Gregor Wolbring

Eco-ableism: Enabling and disabling the ecosystem

 By, Wolbring Gregor


Every individual, household, community, group, sector, region, and country cherishes and promotes different abilities. Some promote the ability to consume or to compete, some the ability of free speech, some the ability to act as an individual or conversely, as a community. Some have the desire to have the ability to live in peace while others thrive on the ability to generate violence.  Ableism leads to an ability based and ability justified understanding of oneself, one’s body and one’s relationship with others of one’s species, other species and one’s environment.  What abilities one favours and what ableisms one exhibits impacts how one perceives oneself, how one is perceived by others, how one relates to other species, and it also impacts human-nature relationships. Different forms of ableism enable different ism’s such as racism, sexism, cast-ism., ageism., speciesism., anti-environmentalism., GDP-ism and consumerism. Furthermore ableism as such does not have to be negative. It could be used to put forward positive actions (e.g. if one cherishes the ability to live in harmony, if one cherishes the ability to live equitable with others). Anthropocentric and biocentric visions of human-nature relationship exhibit different set of ability expectations and forms of ableism.

This paper will highlight ableism as it relates to disabled people, animals and nature.  This paper will especially look at the impact of the increasing ability of science and technology to modify humans (genetic enhancement), animals (genetic enhancement) and nature (geoengineering) and the shift in ability expectations that are linked to the changing abilities of science and technology products and the impact this might have on how humans animals and nature relate.


Gregor Wolbring is an Associate Professor; University of Calgary, Faculty of Medicine, Community Health Sciences, Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies; Fellow: Institute for Science, Policy and Society, University of Ottawa, Canada; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Faculty of Critical Disability Studies, York  University Canada; Part Time Professor Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, Canada  and Founding Member and Affiliated Scholar, Center for Nanotechnology and Society at Arizona State University, USA. He is the former President of the Canadian Disability Studies Association.


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