What Humans are Doing

  • Keynote Paper


The mark of man on the surface of the earth is as old as the early beginning of mankind. The history of humanity may be envisaged as a struggle against its environment, involving a progressive liberation from the local, natural conditions and the gradual enslavement of the living world by man’s own inventions. Biological motivations explain this tendency. But, as in every human activity, cultural traditions and beliefs encourage us to modify our simple actions and reactions. A philosophical attitude is the primary determining factor of any human attitude. Western philosophies emphasize the supremacy of man over the rest of the world, which only exists to serve him— or so they contend. Since the time of Francis Bacon and Descartes early in the seventeenth century, we have been convinced that we are the masters and possessors of nature. The prodigious progress of the sciences seems to give us the right to do what we want and so to confirm this philosophical attitude. Therefore, it is no wonder that protection of wildlife and sound management of the surface of the earth according to biological laws, did not receive any support from this western philosophy.


Green Revolution Underdeveloped Country Western Philosophy Philosophical Attitude Environmental Future 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Angot, M. (1959). Evolution de la pêche du Troca (Trochus niloticus L.) en Nouvelle-Galédonie. Un exemple d’‘overfishing’ avec ses causes et les remèdes apportés. Terre et Vie, ιo6e Année, No. 4, pp. 307–14, 1 fig.Google Scholar
  2. Arvill, R. (1967). Man and Environment: Crisis and the Strategy of Choice. Penguin Books, London: 332 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  3. Bell, G. de (Ed.) (1970). The Environmental Handbook. Ballantyne/Friends of the Earth/Intertext, New York: xv + 367 pp.Google Scholar
  4. Burkenroad, M. D. (1948). Fluctuation in abundance of Pacific Halibut. Bull. Bingham Ocean. Coll., 11, pp. 81–129.Google Scholar
  5. Carbenier, R. (1969). Aperçu sur quelques effets de la pollution des eaux douces de la zone tempérée sur les biocénoses aquatiques. Min. Educ. Nat. Com. Trav. Hist. Scient. Bull. Sect. Géorg., 80 (1967), pp. 45–132.Google Scholar
  6. Carson, R. (1962). Silent Spring. Crest, New York: Houghton Mifflin, Boston: xiii + 368, illustr.Google Scholar
  7. Charlier, R. H. (1971). Pollution problems. Intern. J. Environmental Studies, 1, pp. 129–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ciriacy-Wantrup, S. V. (1968). Resource Conservation: Economics and Policies (3rd edn). University of California Press, Berkeley: xvi + 395 pp.Google Scholar
  9. Commoner, B. (1966). Science and Survival. Victor Gollancz, London: 128 pp.Google Scholar
  10. Cousteau, J.-Y. (1971). Statement on global marine degradation. Biological Conservation, 4(1), pp. 6I-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cox, G. W. (Ed.) (1969). Readings in Conservation Ecology. Appleton-Century-Crofts, New York: xii + 595, illustr.Google Scholar
  12. Croker, R. S. (1954). The sardine story—a tragedy. Outdoor Calif., 15(1), pp. 6–8.Google Scholar
  13. Darling, F. Fraser & Milton, J. P. (Eds) (1966). Future Environments of North America. Natural History Press, Garden City, New York: xv + 767 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  14. Dasmann, R. F. (1964). African Game Ranching. Pergamon Press, Oxford: 75 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  15. Dasmann, R. F. (1965). The Destruction of California. Macmillan, New York, and Collier-Macmillan, London: vii + 276 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  16. Dasmann, R. F. (19680). Environmental Conservation (2nd edn). John Wiley, New York: xiii + 375 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  17. Dasmann, R. F. (19686). A Different Kind of Country. Macmillan, New York, and Collier-Macmillan, London: viii + 276 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  18. de Bell, G. See Bell, G. de Dorst, J. (1970). Before Nature Dies (transl. C. D. Sherman). Collins, London: 352 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  19. Dubos, R. (1968). So Human an Animal. Charles Scribner, New York: xiv + 269 pp.Google Scholar
  20. Ehrlich, R. P. & Ehrlich, A. H. (1970). Population, Resources, Environment: Issues in Human Ecology. W. H. Freeman, San Francisco: [x] + 383 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  21. Environmental Quality (1970). First Annual Report of the Council on Environmental Quality. U.S. Govt Printing Office, Washington, D.C.: xxv + 326 pp.Google Scholar
  22. Fosberg, F. R. (Ed) (1963). Man’s Place in the Island Ecosystem. A Symposium. Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu: vii + 264 pp., illustr. + additional map.Google Scholar
  23. Fraser Darling, F. See Darling, F. FraserGoogle Scholar
  24. Gabrielson, I. N. (1959). Wildlife Conservation (2nd edn). Macmillan, New York: xii + 244 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  25. Galbraith, J. K. (1969). The Affluent Society (2nd edn). Hamish Hamilton, London: xxxiii + 333 pp.Google Scholar
  26. Graham, E. H. (1944). Natural Principles of Land Use. Oxford University Press, New York: xiii + 274, illustr.Google Scholar
  27. Gros, A. (1960). La convention sur la pêche et la conservation des ressources bio- logiques de la haute mer. Recueil Cours Acad. Droit Int. (1959), 97, pp. 1–89.Google Scholar
  28. Haden-Guest, S., Wright, J. K. & Teclaff, E. M. (Eds) (1956). A World Geography of Forest Resources. Ronald Press, New York: xviii + 736 pp.Google Scholar
  29. Harris, R. J. C. (1970). Cancer and the environment. Intern. J. Environmental Studies, I, pp. 59–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Harroy, J. P. (1944). Afrique, Terre qui Meurt. Hayez et Office int. de Librairie, Bruxelles: x + 557 pp.Google Scholar
  31. Holdgate, M. W. & Wace, N. M. (1961). The influence of man on the floras and faunas of southern islands. Polar Record, 10, pp. 475–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. IUCN (1966–70). Survival Service Commission. Red Data Book. 1. Mammalia (N. Simon), 1966; 2. Aves (J. Vincent), 1966; 3. Pisces (R. R. Miller), 1968; 4. Amphibia and Reptilia (R. E. Honegger), 1968; 5. Angiospermae (R. Melville), 1970.Google Scholar
  33. Johnson, F. S. (1970). The balance of atmospheric oxygen and carbon dioxide. Biological Conservation, 2(2), pp. 83–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jungk, R. (1969). Imagination and the future. Int. Social Sci.Journ., Paris: 21, pp. 557–62.Google Scholar
  35. Laws, R. M. (1960). Problems of whale conservation. Trans. 28th North American Wildlife Conf., pp. 304–19.Google Scholar
  36. Le Cren, E. D. & Holdgate, M. W. (Eds) (1962). The Exploitation of Natural Animal Populations. A symposium of the British Ecological Society. Blackwell, Oxford: xiv + 399 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  37. Lier, H. van (1962). Le nouvel Age. Casterman, Liège: 232 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  38. Mellanby, K. (1967). Pesticides and Pollution. Collins, London: 221 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  39. Mumford, L. (1967). The Myth of the Machine: Technics and Human Development. Har- court, Brace & World, New York, Seeker & Warburg, London: ix + 342 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  40. Nicholson, M. (1970). The Environmental Revolution. Hodder & Stoughton, London: xiii + 366 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  41. Odum, H. T. (1971). Environment, Power, and Society. Wiley-Interscience, New York: ix + 331 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  42. Olson, T. A. & Burgess, F. J. (Eds) (1967). Pollution and Marine Ecology. Wiley-Interscience, New York: xvii + 364 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  43. Phillips, J. (1959). Agriculture and Ecology in Africa. Faber & Faber, London: 422 pp., map.Google Scholar
  44. Platt, J. (1969). What we must do. Science, 106, pp. 1115–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. PoLUNiN, N. (1967). Eléments de Géographie botanique. Gauthier-Villars, Paris: xxiii + 532 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  46. Ray, C. (1970). Ecology, law, and the ‘marine revolution’. Biological Conservation, 3(1), pp. 7–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Reed, J. C. (1970). Effects of oil development in Arctic America. Biological Conservation, 2(4), pp. 273–7, illustr.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Russell, R. S. (1969). Contamination of the biosphere with radioactivity. Biological Conservation, 2(1), pp. 2–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sankaranarayanan, K. (1971). Recent advances in mammalian radiation genetics… Intern. J. Environmental Studies, 1, pp. 187–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Scientific American (1970). The biosphere. Scientific American, 223(3), pp. 45–208, illustr.Google Scholar
  51. Sears, P. B. (1967). Deserts on the March (3rd edn). University of Oklahoma Press, Norman: xiii +178 pp.Google Scholar
  52. Ternisien, J. A. (196a) Lespollutions et leurs effets. PUF, Paris: 188 pp.Google Scholar
  53. Ternisien, J. A. (19686). La lutte contre les pollutions. PUF, Paris: 183 pp.Google Scholar
  54. Thomas, W.L., Jr. (Ed.) (1956). Man’s Role in Changing the Face of the Earth. University of Chicago Press, Chicago: xxxviii + 1193 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  55. UNESCO (1963). Enquête sur les Ressources naturelles du Continent africain. UNESCO, Paris: 448 pp., maps.Google Scholar
  56. UNESCO (1970). Use and Conservation of the Biosphere. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Paris (Natural Resources Division X): 272 pp.Google Scholar
  57. van Lier, H. See Lier, H. vanGoogle Scholar
  58. Vibert, R. & Lagler, K. F. (1961). Pêches continentales. Biologie et amênagement. Dunod, Paris: xxiv + 720 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  59. Wolstenholme, G. (Ed.) (1963). Man and his Future. Churchill, London: vi + 410 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  60. Woodwell, G. M. & Smith, H. H. (1969). Diversity and Stability in Ecological Systems. Brookhaven Symposia in Biology No. 22. Brookhaven National Laboratories, Upton, New York: [v] + 264 pp., illustr.Google Scholar
  61. Worthington, E. B. (1961). The Wild Resources of East and Central Africa. H.M. Stationery Office, London: 26 pp. (Colonial Office, No. 352).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Nicholas Polunin 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keynote Paper

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations