Why ecocentrism is the key pathway to sustainability

GR: Attention Biophiliacs (lovers of animals and plants). Here’s an article from the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and Biosphere (MAHB) that deals with the central ideas of nature conservation. The authors argue that the common term ‘biocentrism’ implies a limited view focused on living things alone. They explain that the term ‘ecocentrism’ takes a broader view that includes the non-living elements of the Earth systems, the atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere. The argument make sense and adds depth to the fact that homocentrism has failed to develop a sustainable role for humans within nature.

We can expect that acceptance of ecocentrism by our strongly homocentric species will be slow. However, the core concept is rational and merits support. Please consider signing the Ecocentrism Statement. As with any such central idea, ecocentrism spurs a plethora of questions and extensions such as the problems with pro-growth economies.

I’ve been pronouncing MAHB as mob. Is that wrong?

“The Earth’s biodiversity and ecological integrity are being lost at an ever-increasing rate due to human impacts. The traditional, post-enlightenment Western anthropocentric worldview has failed to halt this (and is almost certainly responsible for it). Changing our worldview to ecocentrism however offers hope for solving the environmental crisis.

What is ecocentrism?

“Ecocentrism finds inherent (intrinsic) value in all of nature. It takes a much wider view of the world than does anthropocentrism, which sees individual humans and the human species as more valuable than all other organisms. Ecocentrism is the broadest of worldviews, but there are related worldviews. Ecocentrism goes beyond biocentrism (ethics that sees inherent value to all living things) by including environmental systems as wholes, and their abiotic aspects. It also goes beyond zoocentrism (seeing value in animals) on account of explicitly including flora and the ecological contexts for organisms. Ecocentrism is thus the umbrella that includes biocentrism and zoocentrism, because all three of these worldviews value the nonhuman, with ecocentrism having the widest vision. Given that life relies on geological processes and geomorphology to sustain it, and that ‘geodiversity’ also has intrinsic value, the broader term ‘ecocentrism’ seems most appropriate.

Historical roots of ecocentrism

“Ecocentrism as a worldview has been with humanity since we evolved. Many indigenous cultures around the world speak of lore and (in Australia) ‘law’ that reflects an ecocentric view of the world. Ecologist Aldo Leopold in Sand County Almanac wrote the classic evocation of ecocentrism in ‘The Land Ethic’, which expanded the ‘community’ to include animals, plants and the land itself. Philosopher Arne Naess in 1973 coined the term ‘deep ecology’ for similar sentiments, later articulating the notion in Principle 1 of the Deep Ecology Platform.” –Paul Cryer, Helen Kopnina, John J. Piccolo, Bron Taylor, and Haydn Washington (Why ecocentrism is the key pathway to sustainability | MAHB)

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