Value in Nature

I found Paavo’s lecture on his project to be very interesting and it was the theme of the intrinsic value held within natural spaces that resonated most with me. As a Canadian, I am privileged to live in a country where open and wild spaces are in abundance. Similar to Finland, the vast majority of the country is sparsely or completely uninhabited. Yet due to industry and “resource” extraction, natural areas are being exploited and forever changed.

Waiting for the start of lecture I happened to find an opinion post entitled “Antarctica: The planet’s imagination.” Coincidentally this article happened to be related to the lecture and looked to explain what it was about the protection of our wild and natural places that was so intrinsically valuable. Out of an inability to recreate the same meaning in my own words, and laziness, I will share large parts of the article by Lucy Bledsoe that I found particularly relevant:

“I went to Antarctica – the biggest, wildest, coldest, most intense wilderness of all – to find answers to that question, and also to the bigger question, why should wilderness exist at all?”

“At a time when people are desperate for oil for energy, water to drink and to nourish crops, minerals to make our mobile phones and computers, wood to build our houses, why would we leave vast tracts of land untouched, unused, just sitting there? It is a question I have deep feelings about but have difficulty articulating rational reasons why wilderness, including Antarctica, should be allowed to exist. When I read the reasons others give, articulate writers and scientists, I know they are right, and I can follow their arguments, but none of these answers are ones I can say to the guy sitting next to me on an airplane who just wants to drive his car and heat his house. Never mind the politicians who need not just simple and convincing answers, but ones that will sway them away from their corporate sponsors.”

“The answer has something to do with the value in being lost. Being lost is the antithesis of home. The relationship between the two is inextricable, a philosophical paradox. You cannot find home if you do not experience the unknown, and geographically, the unknown is wilderness.”

“Being lost is an extraordinary opportunity. Being lost is the heart of imagination. And imagination is the fodder of all creative endeavours, all new ideas.”

“Why do we need wilderness?  How can people justify putting it aside – these vast tracts of land that are not being used in any calculable way? We are seeing how the “emptiness” is necessary. How our knowledge of ourselves depends upon it. How places like Antarctica and the Arctic actually drive the entire planet’s climate.”

“The raw, uncontaminated continent speaks to something pure and vital in humanity. The apparent blankness might instead be called openness. We do not need to assign a purpose to every single square inch of the planet. We do need imagination, vast areas of space where ideas and creativity and solutions can foment. Antarctica represents the frontier of imagination, the gorgeous unknown.”

I found this articulation of the intrinsic value of nature to be particularly beautifully written and relevant.   Overall, a great argument for non-use. I do not have much to add but felt that this was something relevant and worth sharing.

The full article can be found:

1 comment
  1. A funny coincidence indeed as the author of the article also talks about Other just like Paavo did. That’s not a concept you hear on every business school lecture. Great piece in general too, thanks for sharing! I especially liked the author’s professed anguish at the difficulty of justifying the existence of wilderness to the average person; instrumental rationality (which tightly accompanies market logic) nowadays sits quite deep in our everyday norms and practices, and it can be quite difficult to argue against.

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