SYSTEMS OF NATURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Supplemental Information for the Environmental Educator -
this exercise, students should have read:
Value of Life by Stephen Kellert, Island Press, 1996. Chapters
1 and 2 (Course packet)
Capitalism, Preface, Chapter 1
purpose of this question is to encourage the student to reflect on how
they and others perceive nature and the many values it offers. The table
below is a sample of possible answers. It is adapted mostly from Stephen
Kellert's The Value of Life.
OF POSSIBLE RESPONSES:
benefit derived from exploiting nature to satisfy various human
needs and desires.
· Provide food, medicine, clothing, tools, and other
many satisfactions people obtain from the direct experience
of nature and wildlife
· Engage the human spirit of curiosity, exploration,
· Provide relaxation, calm, and peace of mind.
· Stimulate intellectual growth, creativity, and imagination.
· Enhance physical fitness.
emphasis on biological patterns, structures, and functions
The ecologistic view emphasizes interdependence among
species and natural habitats.
· The scientific understanding stresses structures
and processes below the level of whole organisms and ecosystems.
Explore the biophysical elements of nature.· Comprehend
and sometimes control living diversity.
· Develop a capacity for precise observation, systematic
analysis, and empirical study.
· Recognize material benefits from exploiting and mimicking
· Instill a cautious respect for maintaining natural
systems and a reluctance to overexploit species and habitats.
physical splendor of the natural world.
Evoke a strong, primarily emotional, register in most people
that provokes feelings of intense pleasure, even awe.
· Reflect an intuitive recognition of an ideal modeled
in nature - suggest a striving after integrity, harmony, and
balance in nature.
· Animate, direct, organize, and emotionally charge the
· Provide encouragement.
· Provide templates of action for humans struggling to
impose meaning and order on an existence filled with challenge
and the potential for chaos.
The use of nature for communication and thought.
Provide forms for expressing ideas and emotions.
· Build human ability to use language to exchange information
· Represent the symbolic transforming of nature within
· Offer countless distinctions and opportunities for
· Used in story, myth, and fairy tale to assist in resolving
dilemmas of selfhood, authority, power, and parental and societal
· Offer a means for confronting fundamentals - and often
painful issues - of identity, sexuality, and authority.
· Provide terms to facilitate everyday discourse.
· Produce poetry and vigorous discourse.
desire to exercise mastery over nature.
Confront humans with significant challenges, physical and mental.
· Test and refine people's capacity for enduring, even
mastering, the chore of survival in the face of worthy opposition.
· Hone people's ability to subdue and control the unruly
and threatening elements of their world.
close (intimate) association with wildlife and nature
Provide an avenue for expressing and developing the emotional
capacities for attachment, caring, bonding, intimacy, kinship,
· Use in mental and physical therapies with disturbed,
lonely, and estranged people.
· Provide healing in the natural environment.
· Increase the likelihood of cooperative, altruistic,
and helping behavior.
· Enhance ability to direct these emotions toward others.
· Enhance confidence, self-esteem, and the ability to
cope with the stresses of life.
value (sense of purpose) flowing from discerning a basic kinship,
stamped by a common genetic code and elementary features of
cell structure, binding all life together.
Suggest a basic symmetry, design, and even purpose.
· A source of spirituality, suggesting a fundamental
order and harmony in nature, even a guide to human conduct.
· Provide an ethic directing humans to minimize harm
to other creatures viewed as fundamentally like ourselves.
Develop religion, philosophy, and the arts based on the moralistic
sentiments of spiritual connectedness and ethical responsibility
· Foster kinship, loyalty, and cooperation.
· Provide confidence, which flows from the conviction
that a basic kinship binds all living creatures and the natural
natural world as a powerful carrier of hostile and negative
feelings: aversion, fear, and dislike, for example
Evoke threatening and antagonistic sentiments to a degree
as great as any encountered in the human experience.
· Encourage a healthy distancing and even respect for
· Develop a sense of awe, respect, and even reverence
for the natural world.
taken from Chapter 2 of The Value of Life
by Stephen Kellert, Island Press, 1996
is a chart summarizing responses to the portion of the question asking
for a "list of values for inter-human behavior that you consider
important for the maintenance of a "good" human society."
These responses were taken from Dr. Nair's "Science and Technology
for the Environment" Spring 2001 course, taught at Carnegie Mellon
2: (May be done in groups)
TENETS OF NATURAL CAPITALISM
Strained Ecological - Living Systems
Current Economic System Does Not Assign Value to Natural and Human
Capital (Industrial Capitalism)
Services from living systems are critical to human prosperity
(i.e. water storage, flood management, clean air, clean water,
waste processing, etc.)
strain on living systems increases, limits to prosperity will
be determined by natural capital.
strains cause or exacerbate many forms of social distress and
the beginning of the industrial revolution, labor was overworked
and relatively scarce
it is people who have become an abundant
resource while nature is becoming disturbingly scarce."
Economic - Environmental - Social Revolution is Inevitable
to assign value to large stocks of employed capital - natural
resources, living systems, social systems, and cultural systems
to ecosystems not factored into the cost of production
difficulty in assigning monetary values to natural and human resources:
A. Many services from living systems have no known substitutes
B. Assigning value difficult and imprecise
C. No substitute for human intelligence, knowledge, wisdom, organizational
the conventional wisdom is mistaken in seeing priorities in economic,
environmental, and social policy as competing. The best solutions
are based not on tradeoffs or 'balance' between these objectives
but on design integration achieving all of these together - at every
level, from technical devices to production systems to companies
to economic sectors to entire cities and societies."
long held assumption and values
economic efficiency, ecological conservation, and social equity
from an economy that emphasizes human productivity to one that
emphasizes resource productivity.
a shared biological - social framework drawing on industry and
government's talent and energy to solve environmental and social
from neoclassical economics and accounting to one that accounts
for the biological realities of nature
reconciliation between human and living systems
resource use and improve the quality of life
the structure of the reward system of commerce
and tax reforms
and institutions not paying attention will lose competitive advantage
capitalism recognizes the critical interdependency between the production
and use of human-made capital and the maintenance and supply of
as if all forms of capital were valued
forms of capital are interrelated and interdependent
Four types of capital required for an economy to function properly:
A. Human capital: in the form of labor and intelligence, culture,
B. Financial capital: consisting of cash, investments, and monetary
C. Manufactured capital: including infrastructure, machines, tools,
D. Natural capital: made up of resources, living systems, and
central strategies of natural capitalism:
Radical Resource Productivity:
resources more effectively, slows resource depletion at
one end of the value chain, lowers pollution at the other
end, and provides a basis to increase worldwide employment
with meaningful jobs.
the wasteful throughput of materials by redesigning industrial
systems on biological lines and enabling the constant reuse
of materials in continuous closed cycles, and often the
elimination of toxicity.
Service and Flow Economy:
A shift from the acquisition of goods as a measure of affluence
to an economy where the continuous receipt of quality, utility,
and peformance promotes well-being.
- A service economy wherein consumers obtain services by
leasing or renting goods rather than buying them outright.
- An Intelligent Product System whereby those products that
do not degrade back into natural nutrient cycles be designed
so that they can be deconstructed and completely reincorportated
into technical nutrient cycles of industry.
- Product is a means, not and end.
- Increase employment
- Stabalize the business cycle because customers would purchase
flows of services, needed continuously, rather than durable
equipment that is affordable only in good years.
Investing in Natural Capital:
the worldwide planetary destruction through reinvestments
in sustaining, restoring, and expanding stocks of natural