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Science and Land Use Policy

     Science and conclusions determined through evidence based approaches are essential to the act of composing and executing ethical land use policies. Today, the entirety of the ecosystem found on earth holds over seven billion members of the human species. Meanwhile, numerous other species have declined in population as humans compete for an increasingly limited number of resources. In considering the context, it is alarming to realize that the existing scientific consensus has concluded that the earth has already entered a new era of unparalleled rates in species extinction (Futuyma, 2013).

     Upon review of the data, its understood that unlike in previous mass extinctions, the present circumstance is entirely the result of shortsighted human activities. To clarify the threat, major ecological disruptions have always been a fundamental precursor to each of the earths preceding mass extinctions (Holland, 2016). However in contrast, present ecological disruptions can directly be attributed to human activities, which cause a loss of habitat for the other species on earth. This fact is further exacerbated by the climate changing effects humans are producing amid the discharge of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

The sustainability of the path forward is unlikely to improve unless rational policies, accounting for both land uses and climate change, are put in place and continuously improved upon in the US, and within the global community. An underestimation of the consequences of failed land use policy and management practices is at best, a serious miscalculation. Numerous issues including clean air and water, social conflicts over limited resources, and maintaining a healthy environment for all life on earth requires more careful consideration today, than ever before. 

     The entirety of the topic is complex because the technological rise of the human species also brings an increased need for natural resource exploitation. Maintaining responsible land use policies that balance the preservation of natural processes found in wild ecosystems, with energy extraction and other activities that have significant impacts on the biosphere, are also essential to human objectives and will be vital in supporting a sustainable future for all life on earth.

     The wilderness idea rejects a landscape without wild places and further supports the preservation of a healthy environment for other species whom also inhabit the earth. Preserving wilderness lands and the idea that eventually led to their legal protection, remains critical to maintaining a prospect for a healthy future. Still, various aspects of these benefits are intangible and risk being overlooked by an American populace being inundated with negative messages and other diversions within the political arena. A shortsighted approach to future land use decisions and environmental policies may someday lead to complete ecosystem devastation. The endurance of the wilderness idea can help minimize both the known and unknown risks inherent in the situation. 

Alternative Land Use Visions

      Disputes regarding federal land ownership are not uncommon in the United States. Throughout American history, numerous controversies over federal land ownership and management practices have occurred (Vincent, 2014). Before the 20th century, the settlement and taming of wildness was generally encouraged through various laws that advocated colonization of the entire North American continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans; colloquially referred to as Manifest Destiny.

      Although only a few Americans had the foresight to realize the benefits taken from wilderness preservation before the end of the 19th century, various incidents would eventually occur that resulted in a new interest over federal land use disputes and wildland preservation issues among the American populace.

From the outset of these often hard fought debates, at least two alternate visions regarding future land use decisions have made themselves evident. On one side, preservationists have fought for wildland protections that have generally required the federal government’s cooperation to be realized. Alternatively, there have been others that question federal authority regarding national land use decisions. Similarly, this view is supported by a minority interest that rejects the methods used when the federal government prioritizes and allocates the resources of the nation. While these viewpoints hold dissimilar values regarding the wilderness resource, the concerns being expressed by all Americans should be better understood by those seeking to maintain enduring wilderness protections. A continued cooperation among a majority of Americans will likely be required to maintain the lasting presence of wilderness in the US. 


Futuyma, D. J. (2013). Evolution. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer.

Holland, S. M. (2016). Preceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(30). http://www.pnas.org/content/113/30/8349.full

Vincent, H. a. (2014). Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data. Washington D.C.: Congressional Research Service. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42346.pdf

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