This article offers an exploration of the ontological differences between classical environmentalist perspectives and those of environmental human rights advocates. It has two substantive parts. The first section is a historical survey of central tenets of traditional forms of environmentalism, which discusses the aesthetic, utilitarian and scientific frameworks therein. The second section similarly examines environmental human rights and, in particular, two key concepts: sustenance rights and security rights. The concluding section summarises the central normative and ontic differences between these two traditions.