By Ian Whyte, CACOR member
Ecocentrism recognizes that the Ecosphere, rather than organisms, is the source of life, of creativity, of evolutionary design, and of all meaning. It recognizes that the Ecosphere is the matrix which birthed all life, including humans, and which remains life’s sole support and source of sustenance. It is a world view in which the Earth and Her vitality, health and needs are the primary consideration and in which, while important to us, human concerns are secondary, and must be realized only within the limits imposed by the primary consideration. Thus, when there is a clash between the health of the Earth and human needs or wants, the human ought to give way. “Social justice issues, however important, cannot be resolved unless the hemorrhaging of ecosystems is stopped by putting an end to homocentric philosophies and activities.” (Manifesto (1)). There is no social justice on a dead Earth. When a chance arises, choices should be made that minimize human suffering but this is a distinctly secondary priority. (The 8 points of Deep Ecology(2) and the Manifesto for Earth (Go now, and check them out!) provide philosophical underpinnings and guides to action in this area. )
“Human value systems have traditionally been inward-looking, preoccupied with the immediate concerns of the individual, and by extension, of society and culture. Ecocentric valuation invites a broader, outward-looking viewpoint.” (Manifesto)
“The ecocentric ethic provides a new basis from which to examine the questions of how we should value the natural Earth and its systems and of how people should live.” (Manifesto) Both the 8 Points and the Manifesto enjoin those who subscribe to them to take action. Here, talk without action equals silence. And silence with knowledge equals complicity. Some are guilty but all are responsible and, unfortunately, when you know about the extent of the calamity, if you do nothing, you move from the responsible to the guilty. So, action is necessary!
Human actions have, and still are, smashing the Earth’s geophysical self, ecosystems and life. We need to be clear: the Earth’s devastation is 100% human caused. Quite literally, there are at least an order of magnitude too many of us consuming at least an order of magnitude too much. With awareness that the Earth’s problems are all human caused comes the realization that the solutions depend on alterations in human behaviour.
The problem’s basis is the anthropocentric, humanist paradigm held by most humans. This malevolent paradigm leads directly to the many symptoms we’ve come to dread: excessive population, excessive consumption, climate change, ocean dead spots, life’s diminishment, biodiversity loss, soil depletion, extinctions and on and on. It’s my opinion that at least two paths need to be followed toward the solutions. The paradigm needs to be changed as no long term solutions are possible without its change. In parallel, the worst of the symptoms need addressing, urgently.
Here, I don’t intend to discuss paradigm change. It has been well covered elsewhere, for instance by The Manifesto For Earth, ecospherics.net, ecocentricalliance.org and Patrick Curry’s Ecological Ethics. However, for life to continue on Earth, paradigm change is essential and a pre-requisite.
ADDRESSING SYMPTOMS, IN GENERAL
For many years those concerned with the fate of life on Earth have been working to protect it and moderate or reverse the losses. While at times the human juggernaut’s destruction may have been slightly slowed, the resistance has lost, utterly. There is no point in continuing in the futile path we have been following. Being nice, polite, rational, positive, hopeful, politically correct, and passive has not worked.
ADDRESSING SYMPTOMS, IN PARTICULAR POPULATION & CONSUMPTION: EVIL TWINS SMASHING THE EARTH
In 2017, humans are increasing their infestation of the Earth at the rate of 90,000,000 a year, or ~1,000,000,000 in ~11 years. This when Earth’s life is already crashing from the effects of too many people. Humans are, in fact, smashing the Earth. No one, except those wedded to weird ideological ideas, can think this is anything but disastrous for the Earth, and therefore, importantly (for us), for humanity itself.
From an ecocentric point of view, there are too many people. Period. For a generation or two, there has been awareness of this and much vacuous talk about how to reduce population, to be accomplished, however, without dis-comforting anyone. It is obvious that this mealy-mouthed (or timid, or cowardly) approach does not work, and in fact is causing a life-destroying catastrophe. Collectively, the ‘human right’ to bear children at will is ruinous to life on Earth, which is rapidly diminishing at increasing rates. It is worse than a zero-sum game, as a shrinking Earth is being divided among ever more people. This ‘right’ must be cancelled, and one child per woman allowed (and, to prevent abuse, men may father only one). Tough, but obviously necessary.
The current abrupt climate change is caused by excessive CO2 (and CO2 equivalents), a toxic effluent, being dumped in the atmosphere by industrial human activity. Ecocentricly, this is contributing to life’s impoverishment, and thus is not acceptable. For climate to be stabilized, carbon in the atmosphere must be reduced. All recreational and other non-essential use of carbon should be discontinued immediately, both as fuel and as products. The ‘essential’ should follow quickly.
All studies show that life is rapidly diminishing. The WWF/London Zoo Living Planet Report 2016 (3) (it’d be more accurately be titled Dying Planet Report) shows – 60% from 1970 (not the start of the decline) to 2016 and forecasts – 67% by 2020. This is in total numbers, not species. The size of the losses indicate that biodiversity is crashing. There are many reasons for this. Habitat loss, toxins, agricultural practices, hunting, buildings, and much more; all the attributes of modern civilization are killing the Earth. Ecocentricly, all this must change: habitat must be returned, toxics forbidden, agriculture reformed, etc. In fact, it will be a total make over.
There are many more problems, all of which have ecocentric solutions. In all cases, due to humanity’s outstanding ability to procrastinate, the time available for change to be successful is very limited. Also, since all is interconnected, they need to all proceed more or less at once. Likely there is easy stuff with which we could start, but really, it must not stop there. Once we’ve started hopefully the momentum, and the understanding of the need, for change will build.
Meantime, I ask just what are you doing to stem and/or reverse the destruction of the Earth? Leave a comment!
(1) Manifesto for Earth: http://ecospherics.net/
(2) 8 Points of Deep Ecology: http://www.ecospherics.net/pages/RoDeepEcolPlat.html