Shared Habitats & Ecosystems

Shared Habitats & Ecosystems

Some scientists have renamed our current geological epoch the “Anthropocene” to represent the profound destructive impact that the humans species is having, since the industrial revolution, on the earth’s biological systems, such as instigating the sixth mass extinction of species.[18] As all living beings and ecosystems are interdependent and reliant on biological diversity, humans have a moral obligation to repair ecosystem health and discover alternatives to unsustainable practices, such as human sprawl and destruction of natural habitats, hunting, dirty energy exploration and reliance on fossil fuels, greenhouse gas emissions and other prevalent forms of pollution, animal agribusiness and commercial fishing, genetic modification of organisms (GMOs), and excessive consumer consumption (which depletes shared resources like freshwater and amasses non-degradable waste like plastic).[19]

The goals of the environmental movement overlap, in part, with those of the animal protection movement when it comes to raising the status of nonhuman life in human culture and protecting wildlife habitats from exploitation. Animal and environmental protection campaigns can work together to defend endangered species and their habitats, fight climate change and other devastating forms of pollution, prevent hunting of marine mammals and harmful commercial fishing practices, end factory farming, and promote organic (non-GMO), plant-based agriculture and diets. Animal and environmental campaigns often target similar opponents, typically governments (with laws that enable oppression or lack enforcement) or corporations/industries (exploiting living beings and natural systems in a profit-centered global market). The two movements also engage the public, both as citizens who can demand institutional change from powerful organizations and as consumers who can adopt more sustainable, compassionate lifestyle choices.[20]

To enable a mass movement to support the needed protection of life and living systems in an era of environmental crisis, the media must play a role by prioritizing news coverage of these issues and engaging eco-centric and non-speciesist perspectives. In addition, advertising and entertainment media need to avoid promoting conspicuous consumption, materialism, and unsustainable lifestyles that encourage everyone, including “developing” nations to emulate this standard of living that is beyond what the planetary resources can support.[21] As part of environmental problem-solving, in her book EcoMind, activist Frances Moore Lappe encourages communication that fosters the best aspects of human nature (such as cooperation, empathy, truthfulness, sharing, fairness, and creativity) and considers what actions will enhance all life and lead us to co-existing with and co-creating with nature.[22]


[18] Steffen, W., Crutzen, P., & McNeill, J. (2007). The Anthropocene: Are humans now overwhelming the great forces of nature? Ambio, 36(8), 614–621.

[19] See resources such as: Wilson, Edward O. (2010). The Diversity of Life, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. And Jamieson, Dale (2002). Morality’s Progress: Essays on Humans, Other Animals, and the Rest of Nature. New York: Oxford University Press.

[20] See resources such as: Kheel, Marti (2008). Nature Ethics: An Ecofeminist Perspective. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.  And Freeman, Carrie P. (2010). Meat’s Place on the Campaign Menu: How U.S. Environmental Discourse Negotiates Vegetarianism. Environmental Communication, 4(3), 255–276.  And Varner, Gary E. (1998). In Nature’s Interests? Interests, Animal Rights, and Environmental Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press.

[21] See resources such as: Diamond, J. M. (2005). Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Viking. And a DVD by Brockhoff, G. (2010). Shop ’til You Drop: The Crisis of Consumerism. Northampton, MA: Media Education Foundation.

[22] Lappe, Frances Moore (2011). EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want, New York: Nation Books.

 For citation purposes, this page was last updated December 2014