Welcome to the show. My initial foray into the blogosphere lets you know where I’ll be going, and invites you along for the ride.

Why another blog? Why me?
A quick search on Google Blog indicates I’ve been the subject of a few postings, primarily based on my recent entry into the world of social criticism. But this blog represents my initial attempt at posting a blog of my own. I would like to expand my efforts in social criticism, and I’d like to have a forum in which my errors can be revealed to me. Ergo, this blog. As the name suggests, I will explore the fertile ground at the largely unplowed intersection of conservation biology and philosophy. I’ll also spend some time in the realms of art, literature, C.P. Snow’s eponymous Two Cultures, and academia. I’d like to think that, like Walt Whitman, I am large; I contain multitudes. But I’ll let you be the judge.

I call myself a conservation biologist, yet I did not discover the enterprise of conservation biology, much less become a conservation biologist, until long after my formal education was complete. My undergraduate curriculum in forestry and my graduate programs in range science were tilted heavily toward extraction of natural resources. This focus on extraction was not the only obstacle between me and the pursuit of conservation biology. The greater challenge was that the field of conservation biology, as exemplified by publication of the first issue of Conservation Biology, emerged the same year I was granted a Ph.D. Thus, there were no formal university courses in conservation biology until my days on the student side of the classroom were behind me. My own laser-like focus on applied ecology prevented me noticing the field for a full decade after it appeared on the American scene, although I now call myself a conservation biologist. In doing so, I recognize that my credentials are subject to scrutiny. You can read all about those credentials at my university website.
In contrast to my claim to be a conservation biologist, I make no claim to being a philosopher. Through high school and nine years of higher education culminating in a doctoral degree, I did not complete a single course in philosophy. I was exposed briefly, superficially, and vicariously to a dab of Karl Popper and perhaps another philosopher or two who subsequently escaped my long-term memory. And yet I earned a Doctor of Philosophy in that least philosophical of majors, range science (in my days as a graduate student the field centered largely on production of red meat; apparently it continues to do so, without admitting as much). I discovered Socrates very late in an unexamined life. In my defense, I have been working hard in recent years to fill the philosophical void (not to mention the existential one).
Future posts will address various topics, including philosophy from ancient Greece to the present, conservation of natural resources, the end of American Empire (it’s probably closer than you think), the extinction of humanity (ditto), sustainability, economics, and just about anything else that grabs my attention. Much of my recent work falls into the category of social criticism, and I’ll continue that work here. Fair warning: I’m an equal-opportunity offender. And, since I’m airing the laundry: I’ll be borrowing numerous ideas from other writings, occasionally losing track of the source. If it’s you, and I fail to acknowledge you, please let me know so I can fix it.
I look forward to comments from rational human beings. I especially welcome solutions to the planetary crises we face.

Comments 2

  • I just read the transcript of the speech you delivered in Tucson on 8/17/07 and I want to thank you for having the courage and honesty to defy in the profoundest way the received wisdom of our culture by exposing the venality of civilization itself. The culture is insane and it is murdering the planet. There are precious few people who manage to break through the systemic deceit and hatred of life that pervades our culture, our bodies, even our language, and it is crucial that those few lend helping hands to those (still few) others who have any realistic chance of reaching a similar understanding. And then, of course, we will have to actually do something about it. If we simply wait for Peak Oil to do the trick, we’re not giving the Earth the best shot possible, and we’re selling ourselves short as moral agents. Thank you for speaking out. We don’t have long to go–maybe we can give our planet and hopefully even our species a fighting chance.

  • Best of luck with this blog, I hope it takes off.
    Why not look forward to comments from irrational human beings, from whom emanates some of the best thinking, no?
    One of the best post carbon books for the Southwest US was published in 1991: Goatwalking, by Jim Corbett, a friend and mentor to many of us. Jim was living on the San Pedro River when he died a few years ago.
    The book is a terrific read in any circumstance.
    Some blurbs from that book:
    “Two milk goats can provide all the nutrients a human being needs, with the exception of vitamin C and a few common trace elements. Learn the relevant details about range-goat husbandry and something about edible plants, and with a couple of milk goats you can feed yourself in most wildlands, even in deserts…Goatwalking is errantry that takes the goat-human partnership’s adaptation to wildlands as its point of departure…If I were to become vegetarian, it wouldn’t make this way of living less violent…An earth without wilderness, populated by billions of mechanized vegetarians and their grain fields, would be an earth reduced, enslaved, and deadened…”
    And from the Saguaro-Juniper Covenant (book appendix): “In acquiring private governance of land, we agree to cherish its earth, water, plants, and animals in a way that promotes the health, stability and diversity of the whole community…”
    Thank you for the opportunity to post.