The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Human-Nature Relations
This paper presents a preliminary evaluation of the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic and its implications for human-nature relations and global environmental politics more broadly. We focus on the different, often competing perspectives of anthropocentrism and ecocentrism as normative frameworks for interpreting and reacting to such a disruptive global phenomenon. First, we consider how the anthropocentric norm has justified an unequal and exploitative relationship between humans and non-human nature, and has created the conditions necessary for pandemics to arise. We then present a case for ecocentrism through a brief exploration of the concepts of ecological wholeness and bio-regionalism. Finally, we identify the emerging state of a global anthropocentric inertia, and consider how the response to COVID-19 may actually perpetuate, rather than reduce, the destructive divisions between humans and the environment. In the process, the essay also identifies and examines various intersecting lines of inequality running across species, politico-economic communities (Global North and Global South), and classes that have been exposed or exacerbated by the pandemic.