ACU Philosophy Humankind Cons

1 st Discussion board question:

Read 3 philosophical readings; Silent spring, Thinking like a mountain, and What it feels like to

loose your favorite season, extract the main ideas from it. You may construct an argument and

express it.

I will attach first 2 readings; however, for the 3 rd reading, please use a link below.

2 nd question. This is a complete different question. Not related to any readings.

Write at least 150 words on a meaningful connection you’ve made with the environment.

“Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson


I am pessimistic about the human race because it is too ingenious for its own good. Our approach

to nature is to beat it into submission. We would stand a better chance of survival if we

accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively instead of skeptically and



1. A Fable for Tomorrow

THERE WAS ONCE a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony

with its surroundings. The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of prosperous farms, with

fields of grain and hillsides of orchards where, in spring, white clouds of bloom drifted above the

green fields. In autumn, oak and maple and birch set up a blaze of color that flamed and flickered

across a backdrop of pines. Then foxes barked in the hills and deer silently crossed the fields,

half hidden in the mists of the fall mornings. Along the roads, laurel, viburnum and alder, great

ferns and wildflowers delighted the traveler’s eye through much of the year. Even in winter the

roadsides were places of beauty, where countless birds came to feed on the berries and on the

seed heads of the dried weeds rising above the snow. The countryside was, in fact, famous for

the abundance and variety of its bird life, and when the flood of migrants was pouring through in

spring and fall people traveled from great distances to observe them. Others came to fish the

streams, which flowed clear and cold out of the hills and contained shady pools where trout lay.

So it had been from the days many years ago when the first settlers raised their houses, sank their

wells, and built their barns. Then a strange blight crept over the area and everything began to

change. Some evil spell had settled on the community: mysterious maladies swept the flocks of

chickens; the cattle and sheep sickened and died. Everywhere was a shadow of death. The

farmers spoke of much illness among their families. In the town the doctors had become more

and more puzzled by new kinds of sickness appearing among their patients. There had been

sickness appearing among their patients. There had been several sudden and unexplained deaths,

not only among adults but even among children, who would be stricken suddenly while at play

and die within a few hours. There was a strange stillness. The birds, for example—where had

they gone? Many people spoke of them, puzzled and disturbed. The feeding stations in the

backyards were deserted. The few birds seen anywhere were moribund; they trembled violently

and could not fly. It was a spring without voices. On the mornings that had once throbbed with

the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens, and scores of other bird voices there was

now no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh. On the farms the hens

brooded, but no chicks hatched. The farmers complained that they were unable to raise any

pigs—the litters were small and the young survived only a few days. The apple trees were

coming into bloom but no bees droned among the blossoms, so there was no pollination and

there would be no fruit. The roadsides, once so attractive, were now lined with browned and

withered vegetation as though swept by fire. These, too, were silent, deserted by all living things.

Even the streams were now lifeless. Anglers no longer visited them, for all the fish had died. In

the gutters under the eaves and between the shingles of the roofs, a white granular powder still

showed a few patches; some weeks before it had fallen like snow upon the roofs and the lawns,

the fields and streams. No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this

stricken world. The people had done it themselves. This town does not actually exist, but it might

easily have a thousand counterparts in America or elsewhere in the world. I know of no

community that has experienced all the misfortunes I describe. Yet every one of these disasters

has actually happened somewhere, and many real communities have already suffered a

substantial number of them. A grim specter has crept upon us almost unnoticed, and this

imagined tragedy may easily become a stark reality we all shall know. What has already silenced

the voices of spring in countless towns in America? This book is an attempt to explain.

2. The Obligation to Endure

THE HISTORY OF LIFE on earth has been a history of interaction between living things and

their surroundings. To a large extent, the physical form and the habits of the earth’s vegetation

and its animal life have been molded by the environment. Considering the whole span of earthly

time, the opposite effect, in which life actually modifies its surroundings, has been relatively

slight. Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one

species—man—acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world. During the past

quarter century this power has not only increased to one of disturbing magnitude but it has

changed in character. The most alarming of all man’s assaults upon the environment is the

contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials. This

pollution is for the most part irrecoverable; the chain of evil it initiates not only in the world that

must support life but in living tissues is for the most part irreversible. In this now universal

contamination of the environment, chemicals are the sinister and little-recognized partners of

radiation in changing the very nature of the world—the very nature of its life. Strontium 90, re-

leased through nuclear explosions into the air, comes to earth in rain or drifts down as fallout,

lodges in soil, enters into the grass or corn or wheat grown there, and in time takes up its abode

in the bones of a human being, there to remain until his death. Similarly, chemicals sprayed on

croplands or forests or gardens lie long in soil, entering into living organisms, passing from one

to another in a chain of poisoning and death. Or they pass mysteriously by underground streams

until they emerge and, through the alchemy of air and sunlight, combine into new forms that kill

vegetation, sicken cattle, and work unknown harm on those who drink from once pure wells. As

Albert Schweitzer has said, “Man can hardly even recognize the devils of his own creation.” It

took hundreds of millions of years to produce the life that now inhabits the earth—eons of time

in which that developing and evolving and diversifying life reached a state of adjustment and

balance with its surroundings. The environment, rigorously shaping and directing the life it

supported, contained elements that were hostile as well as supporting. Certain rocks gave out

dangerous radiation; even within the light of the sun, from which all life draws its energy, there

were short-wave radiations with power to injure. Given time—time not in years but in

millennia—life adjusts, and a balance has been reached. For time is the essential ingredient; but

in the modern world there is no time. The rapidity of change and the speed with which new

situations are created follow the impetuous and heedless pace of man rather than the deliberate

pace of nature. Radiation is no longer merely the background radiation of rocks, the

bombardment of cosmic rays, the ultraviolet of the sun that have existed before there was any

life on earth; radiation is now the unnatural creation of man’s tampering with the atom. The

chemicals to which life is asked to make its adjustment are no longer merely the calcium and

silica and copper and all the rest of the minerals washed out of the rocks and carried in rivers to

the sea; they are the synthetic creations of man’s inventive mind, brewed in his laboratories, and

having no counterparts in nature. To adjust to these chemicals would require time on the scale

that is nature’s; it would require not merely the years of a man’s life but the life of generations.

And even this, were it by some miracle possible, would be futile, for the new chemicals come

from our laboratories in an endless stream; almost five hundred annually find their way into

actual use in the United States alone. The figure is staggering and its implications are not easily

grasped—500 new chemicals to which the bodies of men and animals are required somehow to

adapt each year, chemicals totally outside the limits of biologic experience. Among them are

many that are used in man’s war against nature. Since the mid-1940’s over 200 basic chemicals

have been created for use in killing insects, weeds, rodents, and other organisms described in the

modern vernacular as “pests”; and they are sold under several thousand different brand names.

These sprays, dusts, and aerosols are now applied almost universally to farms, gardens, forests,

and homes—nonselective chemicals that have the power to kill every insect, the “good” and the

“bad,” to still the song of birds and the leaping of fish in the streams, to coat the leaves with a

deadly film, and to linger on in soil—all this though the intended target may be only a few weeds

or insects. Can anyone believe it is possible to lay down such a barrage of poisons on the surface

of the earth without making it unfit for all life? They should not be called “insecticides,” but

“biocides.” The whole process of spraying seems caught up in an endless spiral. Since DDT was

released for civilian use, a process of escalation has been going on in which ever more toxic

materials must be found. This has happened because insects, in a triumphant vindication of

Darwin’s principle of the survival of the fittest, have evolved super races immune to the

particular insecticide used, hence a deadlier one has always to be developed—and then a deadlier

one than that. It has happened also because, for reasons to be described later, destructive insects

often undergo a “flareback,” or resurgence, after spraying, in numbers greater than before. Thus

the chemical war is never won, and all life is caught in its violent crossfire. Along with the

possibility of the extinction of mankind by nuclear war, the central problem of our age has

therefore become the contamination of man’s total environment with such substances of

incredible potential for harm— substances that accumulate in the tissues of plants and animals

and even penetrate the germ cells to shatter or alter the very material of heredity upon which the

shape of the future depends. Some would-be architects of our future look toward a time when it

will be possible to alter the human germ plasm by design. But we may easily be doing so now by

inadvertence, for many chemicals, like radiation, bring about gene mutations. It is ironic to think

that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an

insect spray. All this has been risked—for what? Future historians may well be amazed by our

distorted sense of proportion. How could intelligent beings seek to control a few unwanted

species by a method that contaminated the entire environment and brought the threat of disease

and death even to their own kind? Yet this is precisely what we have done. We have done it,

moreover, for reasons that collapse the moment we examine them. We are told that the enormous

and expanding use of pesticides is necessary to maintain farm production. Yet is our real

problem not one of overproduction? Our farms, despite measures to remove acreages from

production and to pay farmers not to produce, have yielded such a staggering excess of crops that

the American taxpayer in 1962 is paying out more than one billion dollars a year as the total

carrying cost of the surplus-food storage program. And is the situation helped when one branch

of the Agriculture Department tries to reduce production while another states, as it did in 1958,

“It is believed generally that reduction of crop acreages under provisions of the Soil Bank will

stimulate interest in use of chemicals to obtain maximum production on the land retained in

crops.” All this is not to say there is no insect problem and no need of control. I am saying,

rather, that control must be geared to realities, not to mythical situations, and that the methods

employed must be such that they do not destroy us along with the insects. The problem whose

attempted solution has brought such a train of disaster in its wake is an accompaniment of our

modern way of life. Long before the age of man, insects inhabited the earth—a group of

extraordinarily varied and adaptable beings. Over the course of time since man’s advent, a small

percentage of the more than half a million species of insects have come into conflict with human

welfare in two principal ways: as competitors for the food supply and as carriers of human

disease. Disease-carrying insects become important where human beings are crowded together,

especially under conditions where sanitation is poor, as in time of natural disaster or war or in

situations of extreme poverty and deprivation. Then control of some sort becomes necessary. It is

a sobering fact, however, as we shall presently see, that the method of massive chemical control

has had only limited success, and also threatens to worsen the very conditions it is intended to

curb. Under primitive agricultural conditions the farmer had few insect problems. These arose

with the intensification of agriculture—the devotion of immense acreages to a single crop. Such

a system set the stage for explosive increases in specific insect populations. Single-crop farming

does not take advantage of the principles by which nature works; it is agriculture as an engineer

might conceive it to be. Nature has introduced great variety into the landscape, but man has

displayed a passion for simplifying it. Thus he undoes the built-in checks and balances by which

nature holds the species within bounds. One important natural check is a limit on the amount of

suitable habitat for each species. Obviously then, an insect that lives on wheat can build up its

population to much higher levels on a farm devoted to wheat than on one in which wheat is

intermingled with other crops to which the insect is not adapted. The same thing happens in other

situations. A generation or more ago, the towns of large areas of the United States lined their

streets with the noble elm tree. Now the beauty they hopefully created is threatened with

complete destruction as disease sweeps through the elms, carried by a beetle that would have

only limited chance to build up large populations and to spread from tree to tree if the elms were

only occasional trees in a richly diversified planting. Another factor in the modern insect

problem is one that must be viewed against a background of geologic and human history: the

spreading of thousands of different kinds of organisms from their native homes to invade new

territories. This worldwide migration has been studied and graphically described by the British

ecologist Charles Elton in his recent book The Ecology of Invasions. During the Cretaceous

Period, some hundred million years ago, flooding seas cut many land bridges between continents

and living things found themselves confined in what Elton calls “colossal separate nature

reserves.” There, isolated from others of their kind, they developed many new species. When

some of the land masses were joined again, about 15 million years ago, these species began to

move out into new territories—a movement that is not only still in progress but is now receiving

considerable assistance from man. The importation of plants is the primary agent in the modern

spread of species, for animals have almost invariably gone along with the plants, quarantine

being a comparatively recent and not completely effective innovation. The United States Office

of Plant Introduction alone has introduced almost 200,000 species and varieties of plants from all

over the world. Nearly half of the 180 or so major insect enemies of plants in the United States

are accidental imports from abroad, and most of them have come as hitchhikers on plants. In new

territory, out of reach of the restraining hand of the natural enemies that kept down its numbers

in its native land, an invading plant or animal is able to become enormously abundant. Thus it is

no accident that our most troublesome insects are introduced species. These invasions, both the

naturally occurring and those dependent on human assistance, are likely to continue indefinitely.

Quarantine and massive chemical campaigns are only extremely expensive ways of buying time.

We are faced, according to Dr. Elton, “with a life-and-death need not just to find new

technological means of suppressing this plant or that animal”; instead we need the basic

knowledge of animal populations and their relations to their surroundings that will “promote an

even balance and damp down the explosive power of outbreaks and new invasions.” Much of the

necessary knowledge is now available but we do not use it. We train ecologists in our

universities and even employ them in our governmental agencies but we seldom take their

advice. We allow the chemical death rain to fall as though there were no alternative, whereas in

fact there are many, and our ingenuity could soon discover many more if given opportunity.

Have we fallen into a mesmerized state that makes us accept as inevitable that which is inferior

or detrimental, as though having lost the will or the vision to demand that which is good? Such

thinking, in the words of the ecologist Paul Shepard, “idealizes life with only its head out of

water, inches above the limits of toleration of the corruption of its own environment … Why

should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons, a home in insipid surroundings, a circle of

acquaintances who are not quite our enemies, the noise of motors with just enough relief to

prevent insanity? Who would want to live in a world which is just not quite fatal?” Yet such a

world is pressed upon us. The crusade to create a chemically sterile, insect-free world seems to

have engendered a fanatic zeal on the part of many specialists and most of the so-called control

agencies. On every hand there is evidence that those engaged in spraying operations exercise a

ruthless power. “The regulatory entomologists … function as prosecutor, judge and jury, tax

assessor and collector and sheriff to enforce their own orders,” said Connecticut entomologist

Neely Turner. The most flagrant abuses go unchecked in both state and federal agencies. It is not

my contention that chemical insecticides must never be used. I do contend that we have put

poisonous and biologically potent chemicals indiscriminately into the hands of persons largely or

wholly ignorant of their potentials for harm. We have subjected enormous numbers of people to

contact with these poisons, without their consent and often without their knowledge. If the Bill of

Rights contains no guarantee that a citizen shall be secure against lethal poisons distributed either

by private individuals or by public officials, it is surely only because our forefathers, despite

their considerable wisdom and foresight, could conceive of no such problem. I contend,

furthermore, that we have allowed these chemicals to be used with little or no advance

investigation of their effect on soil, water, wildlife, and man himself. Future generations are

unlikely to condone our lack of prudent concern for the integrity of the natural world that

supports all life. There is still very limited awareness of the nature of the threat. This is an era of

specialists, each of whom sees his own problem and is unaware of or intolerant of the larger

frame into which it fits. It is also an era dominated by industry, in which the right to make a

dollar at whatever cost is seldom challenged. When the public protests, confronted with some

obvious evidence of damaging results of pesticide applications, it is fed little tranquilizing pills

of half truth. We urgently need an end to these false assurances, to the sugar coating of

unpalatable facts. It is the public that is being asked to assume the risks that the insect controllers

calculate. The public must decide whether it wishes to continue on the present road, and it can do

so only when in full possession of the facts. In the words of Jean Rostand, “The obligation to

endure gives us the right to know.

Thinking Like a Mountain

by Aldo Leopold

A deep chesty bawl echoes from rimrock to rimrock, rolls down the mountain, and fades into the

far blackness of the night. It is an outburst of wild defiant sorrow, and of contempt for all the

adversities of the world. Every living thing (and perhaps many a dead one as well) pays heed to

that call. To the deer it is a reminder of the way of all flesh, to the pine a forecast of midnight

scuffles and of blood upon the snow, to the coyote a promise of gleanings to come, to the

cowman a threat of red ink at the bank, to the hunter a challenge of fang against bullet. Yet

behind these obvious and immediate hopes and fears there lies a deeper meaning, known only to

the mountain itself. Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of

a wolf.

Those unable to decipher the hidden meaning know nevertheless that it is there, for it is felt in all

wolf country, and distinguishes that country from all other land. It tingles in the spine of all who

hear wolves by night, or who scan their tracks by day. Even without sight or sound of wolf, it is

implicit in a hundred small events: the midnight whinny of a pack horse, the rattle of rolling

rocks, the bound of a fleeing deer, the way shadows lie under the spruces. Only the ineducable

tyro can fail to sense the presence or absence of wolves, or the fact that mountains have a secret

opinion about them.

My own conviction on this score dates from the day I saw a wolf die. We were eating lunch on a

high rimrock, at the foot of which a turbulent river elbowed its way. We saw what we thought

was a doe fording the torrent, her breast awash in white water. When she climbed the bank

toward us and shook out her tail, we realized our error: it was a wolf. A halfdozen others,

evidently grown pups, sprang from the willows and all joined in a welcoming mêlée of wagging

tails and playful maulings. What was literally a pile of wolves writhed and tumbled in the center

of an open flat at the foot of our rimrock.

In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were

pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy: how to aim a steep

downhill shot is always confusing. When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a

pup was dragging a leg into impassable slide-rocks.

We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then,

and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes– something

known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that

because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after

seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.

Since then I have lived to see state after state extirpate its wolves. I have watched the face of

many a newly wolfless mountain, and seen the south-facing slopes wrinkle with a maze of new

deer trails. I have seen every edible bush and seedling browsed, first to anaemic desuetude, and

then to death. I have seen every edible tree defoliated to the height of a saddlehorn. Such a

mountain looks as if someone had given God a new pruning shears, and forbidden Him all other

exercise. In the end the starved bones of the hopedfor deer herd, dead of its own too-much,

bleach with the bones of the dead sage, or molder under the high-lined junipers.

I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in

mortal fear of its deer. And perhaps with better cause, for while a buck pulled down by wolves

can be replaced in two or three years, a range pulled down by too many deer may fail of

replacement in as many decades.

So also with cows. The cowman who cleans his range of wolves does not realize that he is taking

over the wolf’s job of trimming the herd to fit the range. He has not learned to think like a

mountain. Hence we have dustbowls, and rivers washing the future into the sea.

We all strive for safety, prosperity, comfort, long life, and dullness. The deer strives with his

supple legs, the cowman with trap and poison, the statesman with pen, the most of us with

machines, votes, and dollars, but it all comes to the same thing: peace in our time. A measure of

success in this is all well enough, and perhaps is a requisite to objective thinking, but too much

safety seems to yield only danger in the long run. Perhaps this is behind Thoreau’s dictum: In

wildness is the salvation of the world. Perhaps this is the hidden meaning in the howl of the wolf,

long known among mountains, but seldom perceived among men.


Life in Arizona was bounded under foot by grama grass, overhead by sky, and on the horizon by

Escudilla. To the north of the mountain you rode on honey-colored plains. Look up anywhere,

any time, and you saw Escudilla. To the east you rode over a confusion of wooded mesas. Each

hollow seemed its own small world, soaked in sun, fragrant with juniper, and cozy with the

chatter of piñon jays. But top out on a ridge and you at once became a speck in an immensity. On

its edge hung Escudilla. To the south lay the tangled canyons of Blue River, full of whitetails,

wild turkeys, and wilder cattle. When you missed a saucy buck waving his goodbye over the

skyline, and looked down your sights to wonder why, you looked at a far blue mountain:

Escudilla. To the west billowed the outliers of the Apache National Forest. We cruised timber

there, converting the tall pines, forty by forty, into notebook figures representing hypothetical

lumber piles. Panting up a canyon, the cruiser felt a curious incongruity between the remoteness

of his notebook symbols and the immediacy of sweaty fingers, locust thorns, deer-fly bites, and

scolding squirrels. But on the next ridge a cold wind, roaring across a green sea of pines, blew

his doubts away. On the far shore hung Escudilla. The mountain bounded not only our work and

our play, but even our attempts to get a good dinner.

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