Regarding Nature as Raw or Cooked

by Margaret N. Maxey, Prof.; Biomedical Engrg., Univ. of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1991, Vol. 61, Issue 10, Pg. 61-63

Document Type: Feature article


Tensions between nature and technological culture are mounting as never before. On one side are the deep ecologists who claim the industrial capitalist system has raped the world of nature. On the other side are those who say we are on the threshold of passage from a natural world to a human world, where science is expected to pierce the veils of ignorance and improve the quality of life. For the moment the deep ecology movement may hold the upper hand, because U.S. public policy makers have internalized the myth that nature is somehow benign or raw and that technology will only compromise or cook it. But this mindset fails to consider such nature-induced calamities as floods, hurricanes and earthquakes. And flawed assumptions about man-made versus naturally occurring carcinogens have helped shape the nuclear energy debate. In short, the environmental ethic threatens to replace the traditional ethic of utility, which pursue the greatest good for the greatest number.

Subject Headings: Ecosystems | Ethics | Tension | Claims | Industries | Human factors | Lifeline systems | Public policy

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