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Ponder eco footprint, professor urges

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OREM — It is time for a radical rethinking of the human presence on the planet and what it means, says Holmes Rolston.

"Future generations aren't likely to be proud of us for destroying the biodiversity on earth," Rolston said. He is a professor of philosophy at Colorado State University, who speaks out often on environmental ethics, science and religion.

Rolston was keynote speaker at Utah Valley State College's annual undergraduate philosophy conference Thursday.

The professor said each person should think about the ecological footprint they are leaving on the Earth. This means how each person affects the environment in their lifetime.

It seems people want more and more: a higher salary and more square footage of floor space, he said. "Bigger and better. There is escalating consumption," Rolston said. "We're not used to thinking of limits as being a good thing."

Nature may soon cease to exist, and all that will be left is "virtual nature." People will create fake wildlands and engineered species, he said.

"It's a landscape we humans have put together," Rolston said. "Nature will be a nature we make."

People can take a virtual tour of Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks, as well as Yellowstone Park, by hitting the Web. Rolston says that's one nature tour he wouldn't be sad to miss.

But there are good things going on environmentally, Rolston said. Some examples are laws on over-fishing, the Endangered Species Act and the Montreal Protocol, which is an international agreement aimed at phasing out products that deplete the ozone layer.

People attending Rolston's speech said they were intrigued by his environmental perspective.

The speaker brought forth "so many important problems we are facing in our world today," said Richard Keller, 74, of Salt Lake City.

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