here's a brief illustration of what i mean on environment: biosphere 2 (earth was supposed to be biosphere 1). the idea was to create a completely enclosed ecosystem, a sort of model for the way they thought about the earth, or perhaps the way they thought about various local ecosystems: as essentially isolated, balanced, stable systems. they tried to simulate the balance and stability supposedly displayed by nature before man's depredations. not to put too fine a point on it, the thing was a miserable failure by that standard: they actually never effectively sealed it: the inside was continually leaking out and the outside in. to the extent the could seal it, it started to die and became non-viable. e.g. all the pollinating insects died, which would have compromised the whole thing if they hadn't started importing stuff. they couldn't achieve a stable oxygen level, even with all their plants. etc. eventually they just gave up, and the thing came to be regarded as a boondoggle. in short, unsustainable.
but the experiment could have been regarded as a success in this sense: it disconfirmed (not decisively of course) the picture of what an ecosystem is and what makes it workable with which they started. the earth itself even as a whole is not an integral self-contained system. start, um, with the source of light (including the sudden blast of solar flares etc), or the role of meteor impacts on species and evolution. but there is certainly no ecosystem on earth that's not in constant interchange with those surrounding it. even island ecosystems do not maintain precisely the same species etc through long periods of time, but which i mean hundreds or thousands, not millions of years. we have this fantasy of nature as a stable underlying reality which we are disturbing; this is false both about those systems and about us.
the environmental movement still has this idea of nature as wise (and it is a wisdom to which we must return). it's like a fantasy mother, lovely and harmonious; we are her straying children, though through "sustainability," for example, we could simulate in ourselves her ideal condition. whatever this may be, it is not an empirical result; actually it's almost bizarre in its detachment from our real experience or natural history. no doubt nature does display various spatially and temporally limited relative balances, or is relatively stable in some places over significant stretches of time. the mutual interdependent adaptation of creatures is astonishing. right. but all of that is in the context of an extremely volatile, radically unstable system constantly subject to change from within and without, and exquisite adaptations lead to sudden mutual extinctions because of weather, or warming or cooling, or microbes suddenly wafting in from south america, or strange ducks crossing the pacific. we are such ducks.