The debate over the environment crisis is not new: anxiety about industry’s impact on the environment has existed for over a century. What is new is the extreme polarization of views. Mounting evidence of humanity’s capacity to damage the environment irreversibly coupled with suspicions that government, industry, and even science might be impotent to prevent environmental destruction have provoked accusatory polemics on the part of environmentalists. In turn, these polemics have elicited a corresponding backlash from industry. The sad effect of this polarization is that it is now even more difficult for industry than it was a hundred years ago to respond appropriately to impact analyses that demand action.
Unlike today’s adversaries, earlier ecological reformers shared with advocates of industrial growth a confidence in timely corrective action. George P. Marsh’s pioneering conservation tract Man and Nature (1864) elicited wide acclaim without embittered denials. Man and Nature castigated Earth’s despoilers for heedless greed, declaring that humanity “has brought the face of the Earth to a desolation almost as complete as that of the Moon.” But no entrepreneur of industrialists sought to refute Marsh’s accusations, to defend the gutting of forests or the slaughter of wildlife as economically essential, or to dismiss his ecological warnings as hysterical. To the contrary, they generally agreed with him.
Why? Marsh and his followers took environmental improvement and economic progress as givens: they disputed not the desirability of conquering nature but the bungling way in which the conquest was carried out. Blame was not personalized, Marsh denounced general greed rather than particular entrepreneurs, and the media did not hound malefactors. Further, corrective measures seemed to entail no sacrifice, to demand no draconian remedies. Self-interest underwrote most prescribed reforms. Marsh’s emphasis on future stewardship was then a widely accepted ideal (if not practice). His ecological admonitions were in keeping with the Enlightenment premise that humanity’s mission was to subdue and transform nature.
Not until the 1960s did a gloomier perspective gain popular ground. Fredric Clements’ equilibrium model of ecology, developed in the 1930s, seemed consistent with mounting environmental disasters. In this view, nature was most fruitful when least altered. Left undisturbed, flora and fauna gradually attained maximum diversity and stability. Despoliation thwarted the culmination or shortened the duration of this beneficent climax: technology did not improve nature but destroyed it.
The equilibrium model became an ecological mystique: environmental interference was now taboo, wilderness adored. Nature as unfinished fabric perfected by human ingenuity gave way to the image nature debased and endangered by technology. In contrast to the Enlightenment vision of nature, according to which rational managers construct an ever more improved environment, twentieth-century reformers’ vision of nature calls for a reduction of human interference in order to restore environmental stability.
14. Which one of the following most accurately states the main idea of the passage?
(A) Mounting evidence of humanity’s capacity to damage the environment should motivate action to prevent further damage.
(B) The ecological mystique identified with Frederic Clements has become a religious conviction among ecological reformers.
(C) George P. Marsh’s ideas about conservation and stewardship have heavily influenced the present debate over the environment.
(D) The views of ecologists and industrial growth advocates concerning the environment have only recently become polarized.
(E) General greed, rather than particular individuals or industries, should be blamed for the environmental crisis.
15. The author refers to the equilibrium model of ecology as an “ecological mystique” (liens 54-55) most likely in order to do which one of the following?
(A) underscore the fervor with which twentieth-century reformers adhere to the equilibrium model
(B) point out that the equilibrium model of ecology has recently been supported by empirical scientific research
(C) express appreciation for how plants and animals attain maximum diversity and stability when left alone
(D) indicate that the idea of twentieth-century ecological reformers are often so theoretical as to be difficult to understand
(E) indicate how widespread support is for the equilibrium model of ecology in the scientific community
16. Which one of the following practices is most clearly an application of Frederic Clements’ equilibrium model of ecology?
(A) introducing a species into an environment to which it is not help control the spread of another species that no longer has any natural predators
(B) developing incentives for industries to take corrective measures to protect the environment
(C) using scientific methods to increase the stability of plants and animals in areas where species are in danger of becoming extinct
(D) using technology to develop plant and animal resources but balancing that development with stringent restrictions on technology
(E) setting areas of land aside to be maintained as wilderness from which the use of extraction of natural resources is prohibited
17. The passage suggests that George P. Marsh and today’s ecological reformers would be most likely to agree with which one of the following statements?
(A) Regulating industries in order to protect the environment does not conflict with the self interest of those industries.
(B) Solving the environmental crisis does not require drastic and costly remedies.
(C) Human despoliation of the Earth has caused widespread environmental damage.
(D) Environmental improvement and economic progress are equally important goals.
(E) Rather than blaming specific industries, general greed should be denounced as the cause of environmental destruction.
18. The passage is primarily concerned with which one of the following?
(A) providing examples of possible solutions to a current crisis
(B) explaining how conflicting viewpoints in a current debate are equally valid
(C) determining which of two conflicting viewpoints in a current debate is more persuasive
(D) outlining the background and development of conflicting viewpoints in a current debate
(E) demonstrating weaknesses in the arguments made by one side in a current debate