The Concern for Our Vanishing Wilderness
The history of the environmental crisis can be studied by looking at the chronology of events that led to society's awareness of key environmental problems. Many environmental scientists consider this crisis to be a combination of interconnected problems, such as the vanishing wilderness, pollution, and overpopulation, all of which may have additive and synergistic effects. However, underlying these problems is a more subtle issue. It concerns the development of a human society that is profoundly different from the one in which we live: the "self-sustainable society."
This chapter looks at the first major concern of the environmental movement--the "value of nature phase." During this stage, the loss of wilderness (or ecologically speaking, the biosphere) becomes so great that concerned citizens have begun conservation movements to sequester and preserve extraordinary natural regions. An examination of species extinction suggests the basic contours of the problem of maintaining biodiversity. Because the loss of wilderness is partly due to the Judeo-Christian attitude that God created nature solely to serve humankind, a worthwhile review of some of the principal ethical traditions of Western philosophy reveals how those traditions have led to our vanishing wilderness.
The term biodiversity refers to both the variety and variability in species and the genes that they contain. The term biosphere is a more inclusive term