Author: Ian Whyte, Ottawa.
My vision is of an ECOCENTRIC WORLD in which the Earth and Her processes have been largely released from human pressure and She has rebounded and is now flourishing. There are an appropriate number of humans living in harmony with, and as part of, the rest of the natural world in a happy, healthy, peaceful and sustainable way.
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IN MORE DETAIL
My parameters for an ecocentric world would lead to and contain a vision, and how it would be to live in it with them (with some help from Doug Woodard, years ago).
An ECOCENTRIC WORLDVIEW shifts the value-focus from humanity to the enveloping Ecosphere – that web of organic/inorganic/symbiotic structures and processes that constitute Planet Earth. It realizes Earth is the all important entity, and all else is secondary, derivatives of the primary entity and thus the health of Earth is primary, the health of all else depends on Earth’s health. What’s good for Earth is good for us as a whole, what’s bad for Earth is bad for us. Currently the ability of Earth to function naturally is severely impaired by human numbers and activities. Perhaps, when this is fully understood, man could function as a normal, healthy unit of the ecosphere, but so far this has not occurred. This includes a full recognition of the intrinsic rights, on a systemic basis, of the rest of nature.
ROUGH PARAMETERS OF AN ECOCENTRIC HUMAN SOCIETY
The free will of all the natural world will be revived and thriving, with death no longer looming large over the land. Beauty will be recognized as a valid standard of evaluation. Humans activities will come mainly from the qualities of being human (i.e. creativity, communication, coordination, appreciation, and spiritual and intellectual development) (Nickerson). Actions which do no harm would be favoured, as would actions which are reversible and allow options to be retained.
An Ecocentric society will have a human population stabilized at a much lower level. These humans will be living sustainably, with the exclusively human part amounting to ~10% of the landscape with fully sustainable buffers leading to the exclusively wild landscape of at least 50 to 60% of the Earth’s area both on land and sea. Consumption would be vastly smaller, due to the smaller population (although depending on P, C can vary), the realization of the necessity for limits and the adoption of optimal thinking. Governance will be vastly different, perhaps based on the republican model.
The unfortunate need for reparations (due to eons of misuse) to the Earth would be recognized; for instance, the level of CO2 and its equivalents would have been reduced to less than 325 ppm. No longer would toxics be used or created and poisonous materials would be left in the ground (Rowe). Economic externalities would be eliminated and no pollutants would be released, other than those associated with and in the amounts created by the ordinary life processes of any animal. The idea of least discharge would guide and give direction to human production. The concepts of both “sinks” and “living off of Earth’s interest” would be recognized as invalid beyond the levels used by the rest of nature. Various important principles would be recognized, understood and respected such as: the precautionary principle; the weight of evidence principle and; the reverse onus principle. The effects of incrementalism and of a creeping baseline would be understood and avoided. The 3 Rs, perhaps expanded (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, Regionalise) would be fully understood and implemented including full product life cycle responsibility, both by producer and user.
MY PERSONAL MOTIVATIONS TO FOLLOW AN ECOCENTRIC PATH
Many times Earth has spoken to me in silent but powerful ways. Iris pond, Firefly night, Bindweed meadow and Orchid hill come immediately to mind; all were places of great beauty, power and much more. Continuing observation, when contrasted with these memories, constantly remind me that the places I love and value are disappearing and the ones left are diminished and beleaguered. They inspire in me a passion and a determination to do what I can to protect Earth.
My personal philosophy follows the tenets of both ecocentrism and Deep Ecology which, when combined with much experience of the natural world, have led me to fully value the Earth and Her life and systems as subjects as opposed to an objects. While I hold none of the religious beliefs expressed in it, the phrase “It’s a sin to destroy god’s creations” finds a resonance in me.
An ecocentric worldview offers a systemic solution to Earth’s current problems: climate, soil, water, oceans, loss of animate life, the evil of mass extinction, the loss of biodiversity and overpopulation. The brief vision and parameters above give me guidance in making life’s decisions.