An Ozymandian Nightmare:  Human Centred Conservation


What’s with Ozymandias?


“Roman-era historian Diodorus Siculus, who described a statue of Ozymandias, more commonly known as Rameses II (possibly the pharaoh referred to in the Book of Exodus). Diodorus reports the inscription on the statue, which he claims was the largest in Egypt, as follows: “King of Kings Ozymandias am I. If any want to know how great I am and where I lie, let him outdo me in my work.” (The statue and its inscription do not survive, and were not seen by Shelley; his inspiration for  [the sonnet [sic]]  “Ozymandias” was verbal rather than visual.) ”   View Shelley’s sonnet here.




This paper is a commentary on the book; Keeping the Wild:  Against the Domestication of Earth

The book is Edited by George Wuerthner, Eileen Crist, and Tom Butler. Published by the Foundation for Deep Ecology in collaboration with Island Press, 2014, Washington D.C.



I am vitally interested in voicing my opposition to efforts to turn conservation into a people centred movement. Human Centred Conservation [HCC] is not conservation at all.  The word has been hijacked and totally misused for purposes of leveraging on conservation’s efforts to obtain measure of validity.  HCC is totally about people-centred pragmatism.  This view has no legitimate validity for groups that wish to preserve and protect wildness.  My definition of wildness includes the native planetary functions and cycles used by Earth to maintain optimum health.


The Introduction is entitled Lives Not Our Own


A culture acquires collective views of the world.  Before the Enlightenment, they were dominated in the West by Religion and later by science. The new science had two prominent spokespersons, Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes.  Power over and control were two underlying approaches.


“And again, remarking upon our coming ability to alter the nature of human identity through genetic and biotechnological manipulation:”

“The advent of these new powers is not an accident; they have been pursued since the beginnings of modern science, when its great founders, Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes, projected the vision of the mastery of nature. Indeed, such power over nature, including human nature, has been an explicit goal, perhaps the primary goal, of modern natural science for over three centuries, though the vision has materialized largely only in our own century. By all accounts, what we have seen thus far is only the beginning of the biological revolution.” (Toward a More Natural Science, p. 2).


Chet Bowers uses the term “root metaphors” and claims they so deeply shape a cultures development that they “become invisible to the people within that culture.”  This is what has happened in respect to Nature. The Science iof those days proposed a mechanistic outlook on the world.  This world view has resulted, as Tom Butler puts it, in a world that sees “…the community of life as a storehouse of ‘natural resources’” subject to appropriation.  Of course the appropriation is dominated by key economic powers.  The two root metaphors of dominance over Nature and the acquisition of power through wealth as – the good life, an intelligent pursuit and human destiny – are at the root of our present predicament.  Human Centred Conservation practices appear to flow out of these views.