In the article Island Civilization: A vision for human occupancy of Earth, Roderick Frazier Nash describes how the earth that was once a peaceful planet with freedom of living for every specie turned out to be the earth we are living in now. Had human beings more farsighted they wouldn’t have taken wilderness as something that must be controlled. Nash explains how the mankind built fences and roads to control the wild, and soon there came a time when United States Census claimed there was no longer a frontier left that humans haven’t damaged which created a national angst.
As Nash says “The notion of wilderness was passing over a tipping point from liability to asset” (Nash 373) This resulted in acts that emphasized the importance of wilderness. Extinction of many other species was observed so acts were taken for the animal protection and various authors started writing books on the negative environmental impact. Nash describes four possible outcomes for Earth.
The first outcome referred as wasteland scenario ‘anticipates a trashed, poisoned and used up planet in which humans have proved to be terrible neighbors, and growth was confused with progress’ (Nash 376) In the second outcome, garden scenario, in which humans are able to take control of nature totally and modifying it with their own will. The third outcome is future primitive in which technology is not discarded but using it responsibly (Nash 377).
Finally there is an outcome that Nash wants to see which he calls as Island Civilization in which humans would revert back to being hunters, gatherers and evade technology that harms Earth with efforts being made to reduce population to 1. 5 billion thus wanting the earth to go back to its previous state. I personally believe that Nash’s plan for a paradise Earth sounds wonderful, but is not even close to reality. The main problem that would arise in order to fulfill it would be the reduction in population. He proposes to cut the current population to 1.
5 billion as he says ‘Humans increase and multiply at the rate of ten thousand per hour, a rate that wipes out any gains friends of wildlife and wilderness try to make today’ (Nash 377). With such a large number of population scattered all around the Earth it is difficult to take away the right of people to have a family or to apply rules and regulations for this. Secondly I think we are so used to of the technology we have today that all we can expect and actually deal with is the progression of it rather than going backwards.
The ease of living Science has given us in the present day is almost impossible to leave no matter how beautiful the vision of isolated island with fresh air and clean water seems. Even though I agree to Nash saying ‘Technology is essentially neutral; it is what we do with it that is the problem’ but taking the high tech road to minimal impact is not going to be easy on people who are used to of it in their daily routine. Thirdly the concept of isolating islands by Nash sounds appealing but this can result in the conflict over who would get to live where.
Because humans are never satisfied with what they have. They always aim for bigger and what the other person has. Isolating islands could create a class warfare which would result in destruction of environment because those that were less fortunate might attach others which would be just history repeating itself as humans are fighting for land since the very beginning. I love the statement ‘The growth of civilization amounts to a cancer in the eco system.
Island Civilization makes the needed correction’ (Nash 379) But I am afraid the dream of Nash is far from the real world. However we can try to find a way which lies in between it. Instead of taking such drastic steps, individual efforts can be made on a small level which can eventually lead to a Earth somewhat better than the one we are living in now. Because after all as Nash says in his final page ‘We are the death star, but we are also capable of changing course’ (Nash 380).