HSHM 211 Lecture 16: Global Catastrophe 16

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Hist of Science, Hist of Med
HSHM 211
William Rankin

HSHM 211: GLOBAL CATASTROPHE SINCE 1750 4/10/17: Ecology: Cooperation, competition, and humans  Human and nonhuman 1. Ideas about human society projected onto nature a. Malthus  Darwin  Social Darwinism 2. Economics vs. environmentalism a. Even embedded with scientific theories  Ecology 1. Interaction of organisms and their environment a. Ongoing tensions  The economy of nature 1. Ecology  Economy a. Study of the house  management of the house  Ecology in the 1890s 1. Eugenius Warming a. Danish botanist b. First to being “ecology” to wide attention c. “Introduction to the study of plant communities” 1890 o Plant community: interdependence  Symbiosis: benefits/benefits  Parasitism: benefits/hurt  Commensalism: benefits/doesn’t care  “communal life of organisms” but it’s all about Darwinian “egoism”  “no cooperation for the common weal but rather a ceaseless struggle of all against all”  Basic tension between community and competition d. Geographic patterns and historical processes o Community: spatial coherence o Succession: predictable change  Climax communities and the complex organisms 1. Frederic Clements a. Nebraskan botanist b. Succession proceeds to a “climax community” (most mature stage of plants) c. Only one possible climax community determined by climate o The “climatic climax” d. Communities as a “complex organism: o Plant community is an organism 2. Herbert Spencer: “social organism: a. Society is organism, with different natural roles b. If society is natural, then we should not interfere o Laissez faire capitalism 3. Competition creates cooperation a. Spencer: from early capitalism to industrial society o “perfect society” where everyone has their place b. Clements: from bare ground to climax community o Community with a clear dominant species 4. Irony of Spencer a. Humans o For Clements, nature is modeled on human society, but the natural superorganism excludes humans o White settlers destroying the natural prairie: the “ruined countryside,” “disclimax” o Anything other than climatic climax is an aberration, interference o Compare to American ideal of the frontier  Zero-sum relationship between humans and nature b. Capitalism o Clem
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