A few weeks ago Guardian journalist and author George Monbiot made an interesting suggestion to change the way we talk about the living world. He proposes to replace our current terms, which reflect antropocentrism, economism and a techno-scientific approach to environmental harms, with new terms that he hopes will 'engage people, reveal rather than disguise realities, and honour what we seek to protect'. The old terms pertain to a worldviews according to which humans can exploit nature for their own (economic) gain and fix resulting environmental damage and destruction by, for example, attaching economic value to natural resources so as to stimulate their wise use by producers and consumers. The paradigm of economic growth remains unchallenged, which means that the reality of the planetary boundaries is ignored. Monbiot's new terms reveal a worldview according to which humans are part of the natural world and they point to humanity's agency and responsibility for environmental damage and destruction. The term 'living planet' says it all: the natural world is alive with sentient beings and our human duty of care extends to these them.
This ecocentric worldview is the common denominator of the work of the experts of the UN Harmony with Nature-initiative. The movement to recognize Nature's rights comes from a similar place. In both the English and Dutch interview section, you can read about the work of Rights of Nature pioneer Cormac Cullinan and why he thinks the 'old terms' solutions of the Paris Climate agreement are missing the point. It makes me wonder how the COP 24-negotiations would look like if they adopted Monbiot's terms and the worldview embedded in them...
Meanwhile, I made up my mind to change the language on this website following Monbiot's proposal, because they reflect my own worldview and the idealism which guides my work. Words do matter and so does taking a stand.
Tue, 20 November