151In this chapter I review some western concepts of nature under the changing cultural influences since Darwin. In particular, I explore the paradox that Darwinian ecology presents: that all life is co-originated and interrelated while also brutally competitive. This paradox has played out over the past few centuries as romanticized conceptions of nature have been challenged by rational science. Over the same period, human sociocultural evolution has altered ecological conditions. As concepts and conditions have changed, so too have our environmental challenges. Through the course of this chapter I suggest that environmentalism is in the throes of a re-conceptualization of ecological systems. What this means in practice is that we should no longer be concerned with the preservation of some proper version of unspoiled nature. Rather, our greatest challenge is to sustain the ecological processes that support human life. These processes are stressed by certain aspects of human society. Socioecological systems theory proposes that low-stress ecosystems more effectively provide ecological services, and that societies based on equity and cooperative reciprocity exert less stress on ecological systems and stabilize ecosystem services. The emphasis of conservation ecology has evolved from protecting particular species in their historic associations to stabilizing ecological function in the midst of constant change.