09.30.19 | Deep Ecology/Tompkins Conservation

The very notion of deep ecology will likely rattle the modern soul. It holds that, no, perhaps we humans are not the center of the universe. Perhaps Homo Sapiens are only part of the natural world in which there is a subtle balance of complex inter-relationships in which the existence of organisms is dependent on the existence of others within the ecosystem. Perhaps the environment is a matter that goes beyond a mere focus on satisfying man's immediate needs i.e. ecosystem to each human: get over thyself. The philosophy of deep ecology has fostered a new system of environmental ethics. Regard it as a new "imagined reality" in the context of our discussion surrounding Sapiens (MM 9/23/19).

Now behold the grand initiative undertaken by Tompkins Conservation. More than twenty-five years ago co-founders Douglas R. and Kristine McDivitt Tompkins embarked on a mission that would have gladdened the heart of Teddy Roosevelt when he established the national park system in the U.S. almost hundred years before that. Tompkins Conservation has managed to leverage its own donation of a million acres and, along with contributions from the respective national governments, into a ten million acre extensive park and wildlife recovery system throughout Chile and Argentina. More than a dozen new or expanded national parks, representing thirteen million acres, are thereby protected. The Route of Parks of Chilean Patagonia itself is a scenic 1,700-mile route incorporating seventeen national parks all the way to the southern tip of Chile where there are two additional marine parks.

Put aside, for the moment, the fact this ambitious undertaking is located outside our own country. Regard it as the world's largest petri dish in the investigation of what's possible. To that point, our focus article is an essay (CLICK HERE TO READ, Turning Around) written by Doug Tompkins (founder of The North Face and Esprit clothing) based upon his acceptance speech for his 2015 Global Economy Prize. With the untimely loss of Doug in 2015, Kristine powered the ongoing work of the foundation, including the execution of the key preservation agreement with the Chilean government. Joining us now as our lead participant is Highland member Brady Robinson, a current foundation employee, to further enlighten us on the Tompkins projects, philosophy, and vision.

Steve SmithComment