Biodiversity – the neglected lens for re-imagining property, responsibility and law for the Anthropocene

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract

Abstract

The centrality of rights in the ethical framework of law is inappropriate for grappling with humanity’s role in the Anthropocene. In its place, an ethic of responsibility needs to serve as the basis for evaluating our actions.
The cornerstones of the Anthropocene are paradoxical – including, at once, the entanglement of all species and a uniqueness of humanity. From an ethical perspective, the Anthropocene imposes upon humanity a positive duty to act with care.

Rights, especially individual property rights, bleed separation, hierarchy, subordination into how law interprets the world. It has set up a feeling of distance, abstraction and alienation between humanity and nature. This dominating view of the world has also brought us to this moment of Earth’s history.

Climate change is often presented in the literature as a proxy for the Anthropocene. We argue that biodiversity provides a significant alternate lens through which to conceptualise law in the context of global planetary change and unlock this ethical change. The planetary boundaries framework recognises that the climate and biosphere integrity boundaries are the two most important of the nine planetary boundaries. Meanwhile, the transgressions across the biosphere integrity (i.e. biodiversity) boundary are far greater than that of climate. At the same time, the more place-based characteristics of biodiversity provides an important, yet, to date underexplored lens, to challenge the abstraction of rights and understand responsibility in the Anthropocene. This therefore presents fertile grounding from which to challenge conceptualisations of the Anthropocene which frame all humans as similarly impacted and equally responsible for unprecedented changes in the Earth System.

We argue for a rejection of the rights-based ethic that through property has seen nature/biodiversity as instrumental. We call instead for a place-based relationship with the planet and the more-than-human which embraces human responsibility and the paradox of entanglement and uniqueness.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication7th Frontiers in Environmental Law - IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium
Subtitle of host publicationfinal summary notes and program
PublisherUniversity of South Australia
Pages5
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2021
Event7th Frontiers in Environmental Law Colloquium, University of South Australia; IUCN Academy of Environmental Law -
Duration: 25 Feb 202126 Feb 2021

Conference

Conference7th Frontiers in Environmental Law Colloquium, University of South Australia; IUCN Academy of Environmental Law
Period25/02/2126/02/21

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