Capitalistic Anthropocentrism: Leading Cause of Biodiversity Loss?
An anthropocentric (“human-centered”) view of nature, arguably a result of a capitalistic ideology (or vice versa), refers to the relationship between humans and animals, particularly a relationship in which animals and plants are valuable only to the extent to which they can be used and exploited by humans for humans in a capitalist system. This view sees nature as an instrument, rather than having any intrinsic value. The anthropocentric view of nature would suggest not only that nature is distinct from (and an instrument for) humans, but also that humans are individually-defined, autonomous creatures that selfishly pursue only their own needs and wants. Therefore, the suggestion is that humans too are distinct from and instrumentally used by other humans. In lieu of this idea, during the last century, erosion of biodiversity and species extinction has been increasingly observed due to human activities, in particular, destruction of plant and animal habitats. Almost all scientists acknowledge that the rate of species loss is greater now than at any time in human history, with extinctions occurring at rates hundreds of times higher than background extinction rates, as an estimated one of eight known plant species and a potential 140,000 species per year are threatened with extinction (Pimm, et al). Elevated rates of extinction are being driven by anthropocentric, capitalistic human consumption of organic resources, deforestation to clear land for housing development and agricultural and commercial use, and oil pollution representative of material waste; consequently, a move toward an eco-centric view of life other than human should be a human priority.