Humans, Nonhuman Animals, and Ecological Resilience: A Bridgeable Chasm

Peter Berkman

Climate change and species extinction destroy the global ecosystem, and harm non-human animals and humans. Ecoresilience, well-being of non-human animals, and well-being of humans can be seen as three categorically different yet interwoven metrics for the end goal of well-being of sentient life. The destruction of all three of those metrics are rooted within hierarchical relations of humans and humans. Social freedom and virtues that lead to and are interwoven with human well-being are not only compatible with ecoresilience and non-human well-being. The virtues and freedom that enable human well-being to flourish give humans the potential to be catalysts for the flourishing of non-human well-being and global ecological integrity and resilience. Changes in human attitudes are necessary but insufficient for solving current ecological crises. The individualistic conception of social change misses the forests for the trees. Hierarchical institutions inhibit the potential for ethical and ecological lifestyle choices.

Hierarchical roots of avoidable human suffering:

Hierarchical relations are institutionalized forms of authoritarian relations. Authoritarian relations are based on the negation of free association (the ability freely join an association, freely disassociate from an association, and maintain freedom within that association as well as a lack of rulers in regards to decision-making processes bounded by the rights of others to these very relations). Hierarchy is based on rulership. The Whitehall Study shows that disparities of economic and political power increase mortality risks, especially for those at the bottom of hierarchies [1]. The studies presented in The Spirit Level show that inequality is harmful to physical health, mental health, child well-being, education, and social mobility, increases drug abuse, obesity, teenage births, imprisonment and violence [2]. “Not only does Structural Violence kill more people than all the behavioral violence put together, structural violence is also the main cause of behavioral violence.” — James Gilligan [43]. We have the potential to minimize toil through abolishing bureaucratic jobs and automating undesired mechanical labor, which would free us to do what we want to do and not what we are coerced to do in order to survive. The buying and selling of things is the buying and selling of people who use things. The state is a form of hierarchical political governance that not only enforces the laws of the market, but is harmful in and of itself through the inhibition of free association and the use of force to maintain centralized violence (by extension the most powerful weaponry the state can use), and by extension the unnecessary harming of humans. We can have rules without rulers, or rulers unaccountable to rules they selectively enforce.

Hierarchical roots of artificial climate change and species extinction and the destruction of eco-resilience:

As opposed to viewpoints that reduce ecological crises to non-social factors, social ecology is a theory that claims “present ecological problems cannot be clearly understood, much less resolved, without resolutely dealing with problems within society.” [3]. Social ecology roots artificial ecological problems in hierarchical relations between humans and humans [3]. Capitalism uses money as a measurement for resources, and incentivizes profit and by extension cost efficiency at the expense of ecological resilience, liberatory technical potential (the potential for technology being used to liberate life from harm), and human and non-human freedom and well-being at every single stage of production and distribution that doing so makes sense for the end goal of profit maximization. The market turns life into non-life to the extent that doing so centralizes economic power. The state turns life into non-life to the extent that doing so enables a monopoly on violence through maximizing violent technical potential. This competitive self-maximization principle of hierarchical systems is at the expense of humanity and the environment humans are dependent upon. The grow or die imperative of microcosmic and macrocosmic hierarchical political economies creates self-maximization at the expense of the very life support systems required for life to flourish. Markets enforced by states provide no legal limits to how much one can own, creating scarcity and ecocide when the technology and resources exist for there to be more than enough to go around and enable a high standard of living for all people on the planet [42].

Rather than an ecological economy based on “life → means of freedom, virtues, and well-being → better quality of life and life systems”, we have a life/freedom/virtue/pleasure-blinded economy based on “money → means of destruction for production → more money” and an economy based on “money → more money” [47]. The competitive self-maximizing mechanisms of money, hierarchical economic institutions, and hierarchical political institutions generate scarcity which is then fuel for more profit since the more scarce a good/service is the more one can sell it for. This destroys ecological resilience which is based on “variety and diversity: if the environment is simplified and the variety of animal and plant species is reduced, fluctuations in population become marked and tend to get out of control”[57]. Ecological resilience creates greater “creativity, choices, and freedom” throughout human communities and non-humans and not just more stability [58].

In regards to artificial causes of greenhouse gases as of 2004, 26% of greenhouse gases can be sourced to energy supply, 19% of greenhouse gases can be sourced to industry, 17% of greenhouse gases can be sourced to deforestation and land use, 13% can be sourced to transportation[9].

Regardless of our attitudes, hierarchical systems do not enable us to act ecologically. Abolishing hierarchy is necessary but insufficient for dealing with ecological problems. It is possible to have free forms with ignorant content. In this sense ecological crises are also rooted in ignorance and malevolence, which are maximized and institutionalized through hierarchy. We have the technical ability to solve ecological issues, yet hierarchical socioeconomic systems suppress our current technical potential. Our suppressed liberatory technical potential in relation to climate change is as follows:

Energy Supply:

We already have the energy resources and technology to avoid the use of fossil fuels. We currently use 0.5 zettajoules of energy every year. There are currently over 2000 easily accessible zettajoules of geothermal energy, which rejuvenates [4]. If we capture less than 1% of the solar energy hitting the earth’s surface during high noon in just one day, we would have enough energy to power the entire planet for a year [5]. According to the Stanford source Evaluation of Global Wind Power, wind energy alone can satisfy 100% of our energy needs[6]. Harnessing energy from the waves has the potential to provide 50% of the world’s energy supply[7]. Hemp-based nano sheets batteries are more efficient and more ecological than current methods of energy storage. [10]

Transportation:

Transportation that uses maglev technology (magnetic levitation technology) has the potential to take us from Los Angeles to New York in 45 minutes, and from The US to Beijing China in 2 hours. Maglev technology such as ET3 uses 2% of the energy requirement of traditional transportation methods [8]. Maglevs are also more resource efficient than traditional transport. And in a compassionate and sane society utilizing current liberatory technical potential, there would be a free maglev transport system and automated cars that one could use. If there was a library system of usership of maglev capsules and automated cars, owning & personalizing such items would be a hassle in the same way that owning & personalizing a shopping cart would be a hassle. This library model being extended throughout the economy would help limit our consumption of resources.

Industry:

A large amount of the greenhouse gases are from fossil fuels that power industry. But there is more than merely fossil fuel use. Production under the influence of profit has a very different means and ends than production for meeting human needs with ecological care. Not only is there production for the sake of production, there is planned and unplanned obsolescence because cost efficiency and profit oriented economic systems get in the way of our ability to ephemeralize industry (do more with less). Ephemeralization has an ecological potential because it enables us to use less resources to do more. Money and profit are at the expense of recyclability, durability, renewability, ephemeralized production, and ephemeralized distribution. Library-esque access centers would enable there to be less produced to be used by more people. Computers and the internet have enabled a relatively infinite digital commons. Often (but by no means always) more ecological (and more ethical) products are more expensive because cost efficiency is at the very least slightly stunted (as a mechanism to maximize profit). This makes more ecological products for those who are wealthier. Conspicuous consumption, that is the consumption for the sake of status rather than freedom and well-being, is an anti-social and anti-ecological value system that is at the expense of the conspicuous consumer who is psychologically tortured enough to have such a value system. Plastic and many forms of metals can be replaced by the use of hemp [11].

Towards Social Animal Liberation:

Sentient life, and ecosystems that enable sentient life and can develop into sentient life, deserve ethical consideration because sentient life is able to feel pleasure and pain. If we ignore potentiality of life to evolve from what is to what it could be, we are thinking reductively, freezing time and space at the expense of the future. The ability to perceive pain and pleasure gives animals ethical consideration to those who care about the pain and pleasure of these non-human animals. More than 70 billion land animals are killed every year from animal agriculture [15]. .94-2.7 trillion animals are pulled from the ocean every year [16]. We ought to develop a way of minimizing harm to non-human animals. Alternatives to animal agriculture:

It is important to root potentiality in actuality, or root what should be within what can be and what is. We have the potential to use aeroponics and veganic permaculture. Aeroponics, although it uses initial labor, uses much less labor over time, using less horizontal space, 50% less nutrients, 45% less time to grow plants, and 99% less water [12]. It is scalable technology, can control for climate variables and be used to get greater degrees of localization food productions. It would take 144,000 vertical farm structures using .006% of the world’s land to feed 7.2 billion people using 30 story farm structures that use 6.4 acres of land and feed 50,000 people [56]. Veganic permaculture mixes vegan ethics with permaculture using free-living animals rather than domesticated ones. We should not exclusively use aeroponics for a few reasons: Aesthetic characteristics and beauty of plants throughout a community, terpenes one gets from the sun; resilient communities should use multiple methods, there is a diversity of plants created through polyculture gardening, and communal gardening, assisted by automation of mechanized labor, will be an “intellectual, scientific, and artistic challenge” for people that will help give them an understanding of life and ethics [57].

Roots of unethical human and non-human relations:

Animal agriculture and the killing of animals for food has been used in times due to scarcity and necessity, and in times when there other options available. “Human and non-human relations” are caused by human relationships to humans. Every individual has a social dimension that gives them the knowledge and ethics that they develop. Outside of non-artificial scarcity, It is the ignorance, malevolence, abuse, unmet needs, and most importantly hierarchical social systems that cause animal agriculture and animal cruelty to flourish. Capitalism turns life into non-life to the degree that doing so maximizes profit, and the laws that enable such ecocidal externalities are enforced by the state which turns life into non-life to the degree that doing so secures and reinforces the monopoly on violence through creation of the most powerful weaponry possible. The USA spends 60% of agricultural subsidies on animal agriculture [13]. Subsidies to animal agriculture make ecocidal and cruel products more profitable to produce and less expensive to buy, and the ecosystem services and functions destroyed in the process are mere “externalities” to the laws of the market. [14]. Killing animals on a large scale is good for many people’s businesses, and inversely stopping animal agriculture would be bad for many people’s businesses, as would free food for everyone on the planet. This shows how contradictory hierarchical socioeconomic systems are to humanist and ecological ethics.

Harm to humans:

As nutritionist Dr. Greger says, “animal products are the only significant source of cholesterol” which is related to heart disease [18]. Even one egg exceeds the recommended amount of cholesterol one should have in a day [17]. One meta analysis showed that vegetarianism reduces heart disease by a third [35]. Eating dead animal flesh is a causal factor for cancer [32, 33, 34]. The China Study found that mortality rates are inversely associated with the amount of plant-based foods one eats and did not even find a threshold at where more plant based foods stopped producing a benefit [36]. A vegan diet defines itself by what is not being eaten but not what is being eaten. There are many ways to do a vegan diet poorly, which is why it is essential that people take B12 and D3 vitamins as well as eating a balanced diet. If done well, humans can lower risk of mortality and live a better life that goes far beyond temporary pleasures of eating dead animal flesh.

Destruction of ecoresilience and biodiversity:

When livestock and byproducts are taken into account, livestock counts for up to 51% of artificial greenhouse gases, releasing thirty-two millions tons of carbon dioxide a year [19]. Livestock is responsible for 65% of nitrous oxide [20]. Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane on an average day [21]. Livestock occupies 45% of Earth’s land [22]. If factory farms were to be abolished, yet demand and supply of animals were at the same rate, then almost the entire planet would be hosting animal agriculture. Livestock produce 130 times the amount of waste as humans produce a year within the USA [23]. 91% of Amazon deforestation is due to clearing forests for cattle raising [24]. 150-200 species go extinct everyday and on average of 137 of these species go extinct due to animal agriculture [25]. The average vegan requires 1/18th the land as a meat eater requires, and has half the carbon footprint [26, 27].

Harm to animals and flaws of most animal liberation approaches:

On top of harm to biodiversity, increase in greenhouse gases, and harm to human health, animal agriculture harms animals. We ought to be concerned with non-human animals having good lives as well as humans if we care about those animals. However, we must also make important demarcations between humans and non-humans. Humans are capable of ethical deliberation and systems of rights and duties. Non-human animals do not have such abilities nor should we give them such responsibilities, and attempts to focus on their rights is a way of avoiding what our obligations should be to the nonhuman world. “Animal rights” is an incoherent position that, if applied consistently, would obligate us to save all animals from being eaten by other animals (the same way we would have an obligation to do so if they were humans), by extension destroying ecosystems and human and animal life on large scales. Human rights and duties, and the means required for them, can enable humans to live better lives, but animal rights do not enable animals to live better lives if we apply such principles consistently. Focusing on individual animals like traditional animal liberation leads to reductionism. This reductionism makes it so thinking ecologically is nearly impossible. If we focus on individual animals at the expense of the ecosystem we are all dependent upon we can ironically harm those individual animals we are trying to help. However, an ethical system that dissolves the ethical category of human is not only anti-human in effect, but anti-ecological because as proven earlier authoritarian and anti-social relations between humans and humans are the very roots of current ecological crises. To dissolve the category of human is to ignore the social roots and solutions of current ecological problems. We ought to focus on our obligation to the well-being of humans and the ecosystem we are dependent upon, and by extension our obligation towards helping the well-being of non-humans through stopping ecocidal practices and systems. We also ought to encourage supererogatory ethics based on minimizing harm towards non-humans for food (on top of the minimal social animal liberation program which is an ecological and non-hierarchical society).

A social animal liberation approach can be made through focusing on structural changes to production such as direct community management, localization, and de-commodification. A minimal program could be the reduction of animal agriculture by extremely large amounts (at least that which is required to ensure the integrity of the ecosystem we are dependent upon) with a maximal program of completely stopping the killing of animals for food unnecessarily, as well as animal cruelty more generally. The minimum/maximum programs for social animal liberation could be accomplished through appealing to the human right to well-being. This right is infringed upon by animal agriculture through the damage animal agriculture does to the ecosystem we are dependent upon, as well as care and concern about the well-being of non-human animals. Although human liberation from hierarchy is at the root of harmful human-non-human relations, there is a degree of animal liberation necessary for ecological integrity. This should be accompanied by a cultural shift to one where people tend not to accept killing animals that feel in order to eat when there are other options. The de-commodification of food should be accompanied by cultural and educational shifts in regards to what we value, otherwise we will use that which is finite in a way that produces avoidable scarcity, harm to human health, harm to non-human animals, and the destruction of biodiversity and eco resilience.

Property, the Commons, Communal Governance, and Institutional/Constitutional Ethics:

On top of rejecting socioeconomic hierarchy as anti-human, anti-ecological, and harmful to non-human animals, it is essential to find alternative political economies to combinations of central planning and markets. Artificial ecological problems, rather than being periodic, are institutional, and require us to think long term and holistically, rather than reductively in scenic disaster scenarios. One person owning and driving a fossil-fueled car, eating a hamburger daily and living a relatively fossil fuel intensive life would surely not harm the environment, but billions of people doing such behaviors would. We must go beyond a mere lifestyle ethics. We ought to develop institutions and constitutions that are able to achieve social freedom and by extension virtues and well-being of life. From the right to human well-being and the obligation to ensure other people have such a right, other rights/obligations follow that create a coherent system conducive to human well-being. By extension they create the flourishing of the ecosystems humans are dependent upon, and the well-being of non-human animals. If one is serious about achieving certain end goals, one must be serious about the means necessary to achieve such ends including motives intentions, rules, institutions, constitutions, acts, etc. To actually achieve sustainable pleasure, the means and ends of social freedom and virtues must intertwine and develop over time to create fecund well-being.

Property rights are relations between a person (or persons), another person (or persons), and a thing (or things). By extension property rights deal with not only how we relate to each other, but how we relate to our our environment. Usufruct is a form of property relations that bounds ownership by use; it encompasses both the right to usership and the obligation to make sure others have that right, and the means required for that right (such as ecological integrity). Usufruct could and should be a standard that enables communities to directly govern the commons, persons to directly govern personal possessions, and collectives to self-manage collectives. The developmental boundaries of use and decentralized, confederated, and regional planning make it so everyone has a direct stake in management of what they manage while immersed in the qualitative experience of developmental free association and virtuous intentional volition. When care for others is present, social and ecological concern is present, given we have an awareness of the relationship between societies and ecosystems. Political and economic central planners who try to maintain their positions of power over others have a stake in disempowering the people they govern, and the process of doing so is anti-social and anti-ecological.

A constitution can and should exist that formalizes a minimum standard of ethics. It should hold people accountable based on rights and obligations that are based on free association, as well as the means required to do so such as an irreducible minimum (the necessities of life or the means of existence). It should give the right to directly participate in political economic processes without rulers as well as the obligation to make sure other people have that right. Direct community management of the commons is a means towards post scarcity, which is the use of finite resources to make it so there is enough, using eco-technology uninhibited by hierarchical political economies.

The institutions that ought to exist for governing political economies should be directly democratic community assemblies bounded by the limits of free association and non-hierarchical constitutions. Direct democracy enables us to collaborate towards cooperative goals and solve incompatible preferences through a preference satisfaction ethic while bounded by rules without rulers. Decentralization alone can allow for extreme parochialism. Not every problem is just local. And pure and complete self-sufficiency and independence is not desirable compared to communal interdependence based on sharing within and between communes and communes of communes. The individualist goal of “pure independence” is illusory, due to the social dimension of knowledge required for various degrees of independence, and the fact that we are dependent upon our global ecosystem and each other. The question is how we ought to organize given those facts rather than how to invent delusions to avoid them. This is why it is necessary that the direct governance systems confederate. The directly democratic governance systems should be on neighborhood, sub-municipal, municipal, and regional levels while policy power will remain in the hands of people directly [41]. The principles of localization and decentralization when complimented by interdependence and confederation enable more community resilience and ecological resilience, as different communities act as each other’s “safety nets,” minimizing social problems (and by extension ecological problems) through managing the commons at different scales.

Administration has the potential to be delegated from the bottom upwards with policy-making power remaining on the bottom level. Delegates from administrations can be mandated & recallable by policy-making bodies and accountable to policy-making bodies. Bureaucracy professionalizes policy-making, whereas non-bureaucratic administration can implement only what it is delegated to do. Non-bureaucratic administration incentivizes the efficiency of the task at hand, whereas bureaucracy incentivizes calls for more power over others through the process of maintenance of power over others. Bureaucracy lacks direct and immediate accountability, places policy power beyond the realm of direct participation of scaled levels of political economic governance, and has a tendency to “feed on itself” and expand.

The content of decisions should be based on the compassionate use of reason and technology towards the goals of developing freedom, virtues, well-being of sentient life and the flourishing of the ecosystems sentient life is dependent upon and developed out of. This should be assisted by experts in given fields, and interactive resource calculators that show available technology, resources, as well as carrying capacity of scalable regions and regeneration rates, and developmental relations of life to life and non-life.

The means of non-hierarchical communal management lead towards those ends. The municipalization of political economies is based on meeting peoples’ needs, while decentralizing decision-making power and building the very organizational model that we should have in a future society before/during/after a transformation of society. Rather than merely creating an intentional community in some distant or particularistic place like many utopians, this process calls for the intentional communalization of communities. A current example of this model can be seen in Rojava, where 3.5 million+ people have organized non-hierarchically and directly democratically for over 4 years while fighting ISIS and Turkey [44].

Social Virtue ethics:

We need a society that fosters virtues rather than vices given the desired goal of well-being. Such character traits will enable us to care in a rational way and have the means to give to our society and the global ecosystem, which will enable us to have a society/ecosystem that enables a prudent sense of well-being.

Hierarchical political economies that have legalized free speech enable money to buy speech [47]. This leads to hierarchs being able to own “the loudest megaphones” which can be used to propagandize to those they rule over. The extreme lack of an even playing field for ideas leads to ignorance rather than wisdom. Hierarchical political economies create contexts that inhibit compassion and fuel the flames of non-empathy in the upper castes [48]. Abuse and unmet needs, directly from hierarchies and indirectly from hierarchies, foster addiction rather than temperance [49]. Hierarchies foster appeals to authority rather than wisdom and compassion. Rewards- and vengeance-based education and non-participatory education foster obedience to authority and a lack of intrinsic motivation towards education. Participatory education fosters intrinsic motivation and the burden of proof placed on authority [50, 51]. Cooperative goals, systems, and interpersonal relations foster friendliness rather than competitive self-maximization. Competitive self-maximization is based on wanting others to do worse [52] and has ecocidal consequences. Interpersonal competition creates “low self-worth” which in turn generates more competition, fostering everything from parasitic egoism to cowardice, rather than a healthy sense of self-worth and respect [52]. Self-worth and respect minimizes consumption for the sake of status.

Given the goal of ecological resilience and social self-management, we ought to foster characters that put the burden of proof on rules and that have intrinsic motivation to align with ethical and rational rules while abolishing unethical and irrational ones. Quoting Alfie Kohn, “If… the goal is to help students grow into compassionate, principled people, then having students “define the real meaning” of rules is the best way — perhaps the only way — that a list of rules prepared by the teacher can help students become thoughtful decision makers. But such an arrangement can only do so much: it is far better to ask children to create the rules.” [53]. And in familial relations, society, and the classroom, we should use a restorative justice approach and a harm reduction approach rather than a vengeance based model to enforce rules that harmonize to create conditions of social freedom. Such an approach reduces recidivism, doubles offenses brought to justice, reduces post traumatic stress, provides both victims & offenders more satisfaction than retributive models, reduces desire for revenge, and fosters intrinsic motivation, rather than only wanting to follow rules out of fear of getting caught [51, 54]. This should be accompanied by a transformative justice approach, based on transforming society and individuals in a participatory way to minimize harm and foster social freedom and virtues. Eco-technology, the automation of menial labor, a guaranteed minimum, as well as a participatory society, will enable people to foster their own virtues and their own hobbies and develop artfulness in arts they wish to explore.

Virtue ethics calls for a moderation of character traits that harmonize to create the good life. This can be distinguished from vague calls for “maximization” by capitalism, which calls for the maximization of profit at the expense of humans, life, & ecosystems, and vague calls for “maximization” of pleasure by hedonistic utilitarianism. A non-egoistic utilitarian, that is a utilitarian who does not value their own pleasure at the expense of the well-being of others, should prefer the virtuous life to a pleasureful life precisely because of the abilities of virtues to foster well-being among humans and non-humans. A “social virtue ethics” should focus on what virtues we ought to foster to achieve a good society, what society best fosters virtues, the participatory dimension to fostering such virtues, more universal virtues, and an understanding of how virtues develop over time/space. Social freedom is not a “maximization of rights and a minimization of obligations” but a process of developing virtuous, intentional volition based on non-hierarchical rights and non-hierarchical obligations. It is individuals and groups harmonizing through diversity bounded by non-hierarchical principles. Well-being ought to be achieved through a “social virtue ethics” or a “freedom ethics”, as opposed to calls for act utilitarianism which can rationalize murdering a random person and taking their organs to save five lives. Well-being, social freedom, and virtues are an intertwined ethical metric because: Social freedom → virtues → social freedom, virtues → social freedom → virtues, social freedom → prudent well-being, and virtues → prudent well-being.

The fostering of virtues such as wisdom and compassion enable us to intelligently care and act and give back to our global human society and ecosystem that we are dependent upon. Doing so will enable us to get closer to prudent well-being, enable us to have the intelligence and compassion required to be stewards of our ecosystems rather than plunderers, as well as provide “forms of freedom” with compassionate and intelligent content.

Beyond not Harming, Towards Ecohumanism:

Humans are not inherently parasitic towards the ecosystems we are dependent upon. Humans have the potential to be consciously mutualistic towards ecosystems and non-human animals. One does not need to be an anthropocentrist to see the actuality in some humans, and potentiality in others, for intentional, rational care that goes beyond all other organisms we know of. Seed-saving enables us to improve agricultural biodiversity, and to preserve non-artificial genomes as well [28, 29, 45, 46]. Seed banks can be scaled on various levels of community, enabling resilient responses to potential, artificial, and non-artificial disasters. Seed banks can even be adapted to particular environments and probable environments of areas that they are stored near. We also have the potential to help minimize harm from non-artificial disasters through saving and sheltering non-human animals. The unique abilities humans have to use applied knowledge gives us a potential to stop non-artificial harm. We must get away from naturalistic fallacies that conflate “that which is” and “that which is natural” with “that which should be”. This potential for us to help non-humans would not halt the evolutionary process, but become a part of the evolutionary process, as evolution gives birth to beings that intentionally become defense systems of the Earth and catalysts of ecosystems & the gradations of freedom and pleasure created by ecosystems. Humans have the ability to stop a killer asteroid through many methods [30]. Out of every organism on the planet, humans have the best cognitive abilities to deal with artificial and non-artificial disasters our global ecosystem will face in the future. Veterinary medicine can be applied to wildlife to alleviate non-human suffering [31, 55]. Mycoforestry can enable us to reforest destroyed forest ecosystems [37]. We also have the potential to seed life on other planets and spread life throughout the universe. Directed panspermia is possible with current technology [38], and it ought to be done carefully through life being directed towards places that are not likely to have life. This will allow humans to be catalysts for spreading life support systems throughout the universe, as well as stewards of the Earth. Social freedom → ecological resilience, virtues → ecological resilience, social freedom → animal welfare, and virtues → animal welfare.

The Harmony of Human Freedom, Virtues, and well-being, Nonhuman well-being, and the Ecosystem life is dependent upon:

The development of social freedom and virtues that enable prudent human well-being are interwoven with ecological resilience, biodiversity, well-being of non-human animals, and the ending of climate change and artificial species extinction which are caused by hierarchy and ignorance. Rather than thinking reductively, we must think ecologically and developmentally to solve ecological problems. Artificial ecological disasters are not periodic; they are institutional and require institutional solutions. To think ecologically is not to focus on the particular at the expense of the whole. It is through seeing the whole as more than the sum of its parts that we can actually achieve prudent goals. The potential in the evolutionary process to move towards self-organization [39, 40], intentional volition, subjectivity, interdependence, and intentional mutualism give us a primordial ethical blueprint through which humans can construct ethical systems that enable the flourishing of these potentialities [58]. By extension, it gives us ethical significance as not just beings that can feel pleasure and pain, but as “nature rendered self-conscious” and as free and virtuous ethical agents capable of embodying these potentialities, unlike any particular life form we know, and of embedding the world with theoretical and applied ethics through reason and compassion. It is through us getting closer to fulfilling such potentialities (which are by no means inevitable) that human and non-human well-being can flourish, as well as the ecological web we are dependent upon. The hierarchical roots of artificial ecological destruction, of harmful human and non-human relations, and of avoidable human suffering must be destroyed rather than merely be reformed, unless of course we want to cut off one head of the hydra only for another to grow. Prudent human well-being, and the means and ends that achieve such ends, such as virtues and social freedom, would help the ecosystems we are dependent upon to flourish, and by extension help non-human animals and humans. Abstaining from animal cruelty and the killing sentient of animals to eat when it is not necessary to do so is beneficial to human health and ecological resilience as well as nonhuman well-being and freedom. In this sense, prudent flourishing of one of the above metrics (human well-being/virtues/social freedom, ecological resilience, and non-human well-being) is by extension the prudent flourishing of all of the above.

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