chapter  3
10 Pages

Conservation of Biological Resources: Responsibility to Nature and Future Generations

WithJ. Baird Callicott

This chapter reviews the history of American conservation ethics and explores a moral model for twenty-first century conservation biology. America's vast biological capital had been notoriously plundered and squandered for the benefit not of all its citizens, but for the profit of a few. The Resource Conservation Ethic is wedded to the correlative social science of economics—the science of self-interested rational individuals pursuing "preference satisfaction" in a free market. The Pinchot Resource Conservation Ethic is also untrue on the human side of its people/natural resources bifurcation. Homo sapiens is not a uniquely privileged species any more than nature itself is vast emporium of goods and services, a mere pool of resources. Nature may be dynamic; disturbance may be more the rule than balance; competition may be more commonplace than cooperation among species in ecosystems; and life may be tough and tenacious. The planet remains a whole living system with tolerances that cannot be exceeded without disrupting its functional integrity.