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dc.contributor.authorAkhtarkhavari, Afshin
dc.contributor.editorKeyzer P., Popovski V. and Sampford C.
dc.description.abstractIntroduction In the past few years a range of scientists have argued that in geological terms planet earth has reached the end of what is known as the Holocene epoch.2 This epoch is a stage in the Cenozoic era that, generally speaking, stands for the flourishing of mammalian life. The name given to this new geological epoch is the Anthropocene epoch. It is defined in terms of the significance of the anthropogenic impact that human beings have had on earth’s subsystems. A perspective that the Anthropocene epoch forces on us is the idea that, as a species, the significance of our footprint raises questions about fairness and justness of who we are as a species because what we do is no longer local but truly global in terms of its impact on planet earth. The idea of entering the Anthropocene epoch raises concerns about our capacity as a collective force at the international level to achieve long-term environmental or ecological justice. ‘Ecological justice’ as compared to environmental justice is a term used to describe the justness of the kind of relationship that humans have with the natural world.3 The term ‘environmental justice’ is more commonly used as a way of describing the distribution of interests that humans have in relation to each other when it comes to their use of the natural environment.4 As such, ecological justice and access to it, as opposed to just environmental justice, raises important intellectual concerns going forward in the Anthropocene epoch. Commentators and scholars often turn to existing constructs in analysing the idea of ecological justice. One such instance is around granting access in courts and other public institutions for adjudicating and addressing the rights and interests of nature. Drawing on the work of Michel Serres in The Natural Contract, this chapter suggests that what is more important is for us to avoid excluding the natural world from the social and cultural agreements or contracts that define us and what we value outside of our self-interest. It argues that we narrow our social and cultural constructions of the world and objects in a way necessary for achieving ecological justice in the Anthropocene epoch. Establishing a symbiotic or reciprocal partnership that is more holistic than the one that draws simply on the rights of nature discourse is more likely to enable cultural changes that will assist us to appreciate the gravity of the collective way in which we are responsible for ensuring ecological justice in the Anthropocene Epoch. The chapter has two parts: the first will trace developments in adjudicating environmental issues and shows how varieties of courts and adjudicative bodies exist creating fragmented ways for judging human interests in matters that also raise environmental issues. These institutions are suited to arbitrating ‘environmental’ as compared to ‘ecological’ justice claims because in most cases they are functionally important bodies for reducing conflicts amongst states. Their fragmentation adds to the challenge of accessing ecological justice in a systematic manner. The second part departs dramatically from the descriptive view of fragmentation and offers a view on the cosmopolitan, public and collective expression of judgment about our relationship with nature through the well-known cultural icon and text, namely a painting by Edvard Munch which in English is titled the The Scream of Nature. The analysis suggests that relying on individual expressions of what is ecological justice is currently more about us as a human species than a global partnership or a natural contract. This is followed by a description and brief assessment of the work of Michel Serres in The Natural Contract and places emphasis on a few parts that have meaning for this chapter. This chapter analyses and engages with the work of Serres as an alternative to the rights of nature discourse and as a means to rethink the collective way in which we need to respond to accessing ecological justice issues in the Anthropocene epoch.
dc.publisher.placeUnited States
dc.relation.ispartofbooktitleAccess to International Justice
dc.subject.fieldofresearchEnvironmental and Natural Resources Law
dc.titleAccessing Ecological Justice in the Anthropocene Epoch!
dc.typeBook chapter
dc.type.descriptionB1 - Chapters
dc.type.codeB - Book Chapters
gro.facultyArts, Education & Law Group, School of Law
gro.hasfulltextNo Full Text
gro.griffith.authorAkhtarkhavari, Afshin

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