An Unsustainable Paradigm

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					An Unsustainable Paradigm
             Part 1

   Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D.
           Blind Effects
“On our present course, by E.O. Wilson’s
estimate, half of all plant and animal
species could be extinct by 2100 — that is,
within the lifetime of a child born today….
So it’s startling to discover that the very
idea of extinction was unthinkable, even
heresy, only a few lifetimes ago.”
             Richard Conniff, “Lost and Gone Forever”
             NYT FEBRUARY 3, 2011
The Buffalo Hunt
     Before European Invasion
• The Prairie Biome
• 75 million buffalo ranged prairie BWM. Migrate
  over 100 sq. miles for water and food in herds of
  1,000 under alpha bull
• Herds stampede ex, Coronado 1541 saw them
  fill an entire ravine
• Natural threats wolves, coyote, bear and lion,
  grass fire and freeze
 Human Ecology---Plains Indian
• Nomads in search of Buffalo
  – Commanche see which way horned toad hop
• Hunt by running down herd or infiltrating in hide
• Women skinned and tanned with brains
• Buffalo provided food, hide, teepee, tools, toys
  and ornaments. Use everything. Pemican.
• Animism. Tongue eaten in post-hunt feast;
  smoke blown in 6 directions
• Happy Hunting Ground---heaven + buffalo
• Not imagine world without buffalo
        Enter the Europeans
• Buffalo main food on plains. Thirst/warmth.
  – “A stake cooked on chips needs no pepper.”
• Whites join hunt in 1830s, reduce to 40 m.
• Threaten Indians---Buffalo wars 1860s
  – 1867 Treaty of Medicine Lodge trade
    reservation life for saving Buffalo.
• 1871 Buffalo became commercially
  valuable; by 1883 nearly all destroyed.
•   Trade in Buffalo Robes with hair
•   Trains---sports hunting excursions
•   Ham and tongue became delicacy in US
•   New arsenic tanning technique 1870s made
    hides valuable.
•   End of Civil War---unemployment. Hunt drew
•   Sharps 50 cal rifle 1872---kill from stand at 600
•   U.S. wanted Indians confined to reservations
•   Ranchers wanted prairie cleared.
  First Conservation Movement
• Commander Richard Dodge, Fort Dodge:
  – “I have counted 112 carcasses of buffalo inside a
    semicircle of 200 yards radius, all of which were killed
    by one man from one spot in less than ¾ hour.”
• By 1873, hunters left for Texas, then Dakotas.
• Movement to stop slaughter, SPCA, soldiers
  – Territorial legislation---too late except Nebraska -1875
• 1879 hunt uneconomical
• By 1883 less than 1,000 Buffalo remained
• Bones then used for fertilizer and sugar, once
  picked up, only wallows remained
             Human Ecology

• Frederick Clements described the sustainable
  relationship between prairie, buffalo and Indian
  as a Human Ecology.
• The North American Grasslands biome was a
  climax stage of an arid region exposed to dry
  winds and shallow rainfall.
• Plains Indian and Buffalo were partners in a
  stable ecological association there
• White men destroyed the stabile climax
• Frontier Society vs. Sustainable Society
  – Colonization versus maturity
• Engineering Fallacy: Use of technology to
  extend control beyond natural limits
• Economic fallacy: Utilitarian values of economic
  system applied to all relationships, ignoring
• Confusion of Capital and Nature
  – “Natural resource”
  – Commodification of nature
          Distorted Values 2
• Homocentric vs biocentric shift
  – Replace Buffalo in ecosystem with controlled
    and owned cattle as resource
• Man Over Nature vs Part of It
  – Ambient vs environment
  – Lynn White’s thesis
Proof of Lynn White’s Thesis
      Dominant Social Paradigm
•   Man is above and outside nature
•   Nature is a resource at man’s disposal
•   Growth and Progress are perpetual
•   Technology solves all problems
•   Individual Interests over Community
•   Rich and Poor get what they deserve
•   Na Na Na Na Na Na Live for today
   Lester Ward, 1893, the Psychic
        Factors of Civilization
Experts must plan (no laissez faire)
Organize nature where it is inefficient (ex. winding
Engineer a paradise on earth
This is our moral imperative (we are over the
  primitive and ape).
We can pacify nature by expanding the Garden of
  Eden through a moral equivalent of war.
Later Technocrats Movement in U.S.
THE Unsustainable Paradigm


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