John Kricher


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

Cover Interview of July 16, 2009


The significance of realizing that the balance of nature is not a scientific concept (and is false) is potentially substantial.  I hope to make my readers think about how ethics may expand to more fully encompass environmental parameters and, as such, advance the best interest of society.

I use as my foundation the reality of organic evolution and Darwinian natural selection to demonstrate that the concept of a balance of nature is and always has been false.  I sharply separate evolution from teleology and explain why balance of nature is fundamentally teleological.

I argue that ecology, as a science, has no significant paradigms and is in reality a branch of evolutionary biology.  Since believing in a balance of nature is deeply engrained in many people, especially those focused on conservation goals, my assertion likely will seem provocative and dubious.

That is why I wrote this book: to explain, in a brief and lucid style, why I believe the concept of balance of nature is philosophical baggage and should be discarded.  You need a more realistic view of what nature is and isn’t.

There is a major issue that is ongoing today, that of biodiversity.  Why preserve species?  Because they are part of the balance of nature?  Or because they are intrinsic to ecosystem function, balance or not?  Or because they look compelling?  Or because they have “rights” to existence?  How does biodiversity function and why should humans, whose population and influence on Earth grows daily, care about biodiversity?  If a reader of The Balance of Nature emerges with a greater grasp of these issues, I will have succeeded.  It is a small but I believe a necessary step in the right direction.

© 2009 John Kricher