The concept of ecosystem services recognizes and values an ecosystem for its contributions to human welfare while ensuring that decision makers properly account for its ecological value. Why is this concept gaining such popularity to the extent that the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in 2005 pinned its hopes on it and contributed significantly to building the architecture for its use and development? This Chapter describes and analyses the concept to illustrate how concepts like ecosystem services, while valuing the natural world, do so ultimately to conserve and preserve it for human consumption and enjoyment. Concepts like ecosystem services that are founded on ecological economics are often the subject of wide-ranging critical perspectives. This Chapter, after discussing some of them, argues that the concept can lead to unacceptable closures in terms of how we think about, but importantly also feel and experience in our relationship to the natural world. Our experiences of ‘fear’ have been central to our survival as a species, yet ecological economics and by extension concepts like ecosystem services have focused our collective attention on controlling certain realities of our relationship to the natural world. This has meant that our capacity to productively experience fear has been dulled or sullied rather than enhanced and its nuanced expressions recognized and revitalized in the light of on-going ecological problems. It is argued that our capacity to fear is critical for ‘rewilding’ the human species and for ensuring that humans also have intimate experiences of nature through our senses rather than just mediating ‘nature’ through conceptual frameworks that abstract our personal experiences apart from the natural world. Such a rewilding, by direct corollary, could have energizing critical implications for the identity of the ‘human rights subject’ at the heart of rights-based approaches and of legal systems more generally.
Samuli Haataja and Afshin Akhtar-Khavari
This article considers the Stuxnet cyberattack in the context of international law on the use of force below the armed attack threshold. With a focus on the concept of ‘force’ within Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, it is argued that international law embodies an anthropocentric and materialist view of violence. Violence, as traditionally understood in the context of Article 2(4), involves a state using kinetic weapons to damage or destroy physical property, or injure or kill human beings within another state. Using the Stuxnet incident as a case study and as a tool of critique, it is argued that the law's one-dimensional conception of violence, which focuses on physical damage, limits its ability to recognise the non-material harm Stuxnet caused to countless virtual entities and processes. As such, the law does not adequately account for the non-material ways in which states that are increasingly dependent on information and communication technologies can be harmed. As a means of overcoming the law's limited conception of violence, this article draws on Luciano Floridi's information ethics. This is a theory that extends its ethical concern beyond the material world to include all entities, whether natural or artificial, physical or virtual. In this article it is used both to critique the law's anthropocentrism and materialism and to provide an alternative account of the harm that Stuxnet caused.
Afshin Akhtar-Khavari and Anastasia Telesetsky
Environmental protection continues to be the key driver of conceptual and technical developments in environmental law and governance. However, protection initiatives alone simply assume that passive restoration will support ecosystem health and resilience moving forward. In the Anthropocene, where talks about breaches of planetary boundaries are too common, we have to rethink whether concepts like protection or even sustainability make us complacent about nature’s own capacity to restore itself. Restoration ecology encourages human beings to actively assist with the holistic recovery of ecosystems to an historical trajectory that will enable it to function in a healthy way. This chapter considers whether international environmental law is geared to supporting restoration generally and restoration ecology in particular. After examining the significance of restoration for reshaping environmental governance in the Anthropocene this chapter surveys international soft law instruments and asks whether and to what extent they have dealt with restoration issues and whether enough evidence exists to suggest that the groundwork has been done to shift environmental law from simply protecting ecosystem to holistically restoring them in the Anthropocene. The chapter argues that international environmental law has yet to use holistic approaches to restoration that compel the involvement of human beings as active agents in the recovery of ecosystem. Crucially, existing international environmental law has yet to define ecological parameters for states who undertake legally mandated restoration; as a result, restoration in practice may do little more than achieve remediation and rehabilitation, leading to an irreversible loss of ecosystem functions.