University of Cambridge > > Department of Geography - main Departmental seminar series > No Going Back: The Scientific and Political Ethics of Ecological Novelty

No Going Back: The Scientific and Political Ethics of Ecological Novelty

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Paul Robbins is an International Visiting Fellow in Geography.

This presentation argues that Ecological Novelty, a condition where new species and mixes of species come to form persistent communities with no precedent, holds unavoidable implications for science. It argues that the “Edenic” sciences focusing on these ecologies— conservation biology, invasion biology/ecology, and restoration ecology—though extremely valuable, are inherently political. Though this has always been the case, the rapid changes in environments around us have made the political implications of these sciences harder to ignore or disguise. As such, these fields will necessarily need to evolve an ethical procedure to adjudicate between ecological interventions, rather than depending on restorative or originary criteria. Further, the evolution of these criteria and standards will necessarily be rooted in principles that come to terms with the political implications and character of scientists and scientific practice within broader diverse publics. The presentation concludes with a brief puzzle for consideration: the ethics of producing and managing biodiversity in the economically productive plantation landscapes of labor-scarce rural India.

This talk is part of the Department of Geography - main Departmental seminar series series.

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