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]  “Ozymandias” was verbal rather than visual.)  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/guide/238972   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.



The Conceptual Assassination of Wilderness

David W. Kidner

In this essay, Kidner writes about “…the ways industrialized modes of thought have undermined our ability to recognize the degradation of wilderness and wildness throughout the world.” In education, children’s personal, live connections to Nature are substituted by conceptual abstractions such as ‘food chains’.  Direct experience of being among other-than-human beings are replaced by videos and nature trails In my youth, my friends and I played outside on grass, gravel, dirt; in wind, rain and open skies such that  we were at all times aware of the outdoors environment around us.  Today, most people never even bother to look up and notice whether there are clouds, how fast they are moving, whether it looks like rain soon.  In so many words, we go out of our way to insulate ourselves from the effects of the outdoors.  It seems to me that youth today live mostly a cyborg-like existence almost totally excluding all but man-made instruments of convenience.  Nature has become ‘resources’ and ‘raw materials’.  Fallen limbs and trees have become ‘fuel’ rather than homes and shelter for birds and insects.  It is as if Nature exists, as Kidner puts it, “without intrinsic structure, values or tendencies.” Earth itself has no intrinsic value thus no rights; only humans and corporations have rights. It is beyond belief to me that a corporation selling matches has more rights than the great Amazon rainforest.

William Balee, for instance, asserts that natural history is essentially ‘human’ history because only an anthropocentric worldview counts as important enough to include in a history book.  As Kidner writes,  “Industrial humanity does not so much construct nature as sweep it aside,  replacing it with a quite different system that is hostile to and destructive to nature.”


Peter Kareiva, chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy, where he is responsible for developing and helping to implement science-based conservation, writes the following from an article in Nature Conservancy  Magazine:  “How do we achieve conservation results? Make it relevant to people, says our chief scientist.”



Following: “The alternative message is a goal of providing billions of people with a natural environment that is managed to meet their needs in perpetuity. We have to change the way people think about conservation, so that its connection to their well-being is ingrained.”



I find this statement fascinating.  Let us look at what the natural environment means.  “Natural environment means all living and non-living things that are naturally on Earth. In a narrow sense, it is an environment that is not influenced by people. The environment that is influenced by humans can be called “the built environment” or cultural landscape.”  http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_environment

So by definition, a natural environment is not managed by people, especially an environment designed to fit human needs.  Earth is NOT all about humans.  Nature is NOT all about humans.


The following comes from the Nature Conservancy home page:


“Our Mission: conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends”


I read this as meaning conservation for lands and waters with emphasis on all life, not the needs of humans.


Kidner closes with:


“Kareiva’s vision thus manages to combine ecological, moral and social pathologies into a single disastrous whole.  It is therefore not a vision that seeks to preserve nature at all.  Rather it is the offspring of industrialist ideology and seeks to materialize this ideology in the form of a fully domesticated world from which all forms of wildness, whether human or nonhuman have been extinguished.”


Who says conservation is all about Science?  Modern science has no concern for ethical behaviour.  No concern for caring, nurturing.  Since when was science all about humans?   If Kareiva speaks for Conservation science, then I suggest the Nature Conservancy must change their mission statement.