Berries in Baskets versus Apples in Crates: Arguing for Ecocentrism in a Post-COVID World
The global outbreak of COVID-19 has raised questions about human relationships with nature vis-à-vis development models that are largely followed worldwide. Conservation biologist Raymond F. Dasmann introduced the concept of “ecosystem people” to describe predominantly rural communities who largely depend on the resources available in one or a few ecosystems around them. These societies are also characterized by their close relationships with nature and their ecocentric worldviews. However, the world today is dominated by “biosphere people” who populate the urban areas and typically use resources extracted from all over the world. This biosphere model of existence has also given rise to a “biosphere culture” with consumption and development as its cornerstones, protected by spectacular technological innovations. COVID-19 has made cracks appear in both the development model and the technological support systems. This has allowed us to realize that our technological shield has been unable to protect us against this virus and leaves us uncertain that similar plagues would not surprise us in the future. The COVID crisis is raising fresh questions about the efficacy of metrics like the GDP in measuring our economy vis-à-vis overall wellbeing. This paper argues that the experiences gained from the COVID-19 crisis should lead us to evolve a new model of development that pays due attention to ecosystem-based approaches. Such a model will move away from the “economy of violence” to an “economy of permanence” by trying to couple local productivity with more inclusive biodiversity conservation. It will also be enriched by the vast biospheric repository of knowledge in all conceivable subject fields. Such a model will represent a paradigm shift by having its philosophical moorings in ecocentric rather than anthropocentric views of nature.