Environmental justice advocates have for decades stressed the need for a more holistic approach to ecological system (ecosystem) protection, predicated on more respect for everything from non-human animals to bodies of water. This kind of justice advocacy follows the thinking of philosophers such as Aldo Leopold with his land ethic approach giving humans the moral responsibility to protect the land, for the land's sake, and with a focus on healthy, self-renewing ecosystems. While this 70-year old line of reasoning may still represent an outlying concept to some, the current state of climate change and the continued human-caused environmental degradation of ecosystems worldwide provides abundant evidence for the need for a plethora of healthy land ecosystems and water ecosystems as well.
Numerous countries have already taken steps to address more widespread ecosystem protection, yet the means by which these measures are implemented and enforced vary greatly. The differing success of existing programs and laws aimed at greater ecosystem protection begs the question of how to most effectively "speak for the non-human," in a way that not only expresses the vitality of ecosystems to human life but also captures their intrinsic value in non-anthropogenic terms. Endangered Ecosystems explores ethics and justice in ecosystem protection through first examining the role of justice in the natural world, followed by an analysis of the concept of Rights of Nature and a look at instances where ethics and justice have worked in the favour of natural ecosystems in comparison to unethical environmental practices. These analyses inform a final discussion of potential pathways to ethical ecosystem protection, supported by accounts by sustainability and justice experts and inspired by the ideas of environmentalists such as Aldo Leopold, Peter Singer, and Paul W. Taylor, in order to argue that Rights of Nature and environmental justice principles can be utilized more holistically to create systems of ethical ecosystem protection.
Dr Jay Beeks completed his PhD in transformative studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies. This TSD program is in the social sciences with an emphasis on leadership and sustainability. His dissertation was on alternative economics, exploring fourteen alternatives to our present system of capitalism. Specifically, how these alternative systems may be integrated into or completely replace capitalism for the benefit of society, natural ecological systems and to address the problems of global climate change. Prior to this PhD, Dr Beeks completed a sustainability MBA from Marylhurst University, an MS in environmental science from the Oregon Graduate Institute, an MS in civil engineering from Portland State University and a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Arizona.
Alexander Ziko is a data analyst for Rapid Insight, a data and predictive modeling software company located in New Hampshire. Originally from Portland, ME, Alexander earned his BS from Green Mountain College and his MBA from Franklin Pierce University. He has published work in the European Journal of Sustainable Development Research. Currently, Alexander resides in Jackson, New Hampshire with his wife and their golden retriever, Olaf.
Nicole Cox is a professionally-trained research assistant and sustainability advocate focused on issues of environmental justice and ethics. Nicole has conducted extensive research on topics such as water policy, human thermal comfort and urban densification, and the justice implications of nuclear power generation. She completed her undergraduate education at Arizona State University, where she obtained dual degrees in Sustainability and Justice Studies.
Sukhmani Singh is a senior at Arizona State University Barrett, the Honors College majoring in Political Science and Sustainability with a concentration in Policy and Governance, minoring in Spanish, and working towards a certificate in Energy & Sustainability. After graduation, she hopes to attend law school and eventually pursue a career in environmental law and energy policy. Currently, she works with a non-profit organization called Solar United Neighbors as a Policy and Advocacy intern where she advocates for the expansion of rooftop solar in Arizona. Outside of school and work, Sukhmani spends her time volunteering with They See Blue in an effort to mobilize South Asian-Americans to vote.