Animal Rights and Environmental Inequality

Animal Rights and Environmental Inequality

I’m pleased to have a chapter on Nonhuman Animal rights included in the Handbook on Inequality and the Environment, edited by Michael A. Long, Michael J. Lynch, and Paul B. Stretesky (under whom I studied as a PhD student at Colorado State University). This chapter reviews the concept of Nonhuman Animal rights in the context of environmental inequality.

Historically the environmental inequality discourse has centered the human experience, although a number of environmental injustices have impacted human and nonhuman minorities in intersecting ways and Nonhuman Animals are arguably the largest minority group harmed. The assault on nonhuman communities, for that matter, is a lead driver of climate change. The exclusion of Nonhuman Animal constituencies, therefore, is not only a scientific oversight, but also a serious ethical inconsistency.

Vegan feminist theory is introduced to address the anthropocentric intersectional failure that typifies mainstream environmental justice efforts, arguing that the false divide erected between nature and civilization has historically abstracted freeliving Nonhuman Animals within larger conversations about ecosystems and species, undermining their individual rights. This divide also makes little space for domesticated animals who are neither categorized as part of nature (being human constructs), nor civilization (as animals), despite their considerable capacity to benefit from environmental justice initiatives. Environmental justice must balance the individual rights of nonhumans, ecosystem needs, and the intersectional experiences of humans and other animals to truly embody its aims to rectify and redress environmental inequalities and to effectively incorporate the aims of Nonhuman Animal rights for a sustainable and fair multispecies society.

Read the chapter here.

Cover for "A Rational Approach to Animal Rights." Shows a smiling piglet being held up by human hands.

Readers can learn more about Nonhuman Animal rights in my 2016 publication, A Rational Approach to Animal Rights.
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