Ecology, a very old struggle - The Point

The man and the nature ? At a time when all the world is more or less " green ", a supporter of selective waste sorting or the defender of threatened species,

Ecology, a very old struggle - The Point

The man and the nature ? At a time when all the world is more or less " green ", a supporter of selective waste sorting or the defender of threatened species, The Point offers a return to the fundamentals : read and re-read the theorists who have built our reflection on nature.

ambitious Undertaking, because we forget too often, the debate has not started in the 1970s with the emergence of political ecology, or the alerts on the warming of the climate, but from the sixth century before Christ in Greece, with the first research on the very nature... of nature and of man. Very quickly, questions are being asked : the nature was divine ? Man it was an element or was it outside ? Was he closer to the gods than animals ?

these questions and their answers depended on the way in which humans could and could not use the nature. They were not slow to choose : from the beginning, if we are to believe the paleoanthropologist Jean-Jacques Hublin, present in the folder of " man and nature ", they " are always done for the environment." Massive Destruction of forests, éventrement of the hills to extract the ore, use of rivers to get rid of polluted waters : the man has always looted and messed up his environment without too much state of the soul.

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The anthropocene, or age of man

recognizing the man in the role of the elected official, the monotheistic religions have more or less encouraged him in his anthropocentrism ; its ability to transform its environment, its creative talent have reinforced the idea that he was the master of the world. "Biosphere ", " biomass ", " ecology ", "the anthropocene" ? These words, which have become " standards ", dating back to the Nineteenth century, the century of romanticism and the exaltation of the greatness of the wind and the beauty of the forests, but also of the scientific work of Linnaeus, Humboldt and Darwin.

Each of them marks a stage not only in the knowledge that men have gained of the relationships between species and their environment, but also their own impact on the world. Thus, "ecology" is a neologism coined in 1866 by Ernst Haeckel from the Greek words oïkos, "home," and logos, " study ", to designate " the science of all the reports from the agencies between them and with the outside world ".

the Biosphere reserve ? Another neologism inspired from the Greek (bios, " life "), designed in 1875 by the geologist austrian Eduard Suess and become famous in the period between the two wars thanks to the work of Vladimir Vernadsky, who gives him a for definition : "The unique area of the earth occupied by life ". Meanwhile, the railway has promoted the economic development, but claimed the wood of many forests ; the pollution related to the use of coal has ruined the lungs of city dwellers ; the European colonization of whole continents has wiped out multiple species, without counting the tribes-called " primitives ", defeated by " modernity ".

The human footprint, it is the" anthropocene " which is supposed to translate it. This word was promoted in 2002 by the Nobel Prize winner american Paul Crutzen to distinguish a new geological era, one that began with the beginning of the industrial revolution, has sufficiently modified the world to be compared with the telluric forces of nature. The anthropocene is the era of man (anthropos-supper, from the Greek kainos, meaning " new ").

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Between the "biosphere" and " the anthropocene ", history of the Earth is accelerated, the temperature rose by almost 1 °C, the world population increased from less than 2 billion to more than 7.7 billion people and 25 % of plant and animal species would be, in a more or less long-term risk of extinction.

A weapon revolutionary

Of science, ecology has become political. It has reached the point of "how nature works" to achieve the " how to preserve ". The switches takes place as soon as the end of the 1950s, the nuclear arms race, the development of pesticides and of the first studies on the catastrophic state of the planet.

But the effects of this mutation are felt only now. The Twenty-first century is the return of stick. And ecology is becoming a weapon of revolutionary, as potent today than in the past the class struggle, except that it covers a field may be more extensive : ask how to better treat nature, it is interested in permaculture and herbal medicine, but also to the impact of the technology, the economy and (still) the relations of class, that man has an interest or non-abuse.

The width of the field may explain why defenders of the environment are moving forward in a disorganized manner, some claiming that the entire areas of the planet remain virgins of the human footprint, further promoting sustainable development and the reorganization of the economy to reduce the human footprint, and still others are calling for a return to a way of life, pre-industrial, and other, finally, announcing the end of the world.

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We have chosen to present in "man and nature" the thinkers who have counted in this awareness, even if they have not always been heard in their lifetime. Thus, we read the prose of the stunning John Muir, writer and traveller to the origin of the creation of Yosemite national park, California, but also the initiator of the movement for the preservation, associated with the wilderness, the "wilderness" concept, fundamental in the United States and including Henry David Thoreau, the famous author of Walden, became the herald.

First whistleblowers

The reader will see also, George Perkins Marsh, that, as early as the 1860s, there is concern across the Atlantic of the effects of deforestation. But this is only after the Second world War that the struggle for the environment takes its rise, particularly in the United States, but it is Germany and France that are produced in his theoretical writings the richest with regard to the relationship of man with nature, but also with the technology, which can help to destroy the environment to heal.

Often, and it is the case of the writings of Martin Heidegger, Jacques Ellul, René Dumont or André Gorz, this reflection is linked to other causes, the relationship to the sacred, to the under-developed countries, demography or social organization... ecology is all-encompassing, by necessity, hence the debate, which this record of the Point can provide material for reflection.

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Consult our folder : Man and Nature

Date Of Update: 19 June 2020, 03:34