The Nature Conservancy’s Chief Scientist Peter Kareiva has questioned some of the basic myths of environmentalism: that nature is fragile, that its highest value is as a place of solitude and that it’s best when people aren’t in it.
His writings that call Edward Abbey a hypocrite for writing about the value of solitude in his classic “Desert Solitaire” while telling of his loneliness in the Utah wilderness in his journal have triggered a backlash from environmental leaders like conservation biologist Michael Soule. Since the Nature Conservancy is the largest environmental group in the world, Kareiva’s voice is powerful.
The ecologist and evolutionary biologist had worked on the northern spotted owl case in the 1980s and went to work for the National Marine Fisheries Service when it developed the “Four H” plan for recovering salmon in the Columbia River Basin. (The four H’s are Hydroelectric, Hatcheries, Habitat and Harvest.) He’s been at the Nature Conservancy since 2002.
He spoke Thursday in Boise to the Idaho Environmental Forum. I interviewed him earlier and he will be the subject of my column Monday.