I recently completed a philosophy course in Environmental Ethics. It was immensely insightful and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Below is a short essay I wrote in response to Janis Birkeland’s article “Ecofeminism: Linking Theory and Practice,” which was included in the book, Ecofeminism: Animals, Women, Nature, addressing the relationship between theory and practice. I have attached a pdf of Birkeland’s original article directly below. I encourage you to read her text and then, my reply and response. I hope you enjoy! Please feel free to comment! I always greatly appreciate your feedback.
From an environmental point of view, this is not a good time…The sky is falling, the globe is warning, the ozone hole persists; people are dying of radiation poisoning and other toxic agents; species are being wiped out , thousands per year; coral reefs have nearly all gone. Huge globalized corporations are making bids for the necessities of life from water to health care. Environmental legislation is being threatened around the world. What a perfect opportunity to sit back and reflect on ideas (10).
While Morton’s comments have a note of sarcasm, Morton assuringly suggests that, in fact, “there could be no better time” for reflection (10). Indeed, Morton implores that we “must reflect – theorize, in the broadest sense,” especially “Since ecology and ecological politics are beginning to frame other kinds of science, politics, and culture, we must take a step back and examine some of ecology’s ideological determinants” (10). Morton highlights that while “There is an ideological injunction to act ‘Now!’, there is a futility and a toxicity in the ‘act now’ imperative (117). In this way, Morton points out that “There is a meme that theory is the opposite of practice (117), however, this is a pathological fragmentation and a false binary. “If we value life,” as Janis Birkeland explains, “then we must transform the cultural and institutional infrastructure – our frameworks of thinking, relating, and acting” (15). To do this we are then “tasked with slowing down, using our minds to find out what this all means” (Morton, 117). In short, we must practice theorizing.