Ecology, War: Connections the Phrase Essay

Total Length: 999 words ( 3 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 2

Page 1 of 3

Colonial power was expressed in the dominance of people and dominance over ecology, a war that the colonists were determined to win. The native resistance was cast as 'savage' because the non-Christian natives wished to keep the land wild, rather than appropriately allow the more 'civilized' Europeans to dominate. Destroying native control and folk practices, taming the forest and artificially imposing Christianity, European crops, European notions of private property and ownership, and European systems of government were all deemed to be critical parts of the civilization process.

One problem with this type of civilization was that long after the native people had been removed, the land continued to silently protest. The Dust Bowl, the blowing-away of the soil in the Great Plains during the 1930s, was not a freakish act of nature. Rather, it was the result of unsustainable farming practices. "Would-be farmers…had reason to think they could prosper by farming wheat -- at the time, prices were good and the area was enjoying a period of relatively wet years. But the land was shortgrass prairie and was best suited for the buffalo that roamed there until they were hunted to near extinction in the 19th century. After a few prosperous years of wheat farming, the price of wheat dropped, and it continued dropping for several years, causing the farmers to rip up ever-larger areas of perennial grass for the cultivation of annual crops, until virtually all of the shortgrass prairie had been plowed…the rain pattern in the High Plains shifted.
In 1931, an eight-year period of drought began, and the stage was set for catastrophe" (Welch 2010, p.1).

War does not simply destroy lives -- it can also destroy entire populations and eradicate cultures. Some of the deepest causes of war -- a desire for more territory, food and power -- is linked to dominance of the land. Unlike the Europeans of the past, a love of artificiality and imposition upon nature is not longer seen as a positive thing. Yet the routine habits that are the legacy of industrialization still linger in our society, destroying the natural ecology.

While human beings, even buffalo, can be eradicated, the needs of nature do not go away. If humans make war upon nature by treating it cruelly, nature's response is harsh, as seen in the modern catastrophe of global warming. Pollution has caused nature to retaliate, and rather than conquer nature it seems as if nature has turned against us. Peace with nature will prove elusive unless human beings radically change their lifestyle practices, and seek to truly live in harmony with the needs of their Mother Nature.

Works Cited

The American West. Native Americans. October 20, 2010.

Virginia agriculture. Virginia Places. October 20, 2010.

Welch, Carolyn Review of Timothy Egan's The Worst Hard Time. September 2, 2010.

October 20, 2010. Mother Earth News.

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