Okay, so I’m a bit of a Michelle Nijhuis fan, but once again, she’s got her finger on the pulse of a critical debate, and also correctly notes that the pristine nature vs. managed natural systems argument is a bit of a false dichotomy: http://www.lastwordonnothing.com/2012/08/23/how-to-annoy-e-o-wilson/ It seems to me and an informal group of Facebook friends with whom I’ve been discussing this that how you fall with regard to how and why to practice conservation—as a pragmatist, an idealist, an optimist, or a “the whole things already gone to hell anyway, so I’m just going bowling” pessimist—depends on the day of the week, your mood, what the latest presidential poll numbers say, etc. Some have characterized this debate as E.O. Wilson vs. Emma Marris, or, as I did in a recent post on conservation triage, Pimm vs. Possingham, but the truth is that I’ve seen Stuart Pimm and E.O. Wilson act very pragmatically and I know that Hugh Possingham and Emma Marris have a healthy dose of the same “biophilia” that drives Wilson, and the righteous indignation at what we’re doing to the planet that gets Stuart Pimm all blustery. So, are you an idealist or a pragmatist? Yes. An optimist or a pessimist? Yes. I think we need it all.

Published On: August 27, 2012

Rafe Sagarin

Rafe Sagarin

Rafe Sagarin is a marine ecologist at the Institute of the Environment at University of Arizona. Rafe’s research includes everything from the historical and current sizes of intertidal gastropods (snails) to developing better ideas for national security, based on natural security systems. He is particularly interested in the Sea of Cortez, or Gulf of California, its ecological history, and the fascinating people past and present who have lived, worked, researched and journeyed there.

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