Something unusual is happening on Isle Royale. What’s to be done?
Before we consider this, let’s consider another story. Let’s see what Mommy’s friends are up to. By “Mommy” I mean “Mother Nature.” Here’s the story as told by her friends: Mother Nature has a bunch of connected parts. They keep each other and every “ecosystem” healthy and “in balance.” If any part is tampered with, uh-oh! Out of balance.
You’ve heard this story before. It is taught daily in North America’s schools and universities and on television. There’s a problem, however. “The balance of nature”—like Mother Nature herself—is a fairytale.
Some fairytales are fine. This one is not. But back to the story:“Wilderness” is best. It’s paradise. And there are two things necessary to keep it that way.
- Keep man out. Man ruins wilderness.
- Put back anything that’s missing. Restore the perfect balance that existed before humans showed up.
Federal “wilderness preservation” laws are based on this fairytale. More than 165,000 square miles of the United States is now federal “wilderness,” off-limits to things such as mineral exploration, logging, ranching, farming, and hunting. That’s not all. Private organizations such as The Nature Conservancy (TNC) are also dedicated to turning productive land back into “protected” wilderness. That means kicking out most human activity and keeping it out. The TNC uses many millions in federal grants (taxpayer money) to buy land, put it out of production, and “restore wilderness.”
Where do such powerful “wilderness” and “ecosystem” movements come from? They come from a world view that ignores and even denies the realities of God, man, and creation. The false idea of “balance of nature” is the claim that if you simply leave Mommy alone, her “natural regulation” will keep things working smoothly. Trouble is, creation (nature) has not worked that way since the Garden of Eden.
Those first hearty souls who risked life and family to cross the Atlantic eventually to establish American freedom brought with them a realistic view of wilderness and their responsibility to overcome its challenges. It was not merely a matter of survival but a matter of what they saw as their calling to serve God and to serve their fellow man.
“Be fruitful,” they read in the beginning chapter of Genesis. “Increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (vs. 28). It was a call to responsible productivity. And though they also took seriously the Genesis account of God’s curse upon the ground because of man’s rebellion, they were undaunted. In spite of the subsequent realities of sweat and toil, disease and drought, predators and weeds, hurricanes and rootworms, their guiding mandate to “subdue the earth” did not crumble.
Along with the hard assignment to manage and develop God’s creation came the promise of blessing—abundant crops, the satisfaction of seeing a job well done, and in their case, the land of promise.
How do the radical “preservationists” of the modern left respond to that historic and lasting world view—to that pioneering spirit of the young America and to North America’s eventual greatness in the modern world? They preach the opposite. Leave Mother Earth alone, they say. She will flourish and be happy. She’s pure and perfect. Just keep man out. He will mess up her natural balance.
“We humans have become a disease—the humanpox,” Earth First! founder Dave Foreman once declared. “Humans who love the wild, whose primary loyalty is to Earth and not to Homo sapiens” must “form the warrior society” to “fight and destroy” the “humanpox.”
In the 19th century, Sierra Club founder John Muir wrote to fellow pantheist Ralph Waldo Emerson, “I invite you to join me in a month’s worship with Nature in the high temples of the great Sierra Crown beyond our holy Yosemite.”
With similar spiritual devotion, Greenpeace founder Paul Watson [Correction: Patrick Moore is the founder of Greenpeace—ed.] condemned what he called “a blind allegiance to the laws of man over the higher, more profound, laws of nature.” He described “the human species” as “a viral epidemic to the earth.”
These environmentalists and their disturbing spiritual devotion to an imaginary Mommy bring us back to our very first paragraph—and out into the northwest part of Lake Superior to a rocky little island chain and its main island, Isle Royale. It’s now a U.S. national park that has been declared “federal wilderness.” Isle Royale National Park’s main inhabitants are wolves and moose and, in an odd twist, secular university biologists.
For 57 years, their team of scientific researchers from Michigan Tech University has been conducting the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Study—intruding upon Isle Royale to observe and record how “Mother Nature” works there without man’s intrusion (ahem!). Trouble is, neither Mommy nor the scientific team has been doing so hot. As of January, this year, there were only three wolves left.
Wolves on the island have been inbreeding for so long, they have developed a deadly spinal deformity. “Letting nature take its course” apparently now means the end of the island wolves—unless. Against a backdrop of strenuous protests from some leading environmentalists, Isle Royale biologists and federal officials (regretfully) say man will probably have to intrude even more dramatically—to come to the rescue.
(to be concluded in my next post)
This article is an updated version of one published in Christian Renewal magazine in 2012.