One of the first courses I took in college toward my degree in wildlife management was a population dynamics class. And one of the first readings was the classic story of the boom-bust population cycles of the moose and wolf of Isle Royale Michigan, where, prior to the wolf as a keystone predator, the island’s moose herd would overpopulate and overgraze, resulting in starvation and mass die-offs. When the wolves were eventually introduced the belief was that the keystone predator would help stabilize the moose population. But the history of Isle Royale moose and wolf populations have been wildly unpredictable, affected not only by availability of food, but by disease, tick outbreaks, severe winters, and immigrant wolves. Every five years has brought unpredictable fluctuations in both populations, and every five years has been different from all other five-year periods. Even in the 1980s when my classmates and I were closely following this study, it was believed that the populations would reach equilibrium. But that never happened. Continue reading
I share the following provocative BBC documentary, “Why Beauty Matters”, by Roger Scruton. A powerful and moving piece on the importance of beauty and aesthetics in art, form, and the natural world around us. Scruton maintains that beauty “is a value, like truth and goodness,” decries the fact that the world has turned its back on beauty, and bemoans the spiritual desert of the postmodern world, which oft seeks to mock the pursuit of beauty and desigrates its spiritual significance. Mona Charen referred to Scruton’s documentary as “one the most affecting documentaries I’ve ever seen.”
We cannot reach a consensus on the definition of beauty, any more than on the definition of other such volatile terms. But we can reach a consensus on the importance of beauty, and its place in our lives. The test of time is important, but the important time is now. And that is why we must educate children in the love of the beautiful and the capacity to distinguish the true from the phony examples.
– Roger Scruton
Interesting piece over at The Breakthrough Institute on the continued awakening of modern environmental thought by Fred Pearce, under the new label, environmental modernism.
There is a new environmental agenda out there. One that is inimical to many traditional conservationists, but which is picking up kudos and converts. It calls itself environmental modernism — which for many is an oxymoron. Wasn’t the environmentalism of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Greenpeace’s warriors against industrial whaling and the nuclear industry, and efforts to preserve the world’s last wild lands, meant to be the antithesis of the modern industrial world? But the prophets of ecological modernism believe technology is the solution and not the problem. They say that harnessing innovation and entrepreneurship can save the planet and that if environmentalists won’t buy into that, then their Arcadian sentiments are the problem. Continue reading
I had the recent pleasure of sitting down with the English philosopher, Roger Scruton, to discuss his new book, How to Think Seriously About the Planet: The Case for Environmental Conservatism. It was my first time meeting Roger, and the evening lived up to every bit my expectation. I, along with my good friend, Tracy Mehan, spent an enchanting evening with Roger, tucked away in a second-floor corner of the quaint, Tabard Inn, here in the Nation’s Capital, swapping stories and enjoying each’s company over dinner and a couple of bottles of Verget Bourgogne.
A self-described conservative Tory, and author of over 20 academic books, Roger has made the most of life, sporting as a fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, a barrister, novelist, opera composer, journalist, former professor, teacher of aesthetics, church organist, radio personality, and anti-communist warrior. When he’s not ferrying across the pond to the U.S., where he is currently a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, he resides in Wiltshire with his wife, Sophie, and their two children, tending to the daily demands of an aging 250-year-old farmhouse surrounded by 35 acres of land.
Can one be a social conservative or member of the GOP and be an environmentalist? Although I’ve long argued what I believe to be the fundamental distinction between being an environmentalist and a conservationist – and perhaps that’s arguing the number of angelic beings dancing on the head of a pin – the obvious answer to the above question is a resounding yes. To me, it’s a rather silly question, but it’s one with legs. As with other social and cultural issues, the GOP’s environmental positioning has long been on the losing side of public sentiment, rhetoric and imagery. Continue reading
I’ve just finished a new book that is a must read for the political right (and for those on the political left who may be interested in what conservatives think about environmental issues). Roger Scruton’s “How to Think Seriously About the Planet: The Case for an Environmental Conservatism” is a page turner on why conservatives need not shy away from advocating environmental protections; rather they should embrace the topic and advocate for approaches that not only advance environmental stewardship but conservatism. In a recent book review by Peter Blair over at The Witherspoon Institute, Blair critiques:
Conservatism aims to preserve and maintain renewal of [homeostatic] systems, especially the “civil associations” that Scruton calls society’s “little platoons,” in the words of Edmund Burke. The little platoons—families, local clubs and institutions, churches and schools—keep us accountable to ourselves and our environment, teaching us how to “interact as free beings, each taking responsibility for his actions.” Daily life in these civil associations assimilates and connects us to a settled home, a place and a people we identify as peculiarly “ours.” Continue reading
Are conservatives better able to handle environmental problems? A re-post of a June 2012 lecture by Roger Scruton of AEI, and author of “How to Think Seriously About the Planet,” and great commentary by Steven Hayward, who argue that conservatives are in fact better equipped to handle pressing environmental issues due to their commitment to sovereignty and personal responsibility.