John Kricher

 

On his book The Balance of Nature: Ecology’s Enduring Myth

Cover Interview of July 17, 2009

In a nutshell

The existence of a balance of nature has been a dominant part of Western philosophy since before Aristotle.  But the science of ecology and evolutionary biology together demonstrate that there is no balance of nature—not today and not at anytime in Earth’s long history.  The paradigm is based on belief, not data; it has no scientific merit.

The Balance of Nature traces how and why the balance of nature assumption remained prevalent in the public mind and in ecological research until quite recently.  By presenting a brief overview of the history of ecology and evolutionary biology, I show how ecologists now understand that the balance of nature was really a perception rather than a fact.

Nature is constantly in flux varying in scales of space and time, and most of that flux is due entirely to natural causes.  At this time of extraordinary human influence on Earth’s ecosystems and biota, I argue that it is essential for humanity to understand how evolution occurs and why ecology is far more dynamic than static.

With that information it will then be hopefully possible to formulate policies of ecological ethics that will help humanity act as responsible stewards of the planet—even in a time of climate change and loss of natural ecosystems.

I conclude with what I believe to be a tightly reasoned appeal to adopt a materialistically based, scientific view of nature and, from that understanding, move toward sound decisions about how best to ensure the continued health of the planet’s ecosystems.