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  A mixed world view

Combining the two perspectives, ecocentric and technocentric
Priorities vary depending on each one's background, setting, issue at hand and status. These variables are important factors for the formation of environmental ethical reasoning, either ecocentric or technocentric. However, few would advocate having put into practice a pure ecocentric or technocentric philosophy. A good example described by O'Riordan is that of Thoreau, 19th century philosopher and naturalist, 'the best known ascetic', who gave up civilized life for a 'natural' existence in the woodland, but kept dependent on the Bostonian society to promote his work and finally returned to that society after some time. The 'modern ecocentric fad for returning to nature', says O'Riordan, denotes the need to escape from an uncertain future and find a refuge from a decadent and unjust society as 'it will never provide a credible alternative to the powerful forces of centralisation'. 15 Likewise, 'the isolated commune is not the answer to our present problems' and stresses the need for active social participation against retreat.

Going further, 'coexistence of the two modes (ecocentric and technocentric) would not necessarily produce compromise', he says, 'but better understanding instead'. He sees an 'apparent' irreconcilability between the two viewpoints and he also sees at times, 'beneath the baying and the trumpeting', mutual respect between advocates, sincerity and commitment. Similarly, J.H. Iguchi, environmentalist, maintains that in education, the weaknesses of a purely technocentric or ecocentric approach can lead to unfocused studies and suggests a combination of technocentric and ecocentric perspectives. He emphasizes that in environmental education, technocentric perspectives must be balanced with ecocentric perspectives.16

Given that ecocentrists believe in nature's intrinsic value, that technocentrists are primarily anthropocentric, and that anthropocentrists are rarely nonenvironmental nowadays, but believe that nature deserves moral consideration as it affects humans, one may conclude that there is a goal common to all - sustainable development (for all), the protection of nature and the environment. Together on earth

Most people fall somewhere between these two positions. They hold a pragmatic view that combines some elements of ecocentric and technocentric views. Many of the environmental managers of today hold such a mixed world view and believe that resources can be utilised in a sustained way to meet larger societal goals. 17

To the 'pragmatic view' Mac Kay (2008) adds a big dose of realism, so much needed today:

Let's be realistic. Just like Britain, Europe can't live on its own renewables. So if the aim is to get off fossil fuels, Europe needs nuclear power, or solar power in other people's deserts. 18

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15 T. O'Riordan, Environmentalism, 2nd revised edition, (Pion Books, London, 1981), p. 10
16 J. Iguchi, Strategies for Environmental Education from Philosophical Points of View, 2003 (
17 J. Eflin, Industry in Concert with the Environment: Technological Change and Industrial Ecology, 1997 (
18 D. Mac Kay, Sustainable Energy - without the hot air. UIT Cambridge, 2009, p 14


    Building Environmental Performance