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The Washington Post is right to shine a light on the connection between hunting and our environment, a connection that is breaking down as Americans lose interest in hunting. With the decline in hunting comes a decrease in conservation funding from hunting licenses, firearms permits, and more, with wildlife and environmental agencies suffering the consequences.

This trend screams for a paradigm change in the way humans think about — and make efforts to care for — the environment. We must establish a new paradigm for future generations of valuing nonhumans for more than their ability to kill them.

Prevailing Attitudes Toward the Environment

The old paradigm is centered on the idea that the “environment is just a human resource.” This thinking treats the environment as part of a world economy and considers it valuable only if people assign value to it, like any other commodity we buy and sell. This myopic, anthropocentric thinking helped create the climate crisis and the other ecological crises that now threaten our children and future generations.

Codifying the Human Right to Nature

What does the shift from this old way look like? It looks like recognizing our fundamental human right to nature. This right rises above and cabins the subjectivity of markets and human shortsightedness. It looks like institutionalizing that right in law.

That paradigm shift is now before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a suit challenging the government’s total abdication of its most basic duties by failing to mitigate, and in many cases by exacerbating, the climate crisis. We have a right to nature — and seeing it is the paradigm shift toward having a truly symbiotic, nonviolent relationship with the ecology that keeps us alive.

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