Selling your Mother…

The title of this  post comes from  a quote in a mini-thesis by  Rafael M Santos (2011) “Ethical  Responsibilities and the Environment’  in  which he notes the Australian Aboriginal  response to  the commodification of land and animals as  “much like putting a price on  your own mother” .

In late February/March of 2017  the Vatican pulled together a Working Group  to  look  at  the current state of the world in  relation to  species extinction and global  warming.

As the Vatican notes; The subject of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ (biodiversity especially its Chapter 2), climate change, is estimated in the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to be on a course to destroy 20-40% of all biodiversity on Earth by the end of this century regardless of any other factors, but of course interacting with them. The living fabric of the world, which we are enjoyed in Genesis, Chapter II to protect, is slipping through our fingers without our showing much sign of caring.

Predictably the Vatican discourse continues along a familiar theme ,  how man  should be the “protector’  of all living things  for the purpose of  their usage by  man. As always,  it is our ‘god given  right’  to  subjugate and destroy the other species on  this planet as we see fit. But even the working group  has to  admit;  such  a  philosophy is rapidly leading humans,  as well as the other species on  this planet,  to  extinction.

To  its credit however, the working group has however , finally made the connection between global  warming and  biodiversity and the horrendous impacts  both  outcomes will  have for both humanity and the planet.

Our desire for enhanced consumption grows more rapidly than our population, and Earth cannot sustain it. Nothing less than a reordering of our priorities based on a moral revolution can succeed in maintaining the world in such a way as to resemble the conditions we have enjoyed here.

Somehow we are supposed to believe that  we are  ‘superior  beings’  to all  other species on  this planet;  our ‘intelligence’  and  problem  solving skills are apparently gifts from one or other  god,  and thus proclaim  our right to  sovereignty over ‘nature”. The reality is that  as a species we have demonstrated, over and over,  that  we are extremely limited in  our  selective ‘intelligence’  and an understanding of what  matters, and our capacity to  behave ‘rationally’. Our capacity for self-delusion is enormous.

Our species’   intellectual reasoning is  a hardwired  self-fulfilling congratulatory process that  determines its successes  using its own definition of what  ‘success’ is.   Such  a process is clearly designed to  allow us to  continue to  pat  ourselves on  the back  with  our species’  ‘progress’ and continue to collectively do  what  we have been doing to  this planet  for the past few thousand years ,  while the planet heads ever closer to  massive extinction.

There is however a kind of blind logic to  why  we are progressively destroying the planet  on  which  we stand: an internal circuitous set of arguments that permit all of us to legitimise the insanity of our actions.

As Jackson (2017) notes ‘The tendency to economic growth according to Schnaiberg (1980) is due in part to the competitive character of capitalism, such that corporations and entrepreneurs must continually expand their operations and their profits lest they be swamped by other competitors. On the other hand there is also growth logic within the sphere of the state, as state agencies and officials prefer growth over stagnation in order to ensure tax revenues-the essential fiscal basis of the state  (Redclift and Woodgate 2010). Neither of these two  drivers (corporate competitiveness, and the state’s need for growth, are in  any way  related to  necessity or human  survivability;  they  are essentially “nice to haves’  from a human perspective. We are in  fact  driving the planet  rapidly to  extinction for shiny little baubles of no  value.

What is desperately and urgently needed then,  is the incorporation of what  Jackson  (2017) refers to  as the Biocentrism ethic into  everything we as humans do..
Biocentrism is a life centered attitude towards biological diversity of the environment. The life centered theory posits that all forms of life have an inherent right to exist. It considers nature and all forms of life special in itself. Nature has intrinsic value or inherent worth apart from human appropriation. Biocentrism hence advocates for the preservation of the environment and all life forms free from human intervention. 

Do  we have the collective wisdom as a  species to  stop  destroying this planet, to  understand how our commodification of the world we live in is destroying all  of us, to  begin  to  undo  the  incredible destruction we have wrought on  our fellow species in  such  a short space of time ,  and most fundamentally, to begin  to  respect  all  other creatures as our equals?


What Is Animal Liberation? Philosopher Peter Singer’s Groundbreaking Work Turns 40

Biocentrism / Robert Lanza’s Theory of Everything

Global Footprint Network


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