Environmentalists engage many causes. They work on behalf human rights, poverty alleviation, and democracy as well as endangered species, a stable climate, and clean air, water, and soil. Amidst these diverse efforts, environmentalists maintain a fundamental commitment to nature. They see their job, to one degree or another, as standing up for the conservation, preservation, and sustainability of the nonhuman world. This dimension of environmentalism finds its roots in the West, especially Britain and the United States,1 but has since become part of almost every social expression of environmental concern. Today, even the most human-centered environmental organizations—those focused on, for example, environmental justice, sustainable development, and industrial ecology—concentrate on nature insofar as they see a healthy natural world as a prerequisite for human well-being or a medium through which injustices are perpetrated. Indeed, since environmentalism’s beginnings in the nineteenth century, when people began worrying about industrialization despoiling rural and...

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