Island Civilization

Proposes one of four ways to live better in balance with the Earth.

by R. F. Nash
October 16, 2008.

Pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Dates

America's western wilderness in the Rocky Mountains.

= paragraph –––––––––––––––––––– essential meaning

Page 1

1        “we don’t often think in the wider angles that encompass our species as a whole

2          “extend our concern…to put forward a strategy for occupation of this planet long-run

Page 2

3          “a self willed land” that did not exist before domestication but is now in our minds

4          “an environmental transformation that left wilderness is scattered remnants”

5          “technological, capitalist-driven culture in its cancer-like tendency to self-destruct.”

6          Thoreau, Marsh, Muir, each extended the idea of wild as essential 1890 frontier’s end – “big industrial cities losing their luster."

Page 3

7          “passing over a tipping point from liability to asset

8          “the Wilderness Act of 1964 was revolutionary—its point was the” people’s benefit setting aside over 9 million acres of Federal Land.

9          “A new bio-centric rationale” for “wilderness” to have intrinsic value gesture o’ modesty

10        “Wildness is a civilization other than our own,” Holy Earth – ethical equality, a step toward  ecology

        Liberty Hyde Bailey

Page 4

11        A Leopold’s “biotic arrogance.” Carson  -uncontrolled & unutilized environs =value

12        1972 MMPA & 1973 Endangered Sp. A-ESA- members in the biotic community

13        “Civilization appeared as vulnerable.” To ecological cutural /\disaster & social disintegration

14        wilderness is “where most of the thirty-odd million species sharing earth reside.”

Page 5

15          wasteland scenario (Business as usual) “Growth was confused with progress.”

16          garden scenario (homogenization, led to biotic impoverishment to feed our own appetites)

17          future primitive (the loss of 10,000 years of civilized feat, as the hunter gatherer prevails

18          Island civilization ”Better tools mean peace rather than war with nature.”

Page 6

19          Check population growth by giving women reproductive rights–reduce to 1.5 billion

20        100 mile closed circle units supporting say 3 million people

21        “It is not necessary to go back to the Pleistocene to live with a low ecological impact.”

Page 7

22        “we’d surrender some freedoms” – leave the islands to enjoy minimal impact wild

23        “For some five million years the planet was self-willed”  10K years ago experiment controlling

24        preserve+conservation biology & the rewilding idea—full implications of these ideas = IC

Page 8

25        “The upward-trending curves cannot be sustained.” Made deliberately or desperately

26        We stand at the crossroads …of the entire evolutionary process.”

Conclusion – divorce; live separately but in harmony, love but to love enough to be freed from our control


“Maybe biocentric ethics and reverence for self-willed nature could turn us from cancerous to caring.”                                                            

P. 8

“”Some now view this not just as a violation of the rights of humans to enjoy wild nature but the rights of other species and self willed environments themselves.”                       

P. 4.

“Their value was intrinsic and their membership in the biotic community indisputable.”

“ ‘environmentalism’ took a broader view of utility”


“put our dominion into the realm of morals. It is now in the realm of trade.” 

Liberty Hyde Bailey, 1915

P. 3.

 “ changing American attitude toward nature.” Conservation 1907.


”celebrated tools of an environmental transformation that left wilderness in scattered remnants.”

p. 2

“Restructuring of human lifestyles and expectations.”  

P. 7.

Nash, Island Civilization, 2008.


1582    when we started using millennia
1851    Thoreau – “In Wildness is the preservation of the world."
1864    Marsh   Man and Nature – humans as an artifact equal in impact to geological forces
1890    Closing of the frontier – as  the line of uninterrupted settlement between east and west
1907    the word Conservation is coined by McGee & Pinchot to comprehensively use resources
1915    Liberty Hyde Bailey’s characterization of our dominion in Holy Earth: stewardship.
1927    “food chains” first used in ecological literature
1936    “ecosystem: coined by Tansley
1949    A Sand County Almanac published posthumously by Aldo Leopold
1950    BOOM in population – one billion increase every 15 years / 6000 acre per day loss
1962    Silent Spring by Carson warns of the wasteland of chemicals we are feeding the earth & one other.
1964    The Wilderness Act becomes law setting aside circumscribed & bounded areas for wilds
1969    NEPA (not in the article)
1972    Marine Mammal Protection Act
1973    Endangered Species Act

Wild | Climate | Biodiversity | nature as an asset | reflecting ecologically | Airs, Waters and Places