Richard White The Organic Machine Summary

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1. “The Organic Machine”
Richard White’s The Organic Machine offers the perspective that humans are not impeding on or destroying nature, but are working in tandem with nature. White uses the argument of the Colombia River as an “organic machine” designed by nature because it can create energy, support labor, and it can additionally serve as a resource for humans. Humans should look to understand and incorporate the power and capability of the river and nature into their work as labor can be used as a force to unite humans and nature. By utilizing the stories of the Indians and settlers along the Columbia River, we are able to see how nature and humans are able to work together to benefit each other. White understands that some people may argue that we are destroying or “raping” nature through development and urbanization. However, White does not believe this; he believes as long as humans work with nature, instead of against forces of nature, to fulfill both their purpose and the purpose of nature, in this case, the flow of the river, both humans and nature can prosper together. White uses the example of humans embracing natural water flow fluctuations in the Columbia River rather than setting up storage tanks to manually control the river. This example shows how humans can utilize the natural work and energy of the river and nature to reach common goals. The Colombia River is not only a creation of nature but also a creation of humans. Both nature and humans have put

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