Techno-conservation in the Anthropocene

What does it mean to save a species?

Authored by: Ronald Sandler

The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities

Print publication date:  January  2017
Online publication date:  January  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138786745
eBook ISBN: 9781315766355
Adobe ISBN: 9781317660194


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An array of novel and interventionist species conservation and ecosystem management strategies have been proposed and, in some cases, pursued in recent years: assisted colonization, ecosystem engineering, Pleistocene rewilding, de-extinction, frozen zoos, gene-drives, and conservation cloning. At the same time, the idea that the Earth has entered a new geological age in which humans are the dominant force on the planet has been rapidly gaining proponents. These two trends are connected. Accelerated rates of ecological change caused by human activities are what endangers so many species and creates the need for more interventionist conservation; and that we have entered a period of natural history defined by humanity’s influence is thought to create a responsibility to correct past wrongs as well as provide license for more actively designing the ecological future. We must take a more “hands-on” approach if we want to conserve species in the Anthropocene (Minteer and Collins; Camacho et al.; Donlan et al., “Re-Wilding North America”), and we need to become comfortable with that since we are now living in the Anthropocene (Marris; Ackerman; Ellis).

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