Individual Paper: Degrowth in the age of humans: indigenous perspectives
Recently, in 2017, a perfect storm of life-threatening environmental disasters including extreme hurricanes, catastrophic floods and severe drought, ravaged our planetary system, impacting millions word-wide. These deadly natural disasters reflect the failure of the United Nations over the past 45 years to engage the global community in promoting a sustainable world; economic concerns for material progress have instead eclipsed human ethical concern for the environment.
The current unfolding discourse indicates that humans have entered into the Anthropocene－the age of man. Humanity has become a dominant geological force in shaping and destabilizing everything in our planetary system. Great minds such as Aldo Leopold and Albert Schweitzer exhorted us over a century ago that the way to circumvent these human-nature destabilizing effects is to reexamine our relationship with nature in attunement with the degrowth principle based on love, respect, and reverence for life ethics. But how can this be achieved in a real world system? A viable response will be outlined in the present work.
The basic argument is that the way forward to establish an intrinsic environmental valuation system based on the theory of value is to fully capture the non-market values of the natural system such as spiritual value and sense-of-place value which are equally important in contributing significantly to human social welfare and happiness. How these values are associated with human value orientations and pro-environmental behaviours will then be explained.
The above theoretical investigation will be reinforced using empirical evidence gathered from extensive field research conducted with more than 400 indigenous people in the Borneo tropical rainforest state of Sarawak in Malaysia. The research revealed that there is a strong positive relationship between environmental ethics, environmental sustainability, social wellbeing and happiness.
The present analysis, theoretically argued and empirically substantiated, has the impact of invoking individual fundamental beliefs about nature, moral attitudes and pro-environmental behaviours. It is concluded that the current anthropogenic destruction of our natural world is fundamentally caused by humans, and so it is humans themselves who can, by their moral extension to nature, mitigate the situation.
Start time: 11:15
Track: Degrowth: Culture, Power and Change