Thus to inquire of nature is to inquire of time, of circumstance and of contingency. What was natural three billion years ago – an empire of anaerobic bacteria – would strike most of us as decidedly unnatural today. Ecology The word originates from the Greek root oikos, “at home”, and *ology, “the study of something.” Haeckle, (1870), defined...

The Earth Charter

The Earth Charter is an ethical framework for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. It seeks to inspire a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the whole human family, the greater community of life, and future generations. It is a vision of hope and a call to action. The Earth Charter is concerned with the transition to sustainable ways of living and sustainable human development. Ecological integrity is one major theme. The Earth Charter recognizes that the goals of ecological protection, the eradication of poverty, equitable economic development,...

You are my Creator, but I am your Master.

“Nature” has different meanings: It is the horizon of civilization, it is the material from which everything is made, and it is the origin to which everything wants to return. By “nature” we also mean the basic form which determines what something is. Aristotle thought that this natural form also determines the purpose something has. And finally, we human beings have a nature too – but how do we define it?

Chai Jing: Under the Dome

China’s economy has grown around 9 to 10 percent for the last 20 years. One of the side-effects of this economic miracle is extreme environmental damage: Pollution in China is by now legendary, but the full picture is still emerging. On March 2nd, Chai Jing, a Chinese journalist and writer, released a documentary about air pollution that she produced herself “Under the Dome”. By March 3rd, 2015, the film had been viewed more than 150 million times in China, and sparked widespread discussions. On March 7, the film was blocked on Chinese websites. The Chinese government was consulted during the production...

Ecological Thinking?

Ecology is the study of interactions among organisms and their environment. One can even think about the human race in ecological terms, and this form of thinking is vital if we want to have a future. If we let our thinking transgress the boundaries of scientific disciplines, ecology becomes philosophy enhanced with information. Ecology stands for our relationship with nature. Philosophers have thought about this question  for a long time, but now the debate is no longer academic, it has become very urgent because it threatens our survival. We have to throw out distinctions that have worked well for a...

Vanishing Butterflies and Dying Bees

The European Environment Agency just published a study about butterflies in Europe. It shows that from 1990 to today, over a period of 20 years, the butterfly population was reduced by 50%. The reasons for this disappearance are increased agriculture, and the overall reduction of wild meadows. Mono-cultures, intensification of farming, and lack of sustainable practices leads to a dramatic loss of grassland biodiversity. Butterflies are a  major contributor to biodiversity.  They feed primarily on nectar from flowers, and they get nourishment from pollen, tree sap, rotting fruit, dung, and decaying flesh. They have a crucial ecological function for plants,...

Darwin: The marvels of a riverbank

At the end of the “Origin of the Species” (1859) Darwin writes about a riverbank: It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability...