Millennium Assessment reinscribes binary

As disturbing and useful the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) might be, because it is framed around "ecosystem services" provided to humans," non-human "species and ecosystems" (p. v) are produced as a "objects" rather than "subjects" (Berry & Tucker, 2006, p. 17) and relations between human and non-human Other are established in terms of use value. As such, the report provides another instance of anthropocentrism, and reinscription of the socially constructed human/nature dualism.


While in the introductory sections, the report does acknowledge that "species and ecosystems" do have intrinsic value (2005, p. v), this one sentence is not enough to disrupt the powerful linguistic production of Earth as simply a provider of 'services,' which is how it is referred to throughout the rest of the Report. As Evernden (1993) notes, even the field of ecology undercuts its own attempts to preserve: "To describe a tree as an oxygen-producing device or a bog as a filtering agent is equally violent, equally debasing to being itself" (p. 23).


In their attempts to disrupt ongoing anthropogenic environmental change, the authors of the Report have not taken into account the power and effect of discourses of environmental management, reductionist Western science, and the focus on the environment for human use which pervade both the rest of the report and much of Western culture. This nod to "intrinsic value" is simply not enough to disrupt these dominant storylines which support a relationship of control and make it difficult to foreground "considerations of the intrinsic value of species and ecosystems" (Millenium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005, p. v).