Icicle Creek Statement  [Printer-friendly version]
December 7, 2001


Human society in the twenty-first century bears a large responsibility
to the Earth and its living systems. Our goal is to bring human
activities into harmony with nature so that the Earth may continue to
support all species with natural abundance and diversity.

We acknowledge our kinship with nature and our dependence on robust,
vibrant, ecosystems. We acknowledge there are limits to our ability to
understand or control the natural world of which we are part.

We acknowledge that for millennia, human activities have caused
significant changes in our environment. However, the magnitude of
changes in recent decades, especially the destruction of habitats,
species, and ecosystem functioning, is unprecedented in human history
and signals accelerating decline in many living systems. We recognize
our obligation to protect and restore, where possible, the health and
integrity of ecosystems.

As a modest but urgent step toward restoring a respectful, viable
relationship between humans and the rest of nature, we advocate the
precautionary principle as a primary guide:

"When an activity or condition raises credible threats of harm to
ecosystems, precautionary measures should be taken, even if cause-and-
effect relationships are not fully established."

The precautionary principle obliges us to:

Observe. We must be alert to early manifestations of both harm
and recovery through careful observation, rigorous science, and the
eyes of a vigilant public.

Foresee. We must increase and exercise our abilities to predict
harmful and beneficial consequences of human activities undertaken for
all purposes. This includes applying scientific understanding of the
character and functioning of ecosystems as well as the wisdom of long
human experience and diverse cultural knowledge.

Act. With awareness comes the responsibility to foster recovery
and health and to avoid harm.

Precautionary action related to ecosystems includes, broadly:

Care. Adopting forms of activity that are harmonious with the
health and integrity of ecosystems represents our commitment to the
thriving of future generations of humans and other species.

Creativity. We must learn to ask, habitually, whether harmful
activities are necessary and to seek less destructive, more graceful
ways of fulfilling human needs for survival and well-being.

Courage. When it becomes clear that business-as-usual is
resulting in irrevocable harm, we must have the courage to make major
changes. According to the circumstances, great restraint or bold
experimentation may be necessary.

Restraint. Among the choices we must consider in any
circumstance is to curtail exploitive human activity, restore natural
processes and let nature heal itself.

Restoration. When possible, we must undertake the restoration
of damaged ecosystems, acknowledging that such activities require care
and foresight, and sometimes risk harm. We must proceed on the basis
of our best knowledge and aim for long-term restoration success rather
than short-term convenience or profit.

Participation. Decisions regarding ecosystem health and
restoration must be reached through open, informed, and democratic
processes that consider potentially affected parties, including, in
absentia, future generations of humans and other species.

Flexibility. Because ecosystems are more complex than we can
know, our relationship with nature must be a conversation. We must
conduct all activities with both humility and courage, studying
effects and making appropriate adaptations.

Institutional affiliations are for identification purposes only.

Kristen Blann, Conservation Biology Graduate Program, University of
....Minnesota-St. Paul
Len Broberg, Environmental Studies Program, University of Montana
Karen Cairns, nurse/public health and environmental educator
Kim Crumbo, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council
Paul Dayton, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, California
Michael Earle, Green Group in the European Parliament, Belgium
Tim Gerrodette, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, California
Louis Guillette, Jr., Zoology Department, University of Florida
Eric Higgs, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria,
Marion Hourdequin, Duke University
Terrie Klinger, University of Washington
Gretchen Lambert, University of Washington Fridays Harbor Laboratory
Peter Landres, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, Montana
Jim Lichatowich, salmon consultant and author
Kent Loftin, civil engineer consulting on water resources
Nancy Myers, Science and Environmental Health Network
Cara Nelson, College of Forest Resources, University of Washington
Joshua O'Brien, Ecology and Evolution graduate program, University of
....California, Davis
Mary O'Brien, Science and Environmental Health Network
Makoto Omori, Makoto Omori, Akajima Marine Science Laboratory, Japan
Stephen Packard, National Audubon Society
Vivian Parker, Resource Policy Analyst, California Indian
....Basketweavers Association
Carolyn Raffensperger, Science and Environmental Health Network
Ted Schettler, Science and Environmental Health Network
Boyce Thorne-Miller, Ocean Advocates, Maryland
Martin Willison, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia