Green Philosophies in the Face of Climate Change
Keywords:deep ecology, ecocentric, forest ethics, philosophy, public opinion, stewardship
Societal attitudes to environmental management are likely to be influenced by the current debates on climate change. Twenty years ago the environmental author, Bill McKibben, first released The End of Nature, arguing that anthropogenic climate change had destroyed the idea of an independent natural world. The ramifications of this idea have been slow to seep into the public consciousness, but there are signs now that the thought of the ending of nature is influencing public attitudes in ways that are deeply inimical to responsible forest management, shifting perceptions towards ecocentrism and reducing the legitimacy of foresters as responsible stewards of forested lands.
Climate change presents challenges to forest managers both in a biophysical sense and in the way that it will influence their public support. A shift in societal attitudes towards ecocentric philosophies will restrict forest managers’ options in dealing with climate change; however, this shift cannot be countered by scientific research or appeals to reason as ecocentric feelings are based on “feelings.” Rather, managers need to understand that changing people’s feelings will hinge on changing the way they perceive nature and their views of foresters’ ability to manage. Forest managers must promote the concept of humans as responsible stewards of nature. This is not a new idea but, in breaking the dichotomy of people and nature, climate change offers foresters a new opportunity to present their case.
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