Michael E. Zimmerman is a professor of philosophy, a clinical professor of psychology and the co-chair of the environmental studies programme at Tulane University, Louisiana, USA. He has written various essays and books on environmental philosophy.
The book that particularly influenced me was Environmental Philosophy: From Animal Rights to Radical Ecology. It was required reading in my third year of university and by the time I read it I had gone through an arc of discovery and disappointment in the subjects of philosophy and ethics.
I came to realise through studying Environmental Philosophy, that most people didn’t inherently know that all living beings had rights like I did.
That having these views was considered radical and that ‘Greens’ were considered a fanatical minority in society.
This knowledge when it came disheartened rather than buoyed me and I realised for the first time, that there seemed to be three camps of people on this subject:
- The passionate souls who believed as I did that the earth has rights to exist as it naturally does,
- The corporate faceless monsters who think they have the rights to take and act as they like for their personal gain, with no regard or sense of moral duty to other people, animals or the earth, and
- Those who either don’t care at all, or don’t care enough to be proactive about the situation.
Realising how little power I had to change anything on a grand scale, I made lots of little of choices for my life instead; choices that were available to me. I am passionate about waste: reusing, reducing and recycling. I shop ethically, locally and organic as much as possible. I boycott specific products or companies, for example: unsustainable palm oil, and nestle products.
What experiences have you had? Do you shop ethically and worry about your waste? Have you made the switch to renewable energy? Do you believe The Earth should have rights too?