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Human beings are faced with a number of complex issues with regards to their relationship and conduct with their natural environment and other life forms. Ecological scholars have come up with different schools of thoughts that stipulate how human beings interact with their surrounding environment and other life forms. This article seeks to explore on two schools of thought Biocentric and Deep ecology/ecocentric in the quest to explain how human beings attend to environmental issues.
Newman (2011) defines biocentrism school of thought as an ecological approach that acknowledges the inherent intrinsic value of all individual life forms. This approach emphasizes on the need to acknowledge that all living things are dependant on each other in their respective ecosystems. In this school of though, non human life forms and the environment are considered significant despite their relevance to human beings.
Therefore, every life form is considered equally important as it is denoted with an intrinsic value. In this school of though, human beings are not considered superior but rather equal to other life forms such as plants and animals. This implies that all life forms should be accorded equal considerations and respect regardless of their contribution or value to human beings. This approach deals with environmental issues by targeting the needs of individual organisms rather than communities (Newman, 2011).
This approach has been recommended by ecologists towards conservation of our environment. However, the approach has also been faced with an equal share of criticism. Critics to this school of though argue that this approach is individualistic in the sense that it seeks to highlight the plight of individual organism rather that a whole ecosystem or community. The approach has also been criticized for accepting that it is rational to affect other life forms for the interest of man as long as the measures taken are in accordance with the call to respect earth and its resources (Newman, 2011).
Unlike biocentric, ecocentric school of thought acknowledges the inherent intrinsic value of ecosystems, communities and species rather than individuals. Ecocentrism appreciates the value of the natural resources beyond human beings perception or use for them. In this school of though, the earth is far more important than human beings and thus superior. Therefore, human beings form a small part of the rather complex community whose needs must be met. And thus, the approach is more nature centered than human centered. This school of thought stems from the belief that all life forms whether human or nonhuman constitute particles that make up a complex system that is referred to as the ecosystem (Mulvaney, 2011).
This approach highlights the ecological plight of all organisms as part of a complex system that is dependant on all the human and non human life forms. Therefore, ecologists using this approach to solve environmental issues are more concerned about how the issue affects a given community rather than an individual and thus, they device ecological strategies that benefit the entire community rather than a specific individual (Mulvaney, 2011).
Most ecologists advocate for ecocentic school of thought because this approach is concerned with the protection of the entire ecosystem. Critics to this approach assert that, given the definitions to ecocetrism concepts such as species, communities and ecosystems, it is difficult to ascertain if such concepts are nature based or human imposed. Further, critics argue that the fact that species exist does not justify that they have values that ought to be protected therefore, questioning the rational for conserving an entire species. Critics also argue that, dwelling on species and ecosystems compromises on the existence of individuals who are supposed to make up the ecosystem or community (Mulvaney, 2011).