2019 is upon us and now is usually the time of new year´s resolutions. So why not have a resolution that contributes to positive environmental actions? One way is to change the way you value and perceive the environment around you. You may not know this; however, your worldview is what determines how you attach value to the environment around you.

Do you attach value to something only for its use to you? Or do you see that something as value attached within itself? Our perception, of attaching value, can be broadly summed up into two spheres namely; Anthropocentric and Ecocentric worldviews.

The Anthropocentric Value

Anthropocentric value refers to the worldview, that all and only members of human species have an intrinsic value attached. Humans see themselves as being the dominant species on Earth. Everything else on earth is seen to have only instrumental value to humans. We see ourselves in the centre and everything else revolves around us, if we can benefit from it.

Unfortunately, this is how most humans attach value to the environment. It started with attaching value to objects and species depending on whether they can satisfy our needs; in terms of food and shelter. Now value is attached in the form of economic terms. This value has led to our Earth being degraded to the point as we know it today.

Let´s take the example of a forest. Value is only attached to the forest in terms of the wood it can produce for building a house or furniture. The land on which it stands can also be in the way of other economic developments, such as agriculture. Thus, the forest will be cut down to satisfy those economic needs.

Ecocentric Value

Ecocentric value, in my opinion, is what we should focus on in adopting for the new year. This is attaching intrinsic value to the environment. Which can be attached to a single species or a whole ecosystem.

Attaching intrinsic value is the realisation that something has value within itself and should be protected. Regardless of the value attached by humans. We need to realise that everything in our environment has its role to play. Its value is objective and independent from any instrumental value it might have.

Attaching Value

Holmes Rolston (1981) suggests that nature has more value attached. Regardless to the instrumental or intrinsic value attached by humans. “It is a mistake to suppose that there is only one form of environmental value; we need to be open to a plurality of possible sources.” (Connelly et al 2012) Rolston identifies ten different sources of value; of which one does not have more value attached than the other. I will now briefly discuss these sources with reference to a forest.

The Ten Value Sources

  1. Economic Value: the forest has economic value attached in terms of the wood that can be produced or the land it possesses.
  2. Life Support: the trees and plants in the forest are crucial to the life supporting systems of Earth, as they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. The forest also creates a habitat for many species.
  3. Recreational: the forest provides us a space for recreational or contemplation activities.
  4. Scientific: many species in the forest still need to be discovered and scientifically analysed.
  5. Aesthetic: the forest gives us the enjoyment of beauty; awe, wonder and humility in the face of sublime.
  6. Life: the forest, in itself, is a living ecosystem
  7. Diversity and Unity: the forest provides a habitat that support a diverse number of species, of which are all united within the ecosystem.
  8. Stability and Spontaneity: the forest ecosystem is stable, when untouched by humans. However, can change when a tree falls, giving space to other species to thrive.
  9. Dialectical: the forest is a space where the social and the natural can be and are interrelated.
  10. Sacramental: the forest can also have some religious value attached. Being a holy place to some.

Would you join me in taking these sources of value into your new year´s resolution? Comment underneath on how you plan to change your view, or how you will value the environment for the future.

Permaculture Value

Permaculture teaches us that there is more to value than just in economic terms, when assessing our environment. It teaches us to recognise the true value of all available resources, species and land. Through the eyes of a Permaculture practitioner, you realise that there is value in creating an abundant agricultural ecosystem. Through recognising the value of the interrelationships that are established between the climate, soil, and fauna and flora.

Permaculture teaches you to recognise and use the intrinsic value attached to all living and non-living objects. You then see that a compost pile is not a pile of dead matter. On the contrary, it is a habitat for millions of organisms that need to be fed in the right quantities. You create pathways to manipulate the flow of water to be used to the best advantage for all. You realise that there is more to the roots of plants than what meets the eye. Recognising the relationships roots establish between plants, or how it can be used for water infiltration or erosion management. Permaculture teaches us many more examples of the underlying values of everything around us.

If you haven’t already, read the article on Meet The Expert Charl. There is a Facebook Live interview in the article where Tricia interviews me. Additionally, keep an eye on my ongoing projects in Cape Town with the Eco-Warriors. Let’s all work towards a more environmentally friendly 2019. Happy New Year!

Reference: Connelly, J, Smith, G, Benson, D, and Saunders, C, 2012. Politics and the Environment. 3rd Edition. Abingdon: Routledge

Charl Laing

Charl Laing is a dedicated individual which strives to help others in promoting positive environmental actions. He was introduced to the concept of Permaculture many years ago, and through his studies in becoming an Environmental Manager, he has grown more of a passion to the use of Permaculture as being the solution to many environmental problems. Today we face many environmental problems of which the majority are caused by the actions of humans. Water scarcity, food insecurity, irregular weather patterns, natural disasters are only a few to mention however, many of us are not aware of the fact that our actions are the cause. Thus, his contribution in his writings is to bring awareness to everyone on how we humans have degraded the Earth´s landscapes and how Permaculture can be used as the solution to remedy these problems. He has attended multiple courses offered by Giuseppe Tallarico and the World Permaculture Association, of which many concepts came to light to him. He had this inner feeling that somehow he needs to become more involved and now from being a student, he has become a proud colleague of the World Permaculture Association.

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