As critical research has revealed, climate change scepticism and inaction are not about science but ideas, and specifically the ideas that conform our worldview. Drawing on key theoretical approaches to climate change denial from the social sciences and humanities, this paper discusses the ideological dimension and, more especially, the anthropocentric denial underlying our failure to respond to climate change. We argue that the speciesist anthropocentrism inherent in the current dominant ethics is what prevents humanity from reacting to the main human-induced drivers of global warming. Encouraged to do so by current mainstream ethics, humans overpopulate the planet, grow at the expense of other species, and indulge in cruel, unhealthy and unsustainable practices. We counterpose this ethics against the egalitarian, non-speciesist approach of the animal ethics movement, positing that it represents the next radical reflexive movement and could be used to break the climate deadlock. Animal ethics allows links with inegalitarianism and privilege that may help address climate contrarianism and climate inaction much more effectively.
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Production science as opposed to impact science. The former related to the work of scientists within the industrial capitalist order to invent and innovate products and technologies and involved in the creation of many chemical, technological and ecological risks; the latter involved in the idea of science as part of the solution and not part of the problems created by capitalism (McCright 2016).
By “animal liberation movement” here we refer to the social movement inspired and created by philosophers that seeks an end to the distinction drawn between human and non-human animals, an end to the status of animals as property, and an end to their use in the food, research, fashion and entertainment industries. Although the movement is still very much sustained by philosophers, it has been joined by a long list of scholars from the humanities and social sciences who also contribute intellectually from the fields of law, sociology, psychology, history, anthropology and communication, among others.
The animal lovers or adherents to animal welfare—which in spite of defending other animals in certain circumstances still discriminate for species membership alone—are not included in our definition here of the animal liberation movement (and are not generally included by the literature either). We are not sure our argument works in the case of the animal welfare adherents and for this reason we present it only for the movement looking for the abolition of animal exploitation, also called animal rights movement.
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This work was funded by the Spanish State Research Agency (Agencia Estatal de Investigación, AEI) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under Grant CSO2016-78421-R.
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Almiron, N., Tafalla, M. Rethinking the Ethical Challenge in the Climate Deadlock: Anthropocentrism, Ideological Denial and Animal Liberation. J Agric Environ Ethics 32, 255–267 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10806-019-09772-5
- Climate change denial
- Animal ethics
- Speciesist anthropocentrism
- Modern reflexive movements