Why protect nature? Rethinking values and the environment

| March 4, 2016 | Leave a Comment

Salmon netting on the Taw & Torridge | North Devon Moving Image | CC BY

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Media Type: News / Op - Ed

Date of Publication: February 9, 2016

Year of Publication: 2016

Publisher: National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Author(s): Kai M. A. Chan, Patricia Balvanera, Karina Benessaiah, Mollie Chapman, Sandra Díaz, Erik Gómez-Baggethun, Rachelle Gould, Neil Hannahs, Kurt Jax, Sarah Klain, Gary W. Luck, Berta Martín-López, Barbara Muraca, Bryan Norton, Konrad Ott, Unai Pascual, Terre Satterfield, Marc Tadaki, Jonathan Taggart, Nancy Turner

Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)

Volume: 113: 6

Categories: , , ,

Should nature be protected for the services it provides us or for its own intrinsic values? This is a question long debated in the realm of environmental policy. What if there was a third class of values? In this article, Kai M. A. Chan et al. propose engaging with relational values.

ABSTRACT: A cornerstone of environmental policy is the debate over protecting nature for humans’ sake (instrumental values) or for nature’s (intrinsic values). We propose that focusing only on instrumental or intrinsic values may fail to resonate with views on personal and collective well-being, or “what is right,” with regard to nature and the environment. Without complementary attention to other ways that value is expressed and realized by people, such a focus may inadvertently promote worldviews at odds with fair and desirable futures. It is time to engage seriously with a third class of values, one with diverse roots and current expressions: relational values. By doing so, we reframe the discussion about environmental protection, and open the door to new, potentially more productive policy approaches

Kai Chan is a member of the Connecting Humans and Natural System Lab at the University of British Columbia.

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