In the issue of environmental protection, ecocentrism embraced by deep ecologists, biocentrism upheld by animal and plant rights supporters, the concept of balance in the food chain presented by Aldo Leopold, and the aesthetics of wilderness in David Thoreau’s nature writing are the mainstream thoughts. These thoughts, though important in themselves, relatively neglect the importance of the role of humans in protecting the environment. My thesis is that the success or failure of environmental protection resides mainly in the effort and strength of eco-humans to deter the harm precipitated by eco-killers and that it is necessary to raise the ecological consciousness on the part of the common people through ecological discourses and literary works. This will strengthen the efforts of eco-humans to protect the environment. The aim of this thesis is to foreground the importance of humanity’s role in the protection of the environment.
From the ecological perspective, people can be divided into three groups: eco-humans, eco-killers and people in the gray area, that is, the common people. Some eco-humans make use of their ecological knowledge to change the eco-killers’ harmful attitude into environmental friendliness so that the life force of the environment, that is the wildness of the environment and wildlife in it, can keep unfolding. Some rely on animism to stimulate the ecological consciousness of eco-killers and the common people, highlighting the transmigration of the soul among humans, other life forms, and non-life forms. This will help revive the dying environment. Some examine with their conscience the tragedy or disaster caused to the environment and animated entities in it by the scientific eco-killers who have engaged in changing the bodies of animals for human purposes through vivisection or transgenic engineering. This tragedy or disaster serves as a warning to people on earth against repeating the same wrongdoing. Others, seeing that the wilderness is on the verge of devastation due to the development projects launched by capitalistic businessmen and the ignorant government officials, cannot but resort to sabotage as a necessary evil to preserve the wilderness.
This thesis is composed of six chapters. The first chapter clarifies what the environment, the wilderness, and wildness refer to, explains the definitions of eco-humans and eco-killers, and brings the characteristics of eco-humans to the fore by enumerating seventeen rules for eco-humans’ behavior. Then relevant documentation is provided to support the point that to protect the environment is to protect wildness. Wildness, according to Gary Snyder and other nature writers such as David Thoreau, has changed in meaning from a negative thing to a positive one: wildness is the unfolding of life, energy, and potential. It is the synonym of beauty, health, and spiritual strength. To protect the environment, people should, besides protecting a place, be more devoted to protecting rivers, mountains, farmland, villages, oceans, islands, wilderness areas, as well as cities. For this reason, this thesis focuses on the discussions of the ecological problems in the previously mentioned types of environments.
To support the above-mentioned argument, the following five chapters respectively explore the activities of eco-humans and eco-killers and their impact on the environment in the five eco-novels: Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer, Linda Hogan’s People of the Whale, H. G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, and Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang. Moreover, the various concepts of ecology, holism, animism, the impact of the prevailing capitalism on the habitats of humans and non-humans, the precautionary principle, environmental activism, and the relevant ecological theories are used as supporting materials to enhance the reliability of logical reasoning in this thesis. The Monkey Wrench Gang is put just before the concluding chapter because its open ending signifies that environmental protect is a never-ending task.
The concluding chapter emphasizes that if eco-humans can function efficiently, eco-killers can be deterred from doing harmful activities to the environment; otherwise, the scenario of the possible consequences is unimaginable. On account of capitalism prevailing and the common people being ignorant and selfish, eco-humans should be persistent with their dedication to environmental protection and the common people’s ecological consciousness should be raised all the time to back up eco-humans.