Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge Essay
Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge
“To What End? ” is the last chapter of Edward O. Wilson’s book, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, one of the most skillful, and gifted scientists of which he wanted a joining together of the different sciences such as the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. This chapter focused mainly on social and environmental problems. The picture of the global environment as well as the discussions on global warming, environmental ethics and overpopulation are being emphasized.
The limitations of land suitable for cultivation, the deforestation and the clean water as well as the mass extinctions of plants and animals present an enormous problem in the whole world today. Something must have been done of which the world preservation is the focus for further human development and cultural consciousness. There is a great diversity in the living world. In order to live successfully, an organism must fit into its surroundings. There are still some countries or islands, such as Galapagos Island, that are rich as far as biodiversity is concerned.
Biodiversity is an important characteristic of ecosystems that is associated to the number of different species they contain. It is the wealth of all life-forms on Earth today that is the product of billions of years of evolutionary history. Biodiversity is often associated with tropical rain forests. Though tropical rain forests account for only 7 percent of the total land area of the world, it harbors more than half of the 1. 7 million species of living things documented worldwide. What happened to them?
Many of them make their home in the forests. However, virgin tropical rain forests are almost vanished, transformed into agricultural lands, and sooner or later abandoned as wasteland or used as residential areas. However, current levels of biodiversity are threatened by what scientists describe as a modern, anthropogenic mass extinction-a”human meteor”… (Picard 22). As a result, some of our wildlife species are endangered and as susceptible to extermination and sometimes classified as severely endangered.
Deforestation is, therefore, the single greatest cause of species loss. The direct causes of extinction of species aside from habitat destruction, but as well as overexploitation, introduction of exotic species, pollution and global climate change. Man’s activities have ruined his own environment. His intervention with the ecological balance has opened the eyes of the world. Man must face environmental issues and bring his activities back in balance with the natural world.
The role of humans in their environment is clear, they are not merely a biological species but also a social species which by their resourcefulness and skillfulness, make and remake their environment. The kind of environment they have therefore replace the values, attitude, skills and knowledge or ignorance behind the decision they make. The future generations should be genetically conservative (Wilson 3). We go a step further when we practice the fields of biotechnology. Biotechnology is the general term used to describe the modification of biological processes through human intervention.
This may be done through genetic engineering aimed at modifying or improving the hereditary traits of certain organisms. The main purpose of genetic engineering is to improve agricultural productivity. Hence, Genetically Modified Organisms are perceived to be beneficial to humans since it creates new varieties of organisms. However humans should be careful in their use of what we called the genetic modification, the direct manipulation of an organism’s genes. Some people now a day became worried of potential problems or harmful side effects of Genetically Modified Organisms.
For instance, an engineered lawn grass that remains short and therefore does not need trimming and a grass runners that spread out fast may outgrow the native grass species that support local insect pollinators. Humans use genetic methods to improve life here on Earth. But the main issue about Genetically Modified Organisms, whether or not to adopt them is still unresolved. The actuality remains that genetic engineering accelerate speciation. In nature, it is anticipated that it takes between 2 000 and 100 000 generations for new species to evolve.
Scientists continue to search for better ways to improve human lives and the world we live in. It takes alterations of our physical world and the development of “superior” living organisms to realize such objectives. Humans have been working on plant and animal breeding for centuries. Once a sought-after trait, or organism, has been produced, it must be maintained and passed on to future generations. The desire to make domestic plants and animals more suitable for human needs has been the motive for the intensive study of genetics, and this has resulted in wonderful improvements.
With the rise of genetics and the growing knowledge about the environmental needs of both plants and animals, the possibilities of further improvements have become greater. Many people would like to see genetic principles applied to the biological improvements of humankind. Plans for the improvement of humans have been formulated and to some extend put into effect. However, most of these plans are not founded on reliable scientific data. Hence, the means to be used in bringing about these improvements are so questionable that reputable geneticists refuse to support them.
On the other hand, the author also emphasize that such conservatism should not be confused with the pietistic and selfish libertarianism into which much of the American conservative movement has lately descended (Wilson 3), of which what he meant is the ethical side of the argument. As you go around some places, you see loads of uncollected trash. You see swarms of flies and cockroaches crowded over the garbage. How do you feel about it knowing that microorganisms are causes of diseases and those unhygienic conditions that can speed up the growth of bacteria?
Values of good health and sanitation must be developed. Cleanliness in the environment must be observed. Personal hygiene such as washing one’s hands before eating must be practiced. You developed the values of neighborliness and collaboration by keeping the surroundings, the school building, the grounds, and other facilities sanitary. You must report cases of communicable diseases to proper authorities so that corrective measures can be undertaken. In this case, the value of concern for the well being of others is manifested.
As you examine your environment, you must realize that the diversified forms of existence are possible only because of the works of God. Somehow, the value of spirituality that involves faith and love of God will inspire you as you marvel at the complexity of life. It warns the present and future generations to be cautious in the rapidly dependent on machine-aided ratiocination, such as the use of computers and other devices. We invent a variety of machines to help us do our work more easily and faster. Moving from one place to another is now possible. We can even circle the world in just a matter of days.
With all the machines invented, we are forced to build power plants to provide us with the energy we need to run these machines. It resulted to treating everything delicate in such a way that we tend to forget the importance of live, the very nature of our existence, our ancient heritage and the feeling of being nothing at all because of over dependence on machines. What can we do to prevent the selfish and total destruction of the environment and conserve natural resources? What is our role in preserving ecological balance? Do we have the responsibility to preserve (Picard 22)? Morally yes!
Man is responsible of God’s creatures and the need to preserve them. Are we morally obligated to do so (Picard 23)? The aim of any human being is to protect and improve the environment and to put together the environment together with the policies of the government and in the world as well. Nature provide us and other living organisms with the essential elements needed for continued existence. The environment is the source of life-sustaining substance. Balance in nature exists when the various ecosystems are stable, and humans play an active role in maintaining the balance in nature.
No organism is completely independent. Each organism is dependent upon other organism as well as the environment for continued existence. For example the attractiveness of a fragile coral is very much enhanced by the green alga living on it. Humans are instrument in upsetting and restoring the balance in nature. We can either preserve it or cause its destruction. We are dependent for our needs on the environment; as a result, the balance in nature is upset. As we satisfy our needs and ensure our comfort, we accidentally change our natural environment.
We depend on our environment for all our necessities. We apply technology to all aspects of food production. When a forest is cleared or a field is cultivated, the natural, balanced environment is altered. Not all plants and animals can become accustomed to their new environment. Those that cannot either perish or move around to other places. Often, the balance in nature is seriously disturbed, and plants and animals that are more adaptable become pests. And with the up to date advancements in the fields of genetics, we are now pursuing plant and animal cloning.
The changes we have made in the environment have considerably affected the equilibrium in nature. It has been a common observation that some of these changes have not achieved the objective of improving the quality of life. Some of them actually have caused an imbalance in nature. Even though humans have eliminated potential predators, controlled diseases, and make the most of the energy flow of ecosystem into the production of food, they have also exploited the natural ecosystem and contaminated air and water with human and technological wastes.
In the long run, nature continues to be ill with as it is consumed, exhausted, and corrupted. We humans play an on the go role in maintaining the balance in nature and safeguarding biodiversity. The Earth’s resources are limited that is why they should be appropriately managed and used wisely. We should also consider the impact on the environment as we get hold of and use these resources.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 20 February 2017
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