Public’s responsibilities toward nature and the environment

Essay Outline:

1. Introduction, explaining the precarious situation of our environment today, stating of thesis.

2. Citing Barbara Ehrenreich’s analysis of the stature of humans with respect to other animals and the non-organic environment.

3. Citing Pauly & Watson’s point about the folly of over-fishing.  How this process will ultimately lead to catastrophe.

4.  Mentioning the counter argument, namely the cyclical processes of destruction and rebirth that life on earth have gone through in the past.

5.  Summing up the essay and arriving at concluding remarks, and also talk about our responsibilities toward nature.

Problem Definition & Thesis:

Human beings have always drawn sustenance from the natural environment that surrounded them.  The wellbeing of our species is intricately related to the diversity and stability of the physical environment we inhabit.  As new and sophisticated technologies are applied to farming, fishing, mining, manufacturing and urban development, the erstwhile balanced relationship between humans and their environment is rendered unstable.  For much of our history, we were at the mercy of natural elements such as storms, earth-quakes, torrential rains, predatory animals, micro-organisms, etc.  With the ascent of human civilization and technological progress, the equations of power have been skewed somewhat, whereby we now have unprecedented capability to self-destruct.  In this context, the pressing question is how should humans utilize their newly acquired powers in dealing with the broader nature?  The rest of this essay will argue in support of the view that unless we revere and respect nature, we are paving way for our own ultimate destruction.

Supporting Argument 1:

As Barbara Ehrenreich points out in her article The Myth of Man as Hunter, for much of our history as a species, we have been the prey rather than the predator.  It is only as recently as 40,000 years ago that we invented primitive tools necessary for killing wild animals.  Even then, it is only in the last two-hundred years or so that we achieved significant mastery over other life forms on earth (Ehrenreich, 1993).  But today, we could hardly claim to be living a peaceful existence, for the threats from geological and climatic forces of nature are as real as ever before.  Our population levels are also at an all time high and soon there will come a time when the planet can no longer support all its inhabitants. This would lead to resource wars, collapse of law and order and a general decline in culture and civilization.

Supporting Argument 2:

One could glean from Ehrenreich’s article that after being prey animals for long, human beings have gone overboard in exercising their recently acquired dominion over other life forms.  With their newfound prowess, humans have over-indulged in hunting, fishing and farming activities which are proving to self-detrimental.  Further, in the article titled The Last Fish, authors Daniel Pauly & Reg Watson expound a specific example of this general tendency, namely the practice of over-fishing.  They point out that as with other natural resources, the ocean too is a finite resource.  If we adopt an optimal level of fishing, it would allow the processes of reproduction and relationships of food-chains to replenishing fish population.  Once we disregard these limits to fishing, then the balances within food-chains would be disrupted and the whole oceanic ecosystem would collapse (Pauly & Watson, 2003).

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