Through the 18th century, the balance of nature was probably primarily a comforting construct–it would protect us; it represented some sort of benign governance in the face of occasional awful events. When Darwin replaced God as the determinant of the balance with natural selection, the comfort of a balance of nature was not so overarching, if there was any comfort at all. – Simberloff D (2014) The “Balance of Nature”–Evolution of a Panchreston. PLoS Biology 12(10): e1001963. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001963
Here’s the abstract:
The earliest concept of a balance of nature in Western thought saw it as being provided by gods but requiring human aid or encouragement for its maintenance. With the rise of Greek natural philosophy, emphasis shifted to traits gods endowed species with at the outset, rather than human actions, as key to maintaining the balance. The dominance of a constantly intervening God in the Middle Ages lessened interest in the inherent features of nature that would contribute to balance, but the Reformation led to renewed focus on such features, particularly traits of species that would maintain all of them but permit none to dominate nature. Darwin conceived of nature in balance, and his emphasis on competition and frequent tales of felicitous species interactions supported the idea of a balance of nature. But Darwin radically changed its underlying basis, from God to natural selection. Wallace was perhaps the first to challenge the very notion of a balance of nature as an undefined entity whose accuracy could not be tested. His skepticism was taken up again in the 20th century, culminating in a widespread rejection of the idea of a balance of nature by academic ecologists, who focus rather on a dynamic, often chaotic nature buffeted by constant disturbances. The balance-of-nature metaphor, however, lives on in large segments of the public, representing a fragile aspect of nature and biodiversity that it is our duty to protect.
Like we said earlier: The human race is the only species that environmentalists do not have any duty to protect. And we actually only have about seven billion members. that’s nothing in many life form groups.
Something to think about, before you write at cheque to them.
See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (human evolution)
Follow UD News at Twitter!