Human being has become that force of the ecosystem which is continuously shaping the earth. Human action has transformed between one third and half of the earth’s surface; the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has enhanced by almost 30 percent since the onset of the industrial revolution. Humankind fixes more atmospheric nitrogen than all natural terrestrial sources considered. They use more than half of all available surface freshwater; and about one-quarter of Earth’s bird species have been forced to extinction. Simultaneously they are making growing efforts to reverse and to change the course of these trends. It had become obvious that human beings are capable of both creating, and solving all kinds of environmental problems.
But this outbreak of epidemics like COVID-19 reveals humans are nowhere near as special as we like to think. The emergence of COVID-19 has challenged the human-centered relationship between humans and nature. From the prehistoric hunting-gathering society to diverse modern society, in this evolution, somewhere human beings reduced all other species to unemotional machines. Now, it is the time when we must try to understand and appreciate the limitations of the human being as a part of the ecosystem.
In 1973, a Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess introduced us with the term “deep ecology” which claims that all living creatures have same right to live and flourish and human being is just as important as an insect in this ecosystem. As part of the ecosystem, humans must learn to live within nature, according to nature’s laws, and learn to accept our role as one among many.
Deep ecology and our life today
Deep ecology is an emerging philosophical concept of ecology, which focuses on our moral obligation to protect the environment. It is the radical idea that all life has the right to exist, that no one species is more important than another. This is an ecocentrism philosophy and entirely rejects anthropocentrism. Deep ecology has eight principles. Below we list the concepts and some important details to understand how they are relevant to our life in quarantine.
- Human and nonhuman life on Earth has a value independent of its usefulness to humans: This world is a wonderful place, and humans often are awed by the wonders of the animals. But there is an underlying aspect, we as humans, vehemently disregard that we are just another species of animals. Humans decide for everything in this world, where it should have been a symbiotic correspondence as every being on earth is entitled to live. Since the beginning of the quarantine period, we have seen that the dolphins have come back in the canals of Italy, endangered sea turtles have laid eggs on beaches in Brazil and India. Human activity destroyed their habitats as they are not useful to humans. The COVID-19 makes us understand that these ‘useless’ nonhuman creatures have similar importance to maintain ecological balance.
- Biodiversity contributes to this value: From an individual standpoint, deep ecology may seem a bit pessimistic, but most of the discourse regarding this particular philosophy is undeniable. Imagine a world with increasingly low biodiversity, will that be an example of sustainable ecology? This kind of power exhibition of the human population has resulted in a decrease in biodiversity. Land use and land cover changes are responsible for habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation which in turn affect biodiversity in any region. Besides, the introduction of exotic species and genetically modified organisms, pollution, and overexploitation of resources are some major human-induced threats to biodiversity. The COVID-19 has reduced the activity of the human population and helped to recover the biodiversity on the earth.
- Humans have no right to reduce this biodiversity except to satisfy vital human needs: The basic idea of deep ecology is about considering human as just another species, how the pride of intelligence has brought up a war which is likely never to end. However, the so-called practicality of humans to be a doctrine of everything on earth is vehemently reducing biodiversity. There is no doubt the humans have destroyed the weather pattern as well as the biodiversity to such an extent that it has become irreversible. Quite a varied species had become extinct due to poaching, also with the name of sustainable hunting humans ethically hunt animals.
- A substantial percentage of the human populationmust be eliminated: The deep ecologist thinks that a substantial percentage of the human population must be eliminated to establish the balance of the environment. However, it is unethical to kill humans; as a result, they have become the highest populated species that adversely affect the ecology. There are some alternative ways to check the human population. These are war, epidemics like COVID-19, famines and other natural calamities that have eliminated millions of life till date.
- Humans interfere with the world too much already, and this activity is worsening: From the early age of civilization, humans had the impulse to create things to lower the proximity of labour. The striking of stones gave them fire to burn and round shaped stones formed the first transport. Since then humans have never stopped for a moment to make things easy for their own cause. It was pretty much confined to the discoveries until humans vehemently started to interfere with the world so much that they turned themselves into a paradox. During this time of COVID-19 pandemic, the violence of human interference is becoming more prominent. Be the virus dispersed from the wet market of Wuhan, or from some institute of virology, both are the result of too much power exhibition upon other species. The constant need for change in the lifestyle to make it easier is nothing but a better way to sugar-coat the brutality in the name of development. For the record, there is one only thing humans are good at, and that is interfering. And by doing that they confirm how wonderful that world would have been without them.
- A new political and economic model must be devised to replace that of present governments: The human race does need a government completely designed in a new pattern. Humans often talk about the urgent need to protect the plant, but then it is wrong. The plant doesn’t need our protection; the world has sustained without humans; humans need to defend their home. Environment-friendly governance is highly required to bring back the ecological balance. Sound environmental policies have to be formed to reduce the human impact on the environment. Besides, new economic models have to be developed to secure human livelihoods.
- Individuals must be content with the situation they are in instead of striving for a higher standard of living: The concept of self-awareness has projected in such a manner that man has become selfish. The very attitude of overconsumption has increased the global race. Thus, humans became very derogatory to their norms. This excessive consumption of wealth is drying the resources gradually which in turn destroys the balance of the ecosystem.
- Deep ecologists have an obligation to implement the above: Deep ecologists always want to establish the right of nonhuman life to preserve the biodiversity of any region. Deep ecologists organize workshops to grow ecological awareness among the human population, to make them environment friendly and to heal our relationship with the earth
Time to rethink…
It is high time we understood that all other ecosystem beings are not meant for human ends. It is ethically wrong and the source of environmental crises. Human needs are unlimited but the planet has limited capacity to meet them. In both the short and long term, the benefits of anthropocentric pressure to satisfy human needs are much lower than the potential costs to society. Ultimately, lost ecological infrastructure and the decline of natural capital, including human health, causes a decline in inclusive wealth. Before the impact becomes more negative we should rethink the relationship between humans and nature keeping deep ecology in the backdrop.
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