ASU professors on the future of nature preservation


Jason Krell

In an effort to better understand the role humanity plays in the future preservation of nature, School of Life Sciences professors Ben Minteer and Stephen Pyne brought distinguished environmental writers, scientists, philosophers, historians, journalists, agency administrators and activists together and published a collection of essays on the subject.

The central theme of the book “After Preservation: Saving American Nature in the Age of Humans” revolves around whether humanity’s effect on nature has ushered in a new geological age – the Anthropocene. Minteer and Pyne share a sampling of many views in a recent article published in “The Conversation,” an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community.

According to an article titled, “What does it mean to preserve nature in the Age of Humans?” there is no clear path forward. Some writers claim humanity has “outgrown” nature, while others seek to remind the public “that we are not gods.” Others seek a middle ground, where pragmatism and humility guide public policy. Environmental experts also caution readers that it is difficult to predict the consequences of whatever decision humanity makes about how to preserve nature.

While Minteer and Pyne contend that the debate was far from settled at the end of "After Preservation," they said their hope is that the collection will help humanity choose a better path for preserving nature on a planet that has nearly nine billion people.