Ecological Integrity

In a technical essay, ‘Governance For Integrity: A Distant But Necessary Goal’ [ewl, 324-336], Laura Westra calls for ecological integrity to replace our notion of anthropomorphic sustainability. She provides a short history of the ethics of ecological integrity, touching on Leopold (1949), the US Clean Water Act (1972), the international Great Lakes water quality treaty (1988), and the Noss Wildlands Project.

By technical, I mean that Westra is hard to understand; at times, she is obscure, using untranslated Latin and other legalese that lawyers may understand, but not people in the general community. Who is she writing for? Lawyers or you and me? She hopes for a future of great possibility, of achieving great things. Don’t we all?

However, in contrast, Jean Vanier writes: ‘A community is only being created when its members accept that they are not going to achieve great things, that they are not going to be heroes, but simply live each day with new hope, like children, in wonderment as the sun rises and in thanksgiving as it sets. Community is only being created when they have recognized that the greatness of humanity lies in the acceptance of our insignificance, our human condition and our earth.’ (Community and Growth, 110)

Chess humbles me, for I miss even the obvious; talking with Sue humbles me, for there seven billion other human consciences (and billions and billions of non-humans); watching Brian Greene talk about multiverses humbles me, for what did Copernicus start (he started biocentrism), and where will it end, and who am I (and where am I and when am I and why am I)? If I had been born in another culture or another time, another universe….

Somebody said our purpose is living, loving, laughing. (Actually, it was Living Loving and Learning by Leo Buscaglia–but why not living, loving, learning, and laughing?)

Westra connects ecological integrity and human rights in the development of global governance. Together, they form ecojustice. She concludes that a return to ecojustice would nurture ‘the life of present and future generations.’ Its a paradox of arrogance and humility and another of the eternal now versus future thought. Perhaps only by pursuing ecojustice can we truly live, love, laugh, and learn.

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