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Environmental Ethics

Volume 22, Issue 4, Winter 2000

David Schmidtz
Pages 397-408

Natural Enemies
An Anatomy of Environmental Conflict

Sometimes people act contrary to environmentalist values because they reject those values. This is one kind of conflict: conflict in values. There is another kind of conflict in which people act contrary to environmentalist values even though they embrace those values: because they cannot afford to act in accordance with them. Conflict in priorities occurs not because people’s values are in conflict, but rather because people’s immediate needs are in conflict. Conflict in priorities is not only an environmental conflict, but also often an economic conflict—a conflict rooted in differing economic circumstance. Such a conflict cannot be resolved as an environmental conflict unless it is also resolved as an economic one.

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