Gregg Whitlock English 359 Wendy Thompson Due Date: April 1, 2005 Ecology in Context Vast arrays of environmental problems are now affecting the world. With the enclosure of more green spaces, global warming, and the extinction of animals, mankind seems intent on destroying any hope of leaving the world intact for future generations. If the world has any hope of survival we need desperately to begin to think more about ecology in order to make changes and save the world from certain destruction. Our usual understanding of the word ecology is that it advocates for the preservation of nature, but it actually comes from the Greek word "oi kos" meaning house.
Therefore, in thinking about ecology in terms of our house of nature, it is essential that we are careful to manage our house and its contents properly. With irrevocable damage being done to the environment every day, humanity as a whole needs to take notice of the amount of destruction we are doing to the environment. Oscar Wilde once wrote: Today more than ever the artist and a love of the beautiful are needed to temper and counteract the sordid materialism of the age... When science has undertaken to declaim against the soul and spiritual nature of man, and when commerce is ruining beautiful rivers and magnificent woodlands and the glorious skies in its greed for gain, the artist comes forward as a priest and prophet of nature to protest (8).
It is important for writers to address the dismal state of ecology. The newspaper article by Stuart Hunter entitled "Bear-protection program expanding south," calls for more attention to ecology, as incidents in which human contact with the bear population are on the rise. This essay will look at the significance of the article by Stuart Hunter with the short stories "Swimming at Night" by Mark Hume and "The Clayoquot Papers" by Maurice Gibbons in an ecological context. Moreover, it will look at the issues each author raises and how persuasive they are in terms of stressing the importance of ecology in our modern world. The article by Stuart Hunter was in The Province newspaper on March 23, 2005.
It outlines plans by Whistler to protect one hundred and twenty bears, and suggests that the idea is catching on throughout Vancouver's North Shore. The plan involves setting up conservation officers to be responsible for areas with high bear conflicts. Hunter writes: "Water, Land and Air Protection Minister Bill Barisoff said Victoria is deploying a new conservation officer to work in Whistler's bear aversion program to protect them and their human pals" (A 13). As more and more land developments begin to encroach on land that was previously bear habitat, there will be an increase conflicts with bears. With the Olympics scheduled for 2010 Whistler is going to be a big area for development. In a statement by Barisoff, Hunter writes: "The province is committed to reducing the number of conflicts we see with bears and humans and this new conservation officer will allow us to take extra measures to deal with the problem in an effective and humane manner" (A 13).
The article illustrates an ecological solution to dealing with the bear problem and is effective in reporting the steps taken by the province of B. C. to minimize the friction between land development and the natural world. The article suggests a few ways that are used by the conservation officer to prevent bears from becoming troublesome to humans. Hunter lists the duties as being: "assessing and responding to bear-human conflicts and reducing the potential for conflict by using non-lethal techniques such as human dominance and aversive conditioning" (A 13).
The responsibilities of the officer seem to take a humane and ecological approach to dealing with enclosure. Hunter also writes: "Barisoff also announced a $60, 000 grant for a three-year black bear research and monitoring program in Whistler, where three problem bears were destroyed in 2004. One problem bear was destroyed in Whistler in 2003" (A 13). The threat to bear habitat and the bear population as a whole rests in the ability for humans to deal humanely with the potential for conflict as we move further and further into the natural world with land development. Overall, Hunter's article compared with the other stories is the least persuasive in that it does what most newspaper articles do, in that it avoids speaking for the silent constituent: the bears. It also creates a forum for politicians to put a positive spin on the destruction of bear habitat.
Hunter writes: Mayor Hugh O'Reilly welcomed the move. "having our own bear response officer to work with local government the community and local business to minimize problems with bears is great for Whistler," he said "The bear-aversion program will help us to learn more about utilizing non-lethal management techniques, which I know the people of Whistler support" (A 13). While the sentiment of looking out for bear welfare is fine, the article would have been stronger if it looked at overdevelopment which is prevalent in the Whistler area. Instead the article falls short in drawing attention to the real issue, which is that humans are encroaching on bear habitat. This is evident in the fact that bear incidents are on the rise. The article closes by suggesting that more conservation officers are being considered and implemented throughout B.
C. North and West Vancouver have announced similar programs, and Squamish is having their bear hazard assessed. As the number of Grizzly and Black Bear incidents is on the rise throughout B. C. , it will become increasingly important for humans to play an active role in seeking positive solutions to solve the problem. Hunter writes: "In 2003, there were 867 black bears and 27 grizzlies destroyed in B.
C. compared to 620 black bears and 42 grizzlies in 2002." The quantit ive numbers of bears that have been destroyed was a detail that lets the reader see that the problem with bears is on the rise. Killing bears is a negative solution which will push them into extinction. The overall issues raised in this article by Stuart Hunter are ecology and enclosure.
The article is effective in its delivery of the factual information about the provinces plans to deal with bear-human conflict. While it fails to draw conclusions or persuade the reader as to the cause of these bear conflicts, it is left to the reader to assume that human encroachment into bear habitat is essentially what causes these conflicts. In an introduction to his book "The Message of Ecology," Charles Krebs writes: The daily newspapers provide ample illustrations of problems arising from the collision of technology and nature-chemical spill, crop pests, diseases. History provides examples of human cultures that perished because people did not live in concert with nature.
Therefore, the first reason for studying ecology is to learn how human societies can survive" (1). As Krebs suggests it will be up to B. C. to learn from its experiences with ecology if it hopes to develop and flourish with its precious wildlife intact.
With a similar issue of ecology in focus, Maurice Gibbons draws attention to the clear-cutting of old growth forests in "The Clayoquot Papers." Gibbons uses his own personal narrative to address the issue of ecology and enclosure. Gibbons's tory is the most persuasive of the three examples in that it draws the reader in with its rich description and powerful emotion. A tangible example of Gibbons' profound ability for description and emotion is in: In the woods the woods I feel a presence I cannot define, a "force that through the green fuse drives the flower," an aesthetic intelligence organizing this profusion of life in perfect disarray, a power much greater than mine, than ours, flowing though this ever unfolding landscape with only one imperative - to create life. When I go to one of my wild places and become quite, reflective, it is this presence that I feel, and a primal connection with it.
All gods were born in such places (395). In this moving quote, Gibbons explains his connection with the natural world and does so in such a powerful manner as to provoke the emotion in the reader. In terms of sparking an affinity with the natural world, the story works to persuade the reader by suggesting that there is more visceral experience to be found in nature if we all just look close enough. While the technique of being open and candid may not work for all in a more professional or academic sense, Gibbons is successful in moving the reader with feeling and emotion to look at the natural world in a new light and respect it.
Another interesting part about Gibbons' narrative is the fact that he directly addresses the issue of the environment. Gibbons writes: "We are destroying our planet," they said, "and we have to do something about it." As a start, we listed all the environmental crises we could think of and soon filled every blackboard in the classroom with such items as pollution, extinct and endangered species, resource depletion, desertification, overpopulation, urbanization, starvation and disease. The list seemed endless (400). He tackles the key issues facing the environment in a purposely overwhelming manner. The overall movement of the story suggests that the answer to dealing with these problems is to tackle them with social protest. Holding people socially accountable for their environmental actions is just one way to work towards change.
In speaking of the role of people in protecting the environment Richard Cannings writes: "Who speaks for the forest in British Columbia? The silent constituent in all of our conflict and uncertainty over forest use is the forest itself" (286). The overall point that Gibbons and Cannings seem to be making is that humanity must be the active voice that speaks out for the silent constituents. Otherwise we will continue to exploit and abuse the natural world into oblivion. In the conclusion to the story, Gibbons follows the legal proceedings of the people involved in the protest of Clayoquot. The intent seems to suggest that social protest is the only way to direct positive change for the environment.
In essence, the story forces the reader to consider the ramifications of protest in terms of effecting change. Gibbons writes: When the country begins to devour its strong and dedicated young people, it is in great need of deep reflection, a rededication of purpose and some dramatic changes in process. Fortunately, young people like Jessica can take great pride in the significant changes their protest has already wrought in forestry practice in this province since August, 1993: a new and tougher forestry code, much stiffer fines against companies that violate logging regulations, a prohibition against exporting whole logs, increased payments from companies for logging out trees and the Vancouver Island Core Report extending the amount of protected old-growth forest (408). The other article and story in this essay highlight the issues of ecology, but fail to rouse the reader into caring about the overall cause of ecology. Gibbons includes enough factual detail about his adventure in protest to make the story accessible to all who read it. Furthermore, the structure of the story works to provide good rhetoric movement throughout.
Gibbons begins with his introduction to protest, moves on to his experience with logging and concludes with the legal proceedings which makes it a tight and coherent narrative. Overall, Gibbons writes a flawless narrative capable of evoking a call to action in regards to the plight of the environment. The final story which takes a look at ecology is Mark Hume's "Swimming at Night." According to the book "Adam's River- The Mystery of the Adams River Sockeye" written by Hume he is: "a senior reporter for the Vancouver Sun where he has covered stories relating to fisheries and the environment" (109). Hume's experience qualifies him as an objective, and trusted source in reference to the ecology of fisheries. His story addresses the concerns of endangered steelhead salmon in Deadman River near Kamloops. The narrative is well written, but fails to be persuasive as it summarizes the tedious duties of various conservationists working to help protect the salmon.
Hume writes: The cattle that wander through the grazing pastures are continuing the de vegetation. They eat everything in sight. They lumber along the stream banks, chewing at every willow bush, every young cottonwood that takes root, turning the stream bank vegetation into cud and green saliva. They trample the pathways to the stream, creating muddy wallows. The result: unstable banks that wash away when the water runs high in the spring (337). While the details of river erosion are important to the plight of the salmon they weigh the narrative down forcing it into a realm where description exceeds sentiment.
As a result the reader is directed through the story but feels little towards the plight of the salmon. Hume is quite capable of writing with emotion. In his introduction to "The Run of the River," in which "Swimming at Night" was first published he writes: I have seen rivers where the water was luminous and others so heavy with silt that you couldn't see your boots when you were standing only ankle deep. I have watched water turn red with a flood of spawning sockeye running in from the sea, and have waded for hours though an empty stream where extinction lay on every gravel bed. That was a sad day. This book is about the abuse of one of British Columbia's most valuable resources - its rivers (1).
This quote illustrates that Hume has a strong mastery of language and an ability to write with emotion. "Swimming at Night" would have been a stronger narrative if there was more attempt at connection with the reader as the quote from the introduction does. When compared with "The Clayoquot Papers" Mark Hume's story comes across as descriptive to a fault. One positive thing that Hume accomplishes in his narrative is that he finds fault and explores the role of ignorance in ecology. Hume writes: ""The ranchers don't feel the same way about the steelhead that I do.
They don't value them," says McGregor (343). Hume infers that if the ranchers had the same respect for the steelhead as McGregor has, they might think twice about destroying their habitat. Hume also writes: Upstream, that same week, another rancher had built rancher had built a dam right across the river to divert water into his ditches. The dam was removed, charges contemplated. Under the Fisheries Act it is illegal to deposit deleterious substances into fish habitat; it is also notoriously difficult to get courts to take such matters seriously. After all, what's a few dead fish? If convicted, the Cat driver might be fined one hundred dollars (343).
In this reference Hume suggests, in a cynical manner, that penalties should be made stronger to make example of people who destroy the precious habitat of the salmon. The rhetorical question in the quote is dramatic and works to make Hume's point that much more poignant. In the concluding paragraph to "Swimming at Night" Hume provides a tangible example of how much the environment has been effected by man: One day, fly fishing on the big river, he caught and released fourteen steelhead. It left his arms aching. Now experienced anglers fish five days, on average, to catch one fish (345). The fluctuation of fish stocks is dramatically represented by the amount of time it takes for the anglers to catch a fish.
As a result, the reader is shown the seriousness of the problem facing the river. While Hume avoids suggesting what can be done to rectify the destruction of the fish habitat, he addresses the issue of ecology and enclosure of the salmon habitat. The conclusion of this narrative may have been more persuasive if it gave the reader a stronger drive to help the plight of the salmon. In conclusion, the three works are all examples of the state of ecology within British Columbia. With proper management, it is still possible for British Columbia to save its precious resources. Unfortunately, one only has to open a history book to learn that humanity seldom learns from past experiences.
Scientist Lewis Thomas once wrote: "The only solid piece of scientific truth about which I feel totally confident is that we are profoundly ignorant about nature" (78). If British Columbia as well as the world were to take immediate action towards halting the negative effects we are having on the environment there is still a chance that future generations will be able to look at a black bear, a steelhead salmon, or an old growth forest, and smile. Works CitedCannings, Richard. "British Columbia - A Natural History." Vancouver: Greystone Books, 1996. Gibbons, Maurice. "Genuius of Place-Writing About British Columbia." Ed.
Stouck, David & Wilkinson, Myler. Vancouver: Polestar Book Publishers, 2000. Hume, Mark. "Genuius of Place-Writing About British Columbia." Ed. Stouck, David & Wilkinson, Myler. Vancouver: Polestar Book Publishers, 2000.
Hume, Mark. "Adam's River - The Mystery of the Adam's River Sockeye." Vancouver: New Star Books, 1994. Hume, Mark. "The Run of the River." Vancouver: New Star Books, 1992. Hunter, Stuart. "Bear-protection program expanding south." The Province.
23 March. 2005: A 13. Krebs, Charles. "The Message of Ecology." New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1988. Wilde, Oscar.
Nothing... Except my Genius. Ed. Alastair Rolfe. London: Penguin Books, 1997.