shifts in species eomposition, climate, and other conditions. Asrnpaleogeographer Cathy Whitlock wrote, “No millennium hasrnbeen exactly like any other during the last 20,000 years.”rnTherefore, “conservation efforts that emphasize the preservationrnof communities or vegetation types will probably bernunsuccessful because future climate changes quite likely willrndismantle the community or vegetation type of concern.” Andrnone of these natural agents of change is humanity. The vauntedrn”original and unchanging pre-settlement” conditions neverrnexisted. Rather than a forested Garden of Eden untouched byrnhuman hands, the pre-Columbian landscape was an everchangingrnhuman artifact.rnMost experts on prehistory agree that Native Americanrnhunting and burning radically altered the landscape before thernfirst settlers arrived, and that forests, rather than shrinking, arernperhaps more extensive in modern times than before Columbusrnlanded. As University of Wisconsin geographer WilliamrnM. Denevan observed, “the Native American landscape of thernearly sixteenth century was a humanized landscape almost everywhere.rnPopulations were large, forest composition had beenrnmodified, grasslands had been created, wildlife disrupted, andrnerosion was severe in places. Earthworks, roads, fields, and settlementsrnwere ubiquitous.”rnEcological historian Charles Kay agrees: “The modern conceptrnof wilderness as areas without human influence is a myth.”rnThe pre-Columbian continent, says Kay, “was not a ‘wilderness’rnwaiting to be discovered, instead it was home to tens ofrnmillions of aboriginal peoples before European-introduced diseasesrndecimated their numbers.” These peoples “structuredrnentire plant and animal communities” by limiting wildlife populationsrnwith their hunting and “purposefully modifying thernvegetation with fire.” Game, relentlessly hunted, was oftenrnscarce, and vegetation, rather than consisting of mature forest,rnwas constantly renewed by frequent aboriginal burning. Onlyrnanimals such as bison, whose migrating herds periodically escapedrnpursuing Indians, persisted in relatively large numbers.rnClearly, these ecosystem models were intended not to reflectrnnature but to support a theory of value. They suggested thatrnnature ought to prefer stability, ought to be self-regulating,rnought to prefer diversity. As philosopher Carl Hempel observedrnin 1958, when a scientist says that something is necessary forrnthe “survival of group or organism” these words may have “therndeceptive appearance of clarity” but are unavoidably valueladen.rn”For when we speak of biological needs or requirementsrn. . . we construe these, not as conditions of just the barest survivalrnbut as conditions of persistence in, or return to, a ‘normal’rnor ‘healthy’ state, or to a state in which the system is a ‘properlyrnfunctioning whole.'” Thus “there is definite danger that differentrninvestigators will use the concept of functional prerequisitern. . . with valuational overtones corresponding to their diversernconceptions of what are the most ‘essential’ characteristics ofrn’genuine’ survival for a system of the kind under consideration.”rnTheories of self-regulating ecosystems cannot, therefore,rneven in principle, distinguish fact from value. To understand arnthing, according to such reasoning, is to know how that thingrnought to behave within the system. It reflects a teleologicalrnview of nature not unlike medieval Aristotelianism, which hadrninsisted on knowing the “proper ends” of things. Equatingrnequilibrium and biodiversity with value-laden expressions suchrnas “ecological health” and “resiliency,” systems ecologists slidrnbetween fact and value, science and advocacy, because theirrnparadigm did not allow them to tell the difference.rnIn this way, ecosystem advocates have emerged as the highrnpriests of a new morality. Jerry Franklin, former president of thernEcological Society of America and leader of “New Forestry” science,rnlaces his work with emotive references to the “integrity ofrnour forest and stream ecosystems” and exhorts his readers torn”adopt a forest ethic” and to “approach forest ecosystems withrnthe respect that their complexity and beauty deserve.” Harvardrnprofessor Edward O. Wilson saturates his writing with ethicalrnexhortations—touting the “intrinsic values of organic diversity,”rndemanding that a “practical ethic” is “urgently needed”rnand that “it is time to invent moral reasoning of a new andrnmore powerful kind.” As Bowler says about such ecological reasoning,rn”We can no longer see science as the source of valuefreerninformation…. The use of scientific ideas to uphold socialrnvalues has been so obvious in this area that more perceptive scientistsrnhave given up pretending that they have a method forrngathering purely objective knowledge.”rnSince America’s preservation policies are based on thisrnflawed idea of the self-regulating ecosystem, they are, in effect,rnaimed at restoring and preserving conditions that neverrnexisted and never could exist. By seeking to do the impossiblern—stop change by insulating biological systems from humanrninfluence—they are actually achieving the exact opposite resultrn—^bringing about alterations to the landscape that imperilrncountless creatures.rnRather than achieving “preservation,” efforts to insulate biotarnfrom disruption spells catastrophe for many species whosernsurvival requires either disturbed habitats or young (“early successional”)rnrapidly changing, biological communities. In MendocinornCounty, the Lotus Blue Butterfly apparently went extinctrnrecently, two scientists reported, “due to a decline in earlyrnsuccessional habitat supporting its principal host plant lotusrnformosissimus.” In Oregon, the Silverspot Butterfly, whichrnthrived in pre-Columbian times when native American burningrnsustained its preferred grasslands, was declared endangeredrnas the absence of human-caused fires allowed forests to encroachrnon its territory. In New York, the Karner Blue Butterflyrnremains at risk for similar reasons. In Texas, black-capped vireosrnhave become endangered, as too much protection destroysrnits preferred habitat of oaks, sumacs, and shrubbery—conditionsrnwhich, before European settlement, had been sustainedrnby burning and soil erosion. And in wilderness areas, wildlifernsanctuaries, and national parks throughout the country, spreadingrnold growth forests are decimating the habitat of countlessrnother creatures that depend on eariy successional conditions.rnMeanwhile, overly protected forests are dying of old age, thusrncreating what the National Commission on Wildfires describedrnin 1994 as “a fire environment so disaster-prone inrnmany areas that it will periodically and tragically overwhelmrnour best efforts at fire prevention and suppression.” Nationally,rndeer are five times more numerous than when Columbus landed,rnand are pushing endangered plants to the brink of extinction.rnIn the West, overpopulated elk are destroying willow andrnaspen that sustain a host of creatures, from beaver to grizzlyrnbears. And thanks to overly abundant prey, predators have multipliedrnas well. In the Rockies, mountain lions are more numerousrnthan at any other time in history. Not coincidentally,rnthey are increasingly preying on pets and children. Lion assaultsrnwere ten times as frequent from 1970 to 1990 as betweenrn1909 and 1932.rnBecause of the glaring flaws in the ecosystem idea and thern20/CHRONICLESrnrnrn