Eco-Production

As demonstrated in Chapter 2, the “hyper-” in hyper-production signifies several things — once again, expressible in terms of the what, how, and how much: commodities are made that are unnecessary or counterproductive for the satisfaction of reasonable human ends (a foregrounded example was cheap mass-produced items); products are often extracted, processed, or manufactured in ways that are anti-environmental (such as fossil fuels); and often too many goods are produced (such as food), akin to what White calls “redundant production” (1978: 109). Bennett traces the relation between too many products and too much trash: “the sheer volume of products, and the necessity of junking them to make room for new ones, devalues the thing” (2004: 350). (Of course, overproduction is correlated with the capitalistic obsessions of maximum profit and perpetual economic growth, an ideology-practice that many scholars have powerfully critiqued, e.g., Daly 1973; Pearce, Mar-kandya and Barbier 1989; McLaughlin 1993; Barbier 2012; Washington and Twomey 2016).

How, then, does eco-production differ from hyper-production? As with instrumentalization and consumption, ecocentrism recognizes the necessity of making: like many other creatures, we humans manufacture goods and services. However, and here we commence with the what question, ecocentric production produces those things that go toward meeting our basic-higher ends. Meyer-Abich contrasts hyper-production with physiocentric production: “earnings [and indeed profits) become the overriding goal of work, rather than the transformation of materials into the necessities of life” (1993: 93). Hence, we should only produce those goods and services that satisfy these “necessities” (which, we insist, include both basic and higher requirements). Eco-production is also mainly antithetical to cheap mass production (there might be a need for some of these goods).

Ecocentric production also focuses on making eco-friendly goods, with various dimensions to this kind of manufacture. Manufactured goods would be thoroughly durable. This goes against the grain of “planned obsolescence,” whereby items are made to intentionally fail within a relatively short period of time (Galbraith 1958; Fisher, Griliches and Kaysen 1962; Bulow 1986; Guilti-nan 2009; Cooper 2016). Eminent environmental thinkers Charles Birch and John B. Cobb, Jr. declare: “Manufactured goods will be built to last; durability will replace planned obsolescence” (1981: 245). Eminent cultural theorist Raymond Williams, who later engaged in ecological thinking, advanced the demand for a shift in “production towards new governing standards of durability, quality and economy” (1983: 256). Whenever possible, ecocentric production involves making items with biodegradable elements (McDonough and Braungart 2002). Better and safer products means more longer-lasting products and healthier consumers, as well as less waste and lower replacement rates, which means less human intervention into the non-human world and lower environmental impacts.

Next, what might be involved in the hotv of eco-production? First of all, given its topicality, we quickly refer to the generation of energy consumables (oil, electricity, gas, etc.). Earth-centeredness favors renewable energy over fossil fuels: the production of renewable energy is less intrusive than conventional energy production; furthermore, less waste and other harmful by-products are also involved with more eco-friendly energy generation. We also return here to the subject of food and food production. Earth-centeredness calls for the best eco-practices, including biodynamics, aeroponics, organic, indoor, urban, and shared farming (Koepf 1989; Dyck 1994; Podolinsky 2002; Pauli 2006, 2011; Gebissa 2010; Kaak 2010, 2012; Menck 2012; Subramaniam and Kong 2012; Strasser 2014; MacDonald 2015; Blok 2018; Holzman 2018).

Of course, the question of the hotv of production is often more complicated than what a brief discussion can convey. This complexity is perhaps most aptly illuminated by focusing on the most controversial mode of food production: hunting. Once again, the assumed response might be that eco-centeredness automatically rejects this practice - but, like the food-consumption question, the response is more nuanced. To begin with, we note with environmental philosopher Gary Varner (1995) that there are three basic types of hunting. A first form is subsistence hunting. As the name clearly indicates, it involves activity that allows the hunter to live. This form of predation is ecocentrically acceptable because it is pursued for the sake of meeting an essential end (sustenance). We could also add that it generally tends to occur at smaller scales, so the environmental impact is relatively low. The Inuit example cited earlier would be classified under this category.

The second type of hunting is undertaken for the greater ecological good, i.e., a species of animal or plant, whose unfolding leads to excessive environmental destruction, is restricted or eradicated in order to protect the broader ecosystem from further destruction (Leopold 1989; Callicott 1989: 21). We could also add here the subcategory whereby the hunted animals can also be a source of food for humans (and others). For example, in parts of Australia where there are overabundant kangaroo herds, their culling not only contributes to land conservation but is also a source of food (Grigg 1987; Grigg, Hale and Lunney 1995; Chapman 2003; Cooney and others 2008; Wilson and Edwards 2008).

The third category of hunting often goes by offensive euphemisms like “game/sport/recreational/trophy hunting.” We immediately recognize the profoundly unethical nature of this activity. Apart from an assortment of rigorous arguments against this practice (Caras 1970; Baker 1985; Collard and Con-trucci 1988; Kheel 1996; Gunn 2001; Simon 2016; Batavia and others 2018), we (also) reject it according to the present work's ecocentric logic because it does not satisfy basic-higher human needs. Hunting, in this instance, is enacted for a kind of perverted human enjoyment - an exemplary homocentric practice: we humans consider ourselves so superior to non-humans that we hunt them down just to satiate our distorted desires.

We conclude our discussion of eco-production by briefly turning to the question of how much production. With Earth-centered production, manufacturing rates are drastically minimized for several reasons. To begin with, as we embrace “the given” or what we already have, there is less demand for the production of more items for additional acquisition or the replacement of used ones. A moderate amount of manufacturing also means a moderate amount of waste. Mathews eloquently identifies the link between eco-centered attachment and lower production rates: “We no longer crave bigger and better houses, cars, roads, cities, whatever. We are instead attached to what is already given. There is thus no call for ever-increasing productivity” (1999a: 127).

 
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