Nature is reacting to the activities of modem society in unique and largely unexpected ways. The spread of acidified rain to every continent, a worldwide decline of forested lands, and the ubiquitous presence of persistent organic pollutants due to industrial experiments in biochemistry suggest that the contemporary nature-society relation includes phenomena unlike any that were previously known in human, or geological, history. These reactions are surprising since human impacts on nature have traditionally been ascribed a minor role in determining the course of ecological change. While humanity has long discarded its wastes in nature, the “predominant view in the natural sciences was that life on Earth is primarily passive, responding to nonliving forces like volcanic eruptions, severe storms, droughts, and even drifting continents” (Schneider, 1990: 6).