Ecosystem Services, Fear and the Subjects of Environmental Human Rights
A. Grear and L. Kotze, Research Handbook on Human Rights (2015) (Edward Elgar) 508-530
23 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2015
Date Written: January 11, 2015
This work reflects upon whether the concept of ecosystem services simply promotes and sustains an unacceptable domination and control of nature as compared to promoting and sustaining more intimate, integrated or wild experiences of it. It begins by describing what the concept of ecosystem services means and highlights the way in which it helps decision-makers to have discussions about people’s preferences for certain things in the context of the functioning of ecosystems. This is followed by an introduction to and discussion of critiques of the concept of ecosystem services, which is then used to highlight the challenges it presents concerning how humans engage with the natural world. This part of the argument concludes that concepts like ecosystem services almost entirely gain their significance because of a human tendency to interact with nature as if the world is inert and powerless to impose itself in return. The last part of this chapter discusses our experiences of ‘fear’ to suggest that the language and concept of ecosystem services can dull our senses to certain realities about our relationship to the natural world. It is argued that our capacity to fear is critical for rewilding the human species and for ensuring that humans also have intimate experiences of nature through our senses rather than just mediating ‘nature’ through conceptual frameworks that abstract us apart from the natural world. Such a rewilding, by direct corollary, could have energizing critical implications for the identity of the ‘human rights subject’ at the heart of rights-based approaches and of legal systems more generally.
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