A park ranger maintaining a sign for the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Alaska, where 2.3 million acres have been conserved in the Togiak Wilderness, one of the largest such areas in the country.

Photo credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Conservation thought has been part of the Western sociocultural landscape for more than two centuries. Its practice and ethic have acted as something of a counterbalance to capitalistic ideology and action related to industrialism, growth, and development, which have altered the face of the planet. In some ways, the evolution of conservation as an ethical system has always lagged behind the development of capitalism. Because the widespread understanding of environmental damage was slow to unfold, conservationists were often put in the position of responding to ...

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