Ecology

Holmes Rolston,, Cheryl Handel, Kathleen Shields
2007 Journal of Catholic Social Thought  
Ecology" is, etymologically, the logic of living creatures' homes. Christian ethicists find the word suggestively related to "ecumenical," with common roots in the Greek "oikos," the inhabited world. Biology has developed at two main levels: (1) organismic, which is popularly put as "skin-in" biology, and (2) evolutionary-ecosystemic, the latter is "skin-out" biology. Organismic biology, especially at cellular and molecular levels, has been on a fifty-year high, with spectacular successes / in
more » ... edicine, unraveling the genetic code, biotechnology, and so on. Evolutionary biology has profoundly redescribed the world and relocated humans within it; the last century was Darwin's century, his ideas reshaping everything we think in biology. By comparison, ecology is often thought to be a less mature science, for all its importance. Ecosystems are complicated and messy, hard to do experiments on; they are open systems that resist analysis. Still, in the last thre.e decades, ecology has been thrust into the public arena. With the advent of the ecological crisis, then-Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall testified to Congress: "We must begin to work with, not against, the laws of the planet on which we live.... This requires that we begin to obey the dictates of ecology, giving this master science a new and central position in the federal scientific establishment."l Congress in The National Environmental Policy Act expects that the ecological sciences can help the nation "to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony."2
doi:10.5840/jcathsoc20074215 fatcat:fqgvuy5jvfel7j3rowwkzbjzvy