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Yet Another Culprit

Yet Another Culprit October 1979 REVIEWS 1081 Ecology, 60(5), 1979, p. 1081 © 1979 by the Ecological Society of America ECOLOGY OF THE NORTH As defined by the author, boreal or northern regions in­ energy cycle, permafrost) has often led to the mismanage­ clude those whose ecology is greatly affected by the presence ment or misuse of the Northland. Throughout the book, he of snow. In fact, to a large degree, this book' is a discussion attempts to dispel the many myths, legends, and misconcep­ of the ecology of snow and its important influence on such tions about Arctic regions. Among these are the overde­ factors as the morphology, distribution, and behavior of or­ pendence on temperature readings at the expense of an un­ ganisms. Throughout the book, the discussions are clear and derstanding of radiant energy exchange and reliance on the concise; Pruitt does not waste words. The 67 pages of text simplistic explanation that Arctic birds and mammals are are amply supplied with 209 literature citations which include white in order to conserve heat. papers in Scandanavian and Russian as well as North Amer­ As humans rapidly expand their settlements northward, it ican journals. becomes increasingly important to develop sound policy Topics covered include energy relations, physical environ­ based on the particular ecology of Arctic areas. Pruitt's per­ mental factors, microclimate, boreal plants and animals, and vading message is to decry the previous single-use exploita­ human effects on northern regions. Pruitt stresses how the tion of the Northland and to support development within failure to appreciate certain major differences between north­ proper ecological perspective. As an introduction to the bi­ ern ecosystems and those of other regions (e.g. the annual ology of the north and as a call for the careful use of northern areas, this book is an important and worthwhile contribution. DAVID A. LOVEJOY Pruitt, W. 0., Jr. 1978. Boreal Ecology. University Park WESTFIELD STATE COLLEGE Press, Baltimore, Maryland 21202. 73 p. $4.95 (paper). Westfield, Massachusetts 01085 Ecology, 60(5). 1979, p. 1081 © 1979 by the Ecological Society of America Assume there is an environmental cns1s. If so, who, or by Winner, but which proposes yet another culprit." That what, is responsible? Lynn White, Jr., claimed it was our culprit is humanism. Judaeo-Christian heritage.' Howard Parsons (Marx and En­ Ehrenfeld is articulate and interesting, at his best when gels on ecology) said it was capitalism, and credited Marx describing the failures of our society. He is adept at giving and Engels with the discovery. John Passmore (Man's re­ examples of end-product analysis. For example, he measures sponsibility for nature) credited Greek Stoic philosophy, sort the quality of life in the United States by such measures as of. Lewis Mumford (The myth of the machine) blamed a flaw the increase in school violence, decline of literacy, increased in human character. Jacques Ellul, (The technological soci­ divorce rate, and amount of unemployment, and concludes ety) spoke of a technology which, in the last two or three that, regardless of other measurements, it is declining. The centuries, has become autonomous. author has read widely. A biologist, what he says about ecol­ All these views are examined by Langdon Winner, in a ogy is unexceptionable. book named Autonomous technology.' He is not sold on any As a non-humanist, it is tempting for me to jump on Eh­ of them. As he put it: renfeld's bandwagon. Man has made a mess, and mostly because he has relied on "his capacity to achieve self-reali­ ... explorations of the origins of excess and uncontroll­ zation through the use of reason and the scientific method." ability in modern technological practice suffer two im­ (definition of humanism cited in Ehrenfeld, p. 5). However, portant shortcomings. First is an eagerness to advance as a review of the book in The humanist (November/Decem­ unitary, totalistic hypotheses with unwarranted convic­ ber 1978) puts it, Ehrenfeld's statement that humanism is tion in area marked by a multiplicity of questions and a "the dominant religion of our time" (p. 3) is a" ... surprise high degree of uncertainty .... Second is a penchant to humanists who feel that they are surrounded by anti-hu­ for suggesting vast revolutions in consciousness where manist forces in modern culture." good sense and moderation might do. (p. 133) If you are interested in reading about the historical roots Winner's book deserves a review. However, I am reviewing of our technologic crisis, I recommend the books by Winner a book that suffers from both of the shortcomings suggested and Passmore, in that order, with The arrogance of human­ ism rather far down the list. MARTIN LABAR Lynn White, Jr. 1967. The historical roots of our ecologic CENTRAL WESLEYAN COLLEGE crisis. Science 155:1203-1207. Central, South Carolina 29630 Winner, Langdon. 1977. Autonomous technology. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ehrenfeld, David. 1978. The arrogance of humanism. Oxford University Press, New York. vii + 286 p. $10.95. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Ecology Wiley

Yet Another Culprit

Ecology , Volume 60 (5) – Oct 1, 1979

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
© Society for Community Research and Action
ISSN
0012-9658
eISSN
1939-9170
DOI
10.2307/1936881a
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

October 1979 REVIEWS 1081 Ecology, 60(5), 1979, p. 1081 © 1979 by the Ecological Society of America ECOLOGY OF THE NORTH As defined by the author, boreal or northern regions in­ energy cycle, permafrost) has often led to the mismanage­ clude those whose ecology is greatly affected by the presence ment or misuse of the Northland. Throughout the book, he of snow. In fact, to a large degree, this book' is a discussion attempts to dispel the many myths, legends, and misconcep­ of the ecology of snow and its important influence on such tions about Arctic regions. Among these are the overde­ factors as the morphology, distribution, and behavior of or­ pendence on temperature readings at the expense of an un­ ganisms. Throughout the book, the discussions are clear and derstanding of radiant energy exchange and reliance on the concise; Pruitt does not waste words. The 67 pages of text simplistic explanation that Arctic birds and mammals are are amply supplied with 209 literature citations which include white in order to conserve heat. papers in Scandanavian and Russian as well as North Amer­ As humans rapidly expand their settlements northward, it ican journals. becomes increasingly important to develop sound policy Topics covered include energy relations, physical environ­ based on the particular ecology of Arctic areas. Pruitt's per­ mental factors, microclimate, boreal plants and animals, and vading message is to decry the previous single-use exploita­ human effects on northern regions. Pruitt stresses how the tion of the Northland and to support development within failure to appreciate certain major differences between north­ proper ecological perspective. As an introduction to the bi­ ern ecosystems and those of other regions (e.g. the annual ology of the north and as a call for the careful use of northern areas, this book is an important and worthwhile contribution. DAVID A. LOVEJOY Pruitt, W. 0., Jr. 1978. Boreal Ecology. University Park WESTFIELD STATE COLLEGE Press, Baltimore, Maryland 21202. 73 p. $4.95 (paper). Westfield, Massachusetts 01085 Ecology, 60(5). 1979, p. 1081 © 1979 by the Ecological Society of America Assume there is an environmental cns1s. If so, who, or by Winner, but which proposes yet another culprit." That what, is responsible? Lynn White, Jr., claimed it was our culprit is humanism. Judaeo-Christian heritage.' Howard Parsons (Marx and En­ Ehrenfeld is articulate and interesting, at his best when gels on ecology) said it was capitalism, and credited Marx describing the failures of our society. He is adept at giving and Engels with the discovery. John Passmore (Man's re­ examples of end-product analysis. For example, he measures sponsibility for nature) credited Greek Stoic philosophy, sort the quality of life in the United States by such measures as of. Lewis Mumford (The myth of the machine) blamed a flaw the increase in school violence, decline of literacy, increased in human character. Jacques Ellul, (The technological soci­ divorce rate, and amount of unemployment, and concludes ety) spoke of a technology which, in the last two or three that, regardless of other measurements, it is declining. The centuries, has become autonomous. author has read widely. A biologist, what he says about ecol­ All these views are examined by Langdon Winner, in a ogy is unexceptionable. book named Autonomous technology.' He is not sold on any As a non-humanist, it is tempting for me to jump on Eh­ of them. As he put it: renfeld's bandwagon. Man has made a mess, and mostly because he has relied on "his capacity to achieve self-reali­ ... explorations of the origins of excess and uncontroll­ zation through the use of reason and the scientific method." ability in modern technological practice suffer two im­ (definition of humanism cited in Ehrenfeld, p. 5). However, portant shortcomings. First is an eagerness to advance as a review of the book in The humanist (November/Decem­ unitary, totalistic hypotheses with unwarranted convic­ ber 1978) puts it, Ehrenfeld's statement that humanism is tion in area marked by a multiplicity of questions and a "the dominant religion of our time" (p. 3) is a" ... surprise high degree of uncertainty .... Second is a penchant to humanists who feel that they are surrounded by anti-hu­ for suggesting vast revolutions in consciousness where manist forces in modern culture." good sense and moderation might do. (p. 133) If you are interested in reading about the historical roots Winner's book deserves a review. However, I am reviewing of our technologic crisis, I recommend the books by Winner a book that suffers from both of the shortcomings suggested and Passmore, in that order, with The arrogance of human­ ism rather far down the list. MARTIN LABAR Lynn White, Jr. 1967. The historical roots of our ecologic CENTRAL WESLEYAN COLLEGE crisis. Science 155:1203-1207. Central, South Carolina 29630 Winner, Langdon. 1977. Autonomous technology. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ehrenfeld, David. 1978. The arrogance of humanism. Oxford University Press, New York. vii + 286 p. $10.95.

Journal

EcologyWiley

Published: Oct 1, 1979

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