The age of the ecocentrist is here.
If we want economic growth and population growth it has to be sustainable.
And that means considering the intrinsic value of everything, not just human interests.
But what are ecocentric values and what is an ecocentrist, exactly?
Let's take a look at that in detail.
What Is Ecocentrism?
An ecocentrist is someone that sees inherent value in all ecological systems. It's a moral code of sorts that is underpinned by an environmental ethic as opposed to a pure focus on the needs of humans.
It's the opposite of “anthropocentrism” which is less concerned with the environmental crisis around us and is focused solely on human welfare even at the cost of the ecology of the planet.
It is a broader philosophy than either biocentrism (where all living beings are considered to have value) and zoocentrism (which values animal rights overall).
Many mainstream environmental organizations have embraced ecocentrism in their quest to reduce human consumption and step up environmental protection.
The original theory of ecocentrism as a formal discipline came from Aldo Leopold, the American author of A Sand County Almanac.
This is a book often said to be the precursor of the concept of Gaia Theory and the idea that everything in the ecosystem is connected to everything else and that the Earth might be seen as a single organism as well as a collection of living and non-living parts.
Human Beings, Environmental Ethics, And The Natural World
This environmental philosophy has been with humanity as long as we've had the ability to articulate an environmental concern.
Arne Naess said in 1973, “The well-being of non-human life on Earth has value in itself. This value is independent of any instrumental usefulness for limited human purposes.”
He also coined the term “deep ecology” to describe the ecocentrist's view of connectedness between everything.
This is the heart of ecocentrist thought – it is more than biodiversity conservation and understands that environmental destruction is the opposite of sustainable development and that all of the environment matters.
The Impact Of Ecocentrism On Human Health
Human values are changing and if there's one thing that recent years have seen the emergence of its plenty of environmental movements.
The human species is coming to terms with the impact that its actions are having on the planet and to some extent, on our own health.
When we poison groundwater supplies, for example, for industrial use – in the long run we fail to satisfy human needs and no matter what the natural resources an area offers, without drinking water it becomes uninhabitable.
In their environmental sociology paper, “How Ecocentrism and Anthropocentrism Influence Human–Environment Relationships in a Kenyan Biodiversity Hotspot.” Rulke et al. found that biodiversity protection and ecosystem services were among the key priorities among those that live and work on the land.
There was a strong belief among the respondents that life processes were not human-centered and that other beings and other species mattered too as well as the environment itself.
It seems obvious to those people that human health depends on the quality of their overall environment. This new paradigm may help to drive ecocentrism to the mainstream over time as health seems to matter more to many of us than climate change.
Final Thoughts On Ecocentrism
Ecocentrism is a system of self-interest but one which places other living beings and non-living things on the same pedestal as we put ourselves.
By protecting our environment we protect ourselves and the world around us. This should be the driving force of future development if we want our species to survive and thrive in the long term.