Promoting Ecocentric Over Anthropocentric Values In A Built Environment Through Environmental Education

Project and Seminar Material for Environmental Science

Promoting Ecocentric Over Anthropocentric Values In A Built Environment Through Environmental Education


Abstract


Today, the mechanized man is capable of defacing the Sun despite its hotness, was it close and within man’s reach; just to satisfy his quest for pleasurable comfort even to the detriment of his neighbour. Man on a daily basis engages in anthropogenic activities that he thinks good enough to enhance order in the social environment without pausing to think for a second the high level of disorder these activities cause in the natural environment. As long as man regards himself utterly superior than all other components of the natural environment, he may never see reasons to protect or preserve the same environment.

There is need for adequate and continual education on environmental ethics promoting ecocentric over anthropocentric activities- an environmentally responsible culture showing a built world that reflects and projects care and respect toward nature in ensuring sustainability. Just like Robert Lynd said, there is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before. The United Nations in order to enhance this, set aside January 26 every year to commemorate the World Environmental Education Day (WEED) apart from other Nature Day celebrations.

The realization of a deeper ecocentric relationship with nature relies on the achievement of a deeper relationship with our own built environment. A strong synergy between all stakeholders and professionals through environmental education proves to be a solid foundation to achieving ecocentric values in a built environment.

Keywords: mechanized man, anthropogenic, ecocentric, sustainability, stakeholders, synergy.


Chapter One


1.0 Introduction

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. There is no other way to survive the impact of mechanized man” – Aldo Leopold

The term ‘anthropocentric’ was first coined in the 1860s, amidst the controversy over Darwin’s theory of evolution, to represent the idea that humans are the centre of the universe (Campbell, 1983). Anthropocentrism considers humans to be the most important life form, and other forms of life to be important only to the extent that they affect humans or can be useful to humans.

However ‘ecocentric’ comes from the term first coined ‘biocentric’ in 1913 by an American biochemist, Lawrence Henderson, to represent the idea that the universe is the originator of life. It asserts that all components of the environment have intrinsic values.

Environmental ethics are philosophies that consider the moral relationship of humans to the environment, and also the value and moral status of the environment and its non-human components. It takes into consideration, obligations humans have concerning the environment.

In an anthropocentric ethic, nature has moral consideration because degrading or preserving nature can in turn harm or benefit humans whereas in an ecocentric ethic, nature has moral consideration because it has intrinsic value, value aside from its usefulness to humans. Take for example cutting down rain forests, whilst the anthropocentric ethic considers it wrong to cut down the rainforests because they contain potential cures for human diseases, the ecocentric ethic would consider it wrong because it would cause the extinction of many plant and animal species.

There is as yet no ethic dealing with man’s relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it. The extension of ethics to this third element in human environment is an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity. (Leopold, 1949)

Environmental crises, such as indiscriminate waste disposal, black soot, global warming, water pollution, species extinction and wild land destruction, are some of the most important problems currently facing our society. How we deal with these problems largely depends on how we perceive our relationship with the land. Do we view nature as property for us to use however we wish for our own benefit, or does nature have intrinsic value, value aside from its usefulness to humans? You should have an ecocentric based answer…

Our society would be safe and healthy if every individual realises he is a stakeholder of the environment and must be active in the decision making that protects his environment. This can be possible with certain tools highlighted in this paper especiallly continual awareness educating the people that “Environmental Education (EE) is a prerequisite for living” – Wonne Afronelly.


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