environmental worldviews, ethics

environmental worldviews, ethics - 2 8 ENVIRONMENTAL...

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Unformatted text preview: 2 8 ENVIRONMENTAL WO‘RLDVIEWS, ETHICS, AND SUSTAINABILITY Biosphere 2: A Lesson in Humility ' In 1991, eight Scientists (four men and four women) were sealed into Biosphere 2, a $200—million facility designed to be a self-sustaining life-support system designed to mimic the earth’s nutrient-cycling sys— tems (Figure 28-1). The project, financed with private venture capital, was designed to (1) provide information and experi- ence in designing self-sustaining stations in space or on the Moon or other planets and (2) increase our understanding of the earth’s biosphere: Biosphere 1. The 1.3-hectare (3.2—acre) closed and sealed sys— tem was built in the desert near Tucson, Arizona. It had a variety of ecosystems, each built from Scratch. They included a tropical rain forest, lakes, a desert, streams, freshwater and saltwater wetlands, and a mini—ocean with a coral reef. The facility was stocked with more than 4,000 species of plants, animals, and microorganisms selected to maintain ecosystem functions. It also had living quarters for its crew, who would get their food from intensive Organic farming, raising a few goats and chickens, and fish farming in ponds and tanks. Energy was provided by sunlight and external nat- ural gas-powered generators. The Biospherians were supposed to be isolated for 2 years and to (1) raise their own food, (2) breathe air recirculated by plants, and (3) drink water cleansed by natural nutrient-cycling processes. From a v‘vIfiSw v n AU :9 $9933“ ‘ - Wye. m ' fixaaggfizem. , . the beginning they encountered numerous unex- pected problems. The life—support system began unraveling. When some oxygen disappeared mysteriously, more had to be pumped in from the outside to keep the Biospheri— ans from suff0cating. The nitrogen and carbon cycling systems also failed to function properly. Levels of nitrous oxide _ rose high enough :co threaten the occupants with brain damage and had to be controlled by outside interven— tion. Carbon dioxide skyrocketed to levels that threat— ened to poison the humans and spurred the growth of ' weedy Vines that choked out food crops. Nutrients leached from the soil and polluted the water systems. Tropical birds disappeared after the first freeze. An Arizona ant Species got into the enclosure, prolif— erated, and killed off all other soft-bodied insects. After the majority of the introduced insect species i became extinct, the facility was overrun with cock— roaches and katydids. All together, 19 of the Biosphere’s 25 small animal -- -Species became extinct. Before the 2~year period was up all plant-pollinating insects became extinct, thereby _‘_ dooming to extinction most of the plant species. Scien— tists Joel Cohen and David Tilman, who evaluated u the project, concluded, “No one yet knows how to engineer systems that provide humans with life-sup- porting services that natural ecosystems provide for free." In other words, an expenditure of $200 million _ failed to maintain a life-support system for eight peoa _.;" pie. The earth—Biosphere l—does this every day for 6.1 billion people-and millions of other species at no i cost. If we had to pay for these services at the same annual cost of $12.5 million per person in Biosphere 2, the total bill for the earth’s 6.1 billion people w0uld be 1,900 times the annual world national product. - This world’s largest ecological lab- oratory is now used by Columbia Uni- versity’s Lamont—Doherty Earth Observatory to carry-out climate and ecological research. -- - - ' L231.» -C :.=.-: i -: Figure 28—1 Biosphere 2,-constructed near ' Tucson, Arizona, was designed to be a self— sustaining life—support system for eight people " sealed into the facility in 1991. The experiment _' failed because of a breakdown in its nutrient cycling systems. (Stone/Russell Kaye) ~LL¢...:. Llliu. . I. :i.:'. :.i The main iizgrci/imtx Uftlll environmental utllic are curng about the planet and till ()fith inhabitants, til/owing lilijt’ifiS/IIIL’SS to control t/Ii' immc'iliiitc sci/iiiztt‘rcst i’lmt Imrms others, and living car/z itin- so as to leave the [is/111M possible fbotprints on the planet. ROBliit'i' C.—\H_\‘ This chapter addresses the following questions: I What human—centered environmental worldviews guide most industrial societies? I What are some life-centered and earth—centered environmental worldviews? I What ethical guidelines might we use to help us work with the earth? I How can we live more sustainably? 28-1 ENVIRONMENTAL WORLDVIEWS IN INDUSTRIAL SOCIETIES How Shall We Live? A Clash of Cultures and Val- ues There are conflicting views about how serious our environmental problems are and what we should do about them. These conflicts arise mostly out of differ— ing environmental worldviews: (1) how people think the world works, (2) what they think their role in the world should be, and (3) what they believe is right and wrong environmental behavior (environmental ethics). People with widely differing environmental world- views can take the same data, be logically consistent, and arrive at quite different conclusions (Appendix 2) because they start with different assumptions and values. There are many different types of environmental worldviews, as summarized in Fig- ure 28-2. Most can be divided into two groups according to whether they are individual—centered (atom- istic) or earth—centered (holistic). Atomistic envir0nmenta1 world" views tend to be human—centered (anthropocentric) or life—centered (biocentric, with the primary focus on either individual species or individual organisms). Holis- tic or ec0centric environmental worldviews are either ecosystem— centered or biosphere (life-support system)—centered. .MW Atomistic Figure 28-2 General types of envi— ronmental worldviews. (Diagram developed by Jane Helnze—Fry) (individual-centered) Biocentric _ _' (life-centered) i What Is the Difference Between Instrumental and Intrinsic Values? How we act is determined largely by what we value. Environmental philosophers normally divide values into two types: instrLunental and intrinSic. An instrumental or utilitarian value is a value something has because of its usefulness to us or to the biosphere, for example. An intrinsic or inherent value is the value something has just because it exists, regard— less of whether it has any instrumental value to us. Most of us believe that human beings have intrin— sic value. However, there is much controversy over whether nonhuman forms of life and nature as a whole have intrinsic value. Many people View other species, forests, rocks and soil, rivers, biodiversity, and the bios— phere as having instrumental value based 0n how useful they are to us. For example, the concept of pre— serving natural capital and biodiversity because they sustain life and suppoit economies is an instrumental value based mostly on the usefulness of these natural goods and services to us. However, many people do not believe that the earth’s nonhuman species, biotic com— munities, ecosystems, biodiversity, and the biosphere have intrinSic value and thus should be protected merely because they exist. The view that a wild species, a biotic community ecosystem, biodiversity, or the biosphere has value Only because of its usefulness to us is called an anthropocen— tric (human-centered) instrumental value. According to an anthropocentric worldview, (1) humans have intrinsic value, (2) the rest of nature has instrumental value, and (3) we are in charge of the earth and can act as its masters or caretakers. Environmental Worldviews Holistic (earth-centered or ecocentric) .n On the other hand, the view that these forms of life are valuable simply because they exist, independently of their use to human beings, is called a biocentric (1ife~ centered) intrinsic value. According to a biocentric worldview, (1) all species and ecosystems and the bios- phere have both intrinsic and instrumental value, (2) we are just one of many species, and (3) we have an ethical responsibility not to impair the long‘term sustainability and adaptability of the earth’s natural systems for all life. What Are the Major Human-Centered Environ- mental Worldviews? Most people in today’s indus- trial consumer societies have a planetary management worldview, which has become increasingly common during the past 50 years. According to this human—cen- tered environmental worldview, human beings, as the planet’s most important and dominant species, can and should manage the planet mostly for their own benefit. Other species and parts of nature are seen as having only instrumental value based on how useful they are to us. The basic environmental beliefs of this worldview include the following: I We are the planet’s most important species, and we are apart from and in charge of the rest of nature. This idea crops up when people talk about “our” planet, “our” earth, or "saving the earth.” I There is always more. The earth has an essentially unlimited supply of resources for use by us through science and technology. If we deplete a resource, we will find substitutes. To deal with pollutants, we can invent technology to clean them up, dump them into space, or move into space ourselves. If we extinguish other species, we can use genetic engineering to cre— ate new and better ones. I All economic growth is good, and the potential for global economic growth is essentially limitless. I Our success depends on how well we can understand, control, and manage the earth's life—support systems for our benefit. All or most aspects of worldview are widely sup- ported because it is said to be the primary driving force behind the major improvements in the human condi- tion since the beginning of the industrial revolution (Appendix 2, left). There are several variations of this environmental worldview: I The no—problem school. There are no environmental, population, or resource problems that cannot be solved by more economic growth and development, better management, and better technology. I .Thefi‘ee—market school. The best way to manage the planet for human benefit is through a free—market global economy with minimal government interfer— ence and regulations. Free—market advocates worrld convert all public property resources to private prop— erty resources and let the global marketplace, gov- erned by pure free—market competition (p. 689), decide essentially everything. I The responsible planetary management school. We have serious environmental problems, but we can sustain our species with a mixture of market-based competition, better technology, and some government intervention that (1) promotes environmentally sus— tainable forms of economic development, (2) protects environmental quality and private property rights, and (3) protects and manages public and common property resources. People holding this view follow the pragmatic principle of enlightened self-interest: Bet— ter earth care is better self—care. I The spaceship—earth school. Earth is seen as a Space— ship: a complex machine that we can understand, dominate, change, and manage to prevent envirOn— mental overload and provide a good life for every— one. This view developed as a result of photographs taken from space showing the earth as a finite planet or island "floating" in space (Figure 5—1, p. 102). This powerful image led many people to see that the earth is our only home and that we had better treat it right. I The stewardship school. We have an ethical respon— sibility to be caring and responsible managers or stewards, of the earth. According to this view, we can and should make the world a better place for our species and other species through love, care, knowl- edge, and technology. 28-2 LIFE—CENTERED AND EARTH-CENTERED ENVIRONMENTAL WORLDVIEWS Can We Manage the Planet? Some people belieVe that any human—centered worldview will eventually fail because it wrongly assumes that we now have (or can gain) enough knowledge to become effective man— agers or stewards of the earth. These people argue that the unregulated global free-market approach will not work because it (1) is based on increased losses of natural capital (Figure 4—36, p. 99, and Figure 26-7, p. 694) that support all life and economies and (2) focuses on short-term economic benefits regardless of the harmful long-term environ- mental and social consequences (Guest Essay, right). 742 CHAPTER 28 Environmental Worldviews, Ethics, and Sustainability of Kansas and one of the founders of the new ' field ofenvironmental history. His books include Nature’s Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas; Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 19305; Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity, and the Growth of the American West; The Wealth of Nature: Environmental History, the Ecological Imagination, and a biography of scientist and explorer [Olin Wesley Powell. He has held numerous fellow- ships, lectured widely in the United States and abroad, and served on the board of the Land Institute and other environ— mental organizations. He believes that a fuller understanding of the history of the human relationship to nature is essential to efi'ectioe policy making and social change. Rapid economic growth over the past decade has pro- duced a rush of good feeling. The rich industrial nations feel liberated from the gloomy mood of the 1960s and 19708, when ominous signs of environmental collapse appeared at home and abroad. Political and economic leaders n0w regularly insist that there is no deep or real conflict between the ecology of the planet and the econ- omy of industrial capitalism. But the conflict is real, and it will not go away soon. l-lope, uncritical and unbounded, has been a persis— tent emotion throughout the modern period. The mar— ket, or capitalist, revolution, which began in earnest in the 18th century, came on a floodtide of extravagant promises. To be sure, it spoke the language of hard* headed realism, practical problem solving, and careful bookkeeping, but underneath that language lay a pow- erful utopian impulse that would not die. The new economics promised unlimited wealth and happiness. It maintained. that humans are capable of mass—producing their way to earthly paradise. Even greed, which the )‘udeo-Christian religion and others had singled out as the root of all. evil, went through a miraculous transformation into virtue. This new virtue would lead to new wealthwa wealth that would flow first to the most virtuous citizens and then to every other member of society. It is not a big leap from that historical revolution in values and institutions to the current panaceas of “free- market environmentalism.” Now we are told that the market economy offers the perfect solution to all resource depletion and pollution. If left unfettered, it will bring us greater efficiency and more benign substi- tutes: wood fibers that get recycled a hundred times or _ _ more, automobiles without tailpipes, and crops that___:_'_'_ need no pesticides. ' Private property, we hear repeatedly, is the best rema - edy for the tragedy of the commons, in which commu- nity property relations supposedly leads to land abuse. Privatizing all land, including national parks and forests, as well as the more elusive water or the ubiqui- tous air will lead to environmental responsibility. More wealth, the promise goes, will turn everybody into environmentalists. As money accumulates, societies will save their endangered species or clean up their streams. Poor people do not care about the earth; wealthy people do. Those beguiling claims are based on a too casual reading of modern history, which shows a more trou- bled, complicated relationship between environmental— ism and economic growth. Environmental reform generally has not come from those who have been most successful in the market: the Fortune 500 top executives in the present and their counterparts in the past. Like many reform m0vements, environmentalism has spread through increasing education and economic secu- rity. However, all along it has encountered unbending resistance Within the business community, which even today bankrolls heavily the anti-environmental lobby. EnVironmentalists have tried to reform, restrain, or even overthrOW the market economy because they have real- ized that its dominant ethos of acquisitive self—interest is a threat to the natural world. A careful reading of history shows that capitalism was not created to save the earth; it was created to turn nature into wealth, as fast and thoroughly as possible. Only a utopian would think that it can now be turned easily from exploitation to preservation or that eventu- ally, by its own dynamics, without change 01‘ reform, it will lead us into the Garden of Eden. We did not reach our current condition of widespread ecological crisis and degradation by a single, universal cause. Yet one fact is striking: A vast acceleration in environmental change, much of it very damaging, began in the 18th century, exactly during the period when the market revolution was gathering momentum. That revolution did not reach the United States in full force until 1830. From that point on, we can easily trace its bad effects. Air and water pollution began to show up, first in the larger cities, then across the cormtry. Vast populations of plant and animal life diminished or even disappeared. Resource consumption shot up dramati- cally. Soils washed away at an unprecedented rate. Behind that acceleration of destructive change lay the rise of capitalism, its free—market ideology, and its cornu- copian vision of endless wealth. Since the work of economist Adam Smith, nature has not been included in the accounting system of capitalism [Figure 26-6, p. 693]. Capital has referred only to the money an entrepreneur could amass and invest. It has not included the natural capital of the planet, the diverse - ecosystems on which all life depends [Figure 4—36, p. 99, and Guest Essay, p. 6]. '- H GUEST ESSAY-(continued).- Consequently, most people accumulating wealth do not believe that they owe anything to nature, to the vast and intricate web of life, and to future generations. That narrowing of value and. obligation lies at the very core of modern economic culture. This culture has been aston— ishingly powerful and creative‘but also profoundly dis— ruptive to both society and the natural world. We can argue over whether the market revolution has, on balance, been good or bad for people [Appen— dix 2]. Some of its promises have been realized; others have not. We can see around us an extraordinary increase in consumer goods, from foodstuffs to tele- phones, spreading even into the poorest households. We can also see an increase in social ills, caused largely by huge disparities of income and power that have resulted. But whether the revolution has been a curse or bless- ing for humanity, for nature it has been a disaster. The costs have far outweighed the benefits. After two cen- turies of growth, the world has lost an immense portion of its natural capital—soils, groundwater, forests, grass— lands, and species—and is Sure to lose more. Largely because of the market revolution, the human population has increased more than sixfold; the impact of those numbers has turned large stretches of the planet into a wasteland. For all the material gains it has brOught to our species, the market revolution is unsuss tainable ecologically. The giddy mood we are experiencing today will not last, nor will the notion of the market, privatization, or business profit as a panacea. When the current mood passes, we will get back to hard reality and tough choices. It will become obvious once more that only a profound. change in the nature of capitalism will make it more environmentally friendly——a change so profound as to constitute another revolution. Critical Thinking Explain why you agree or disagree with the Viewpoint presented by the author of this essay. The image of the earth as an island or Spaceship in space has played an important role in raising global environmental awareness. However, critics argue that thinking of the earth as a spaceship that we should and can manage is an oversimplified and misleading way to view an incredibly complex and ever—changing planet, as the failure of Biosphere 2 demonstrated (p. 740). For example, these critics point out that we do not even know how many species live on the earth, much less what their roles are and how they interact with one another and their nonliving environment. We have only an inkling of what goes on in a handful of soil, a meadow, a patch of forest, a pond, or any other part of the earth. - As biologist David Ehrenfeld puts it, "In no impor- tant instance have we been able to demonstrate com- prehensive Successful management of the world, nor do we understand it well enough to manage it even in theory.” Environmental educator David Orr (Guest Essay, p. 683) says we are losing rather than gaining the knowledge and wisdom needed to adapt creatively to continually changing envirOnmental conditions: "On balance, I think, we are becoming more ignorant because we are losing cultural knowledge about how to inhabit our places on the planet sustainably, while impoverishing the genetic knowledge accumulated through millions of years of evolution.” Even if we had enough knowledge and wisdom to manage spaceship earth, some critics see this approach as requiring us to give up individual freedom to survive. Life on spaceship earth under a compre- hensive system of planetary management or world gov— ernment might be very much like the regimented life of astronauts in their capsule. The astronauts have almost no individual freedom; essentially all of their actions are dictated by a central command (ground control). What Are Some Major Biocentric and Ecocentric Worldviews? People disagree over how far we should extend our ethical cencerns for various forms or levels of life (Figure 28-3). Critics of human-centered environmental worldviews believe that such world- views should be expanded to recognize the inherent value of all forms of life. According to this view, all species are part of a community of living things and have just as much right to exist as humans do. In other words, each species has intrinsic value unrelated to its potential or actual use to us. Most peOple with a life-centered (biocentric) world— view believe that we have an ethical re5ponsibility to (1) not cause the premature extinction of a species and (2) actively protect a species from going extinct because of our activities. Some people believe that each individual organ— ism, not just each species, has an inherent right to sur— vive. SQme apply this only to animal species and others only to animal species that are believed to be capable of having feelings. . ' However, most people give protection of a species priority over protection of an individual member of a species. The reason is that when an individual of a "species dies, another one replaces it, but when a species becomes biologically extinct, its genetic lin- eage ends. Each Species is a unique store~ house of genetic information that (1) should be respected and protected because it exists ‘ (intrinsic value), (2) is a potential economic good for human use (instrumental value), and (3) is capable through evolution and spe— ciation of adapting to changing environmen- tal conditions. In this sense, (1) individuals are temporary representatives of a species, and (2) the premature extinction of a species can be regarded as killing future generations of a species and eliminating its possibility for future evolutionary adaptation or speciation. Trying to decide whether all or only some Species should be protected from premature extinction resulting from human activities is a difficult and. controversial ethical problem. It is hard to know where to draw the line and be ethically consistent. For example: I Should all species be protected from prema— ture extinction because of their intrinsic value, or shorild only certain ones be preserved because of their known or potential instru— mental value to us or to their ecosystems? I Should all insect and bacterial species be protected, or should we attempt to extermi- nate those that eat our crops, harm us, or transmit disease organisms? I Should we emphasize protecting keystone species (p. 178) in ecosystems over other species that play lesser ecological roles? Others believe that we must go beyond this biocentric worldview, which focuses on species and individual organisms. They con— tend that it is not just a species that we should preserve (for example, in a 200 or arboretum) but a species in a functioning ecosystem (Fig- ure 28-3). They believe that we have an ethi- cal reSponsibility not to degrade the earth’s ecosystems, biodiversity, and life—support sys— tems (biosphere) for this and future genera— tions of humans (Connections, p. 746) and other forms of life based on their intrinsic and instrumental values. In other words, they have an earth—centered, or ecocentric, environ- mental worldview, devoted to preserving the earth’s biodiversity and the functioning of its life-support systems (Figure 28-3) for all forms of life. . . ‘ Why should we care about the earth’s biodiversity? According to environmentalist and. systems expert Donella MeadoWs. Biosphere Biodiversity (Earth's genes, species, and ecosystems) —g_ Ecosystems it Community and friends Figure 23-3 Levels of ethical concern. Peopée dls~ agree over how far we should extend out ethical concerns on this scale. Biodiversity contains the accumulated wis— dom of nature and the key to its future. If you wanted to destroy a society, you would burn its libraries and kill its intellectuals. You would destroy its knowledge. Nature’s knowledge is contained in the DNA within living cells. The variety of genetic informa— tion is the driving engine of evolution and the source of adaptability. According to the ecocentric worldview, we are part of, riot apart from, the commu~ nity of life and the ecological processes that sustain all life. Aldo Leopold (p. 39) summed up this idea in 1948: "All ethics rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a mem- ber of a community of interdependent parts.” There are many life-centered and earth- centered environmental worldviews, and several of them overlap in some of their beliefs. One ecocentric environmental worldview is the environmental-wisdom worldview. It is based on the following major beliefs, which are the opposite of those making up the planetary manage- ment worldview: I We are part of nature, and nature does not exist just for us. We need the earth, but the earth does not need us (Guest Essay, p. 750). Each species has an inherent right to exist. I There is not always more. The earth’s resources are limited, should not be wasted, and should be used efficiently and sustain- ably for us and all other species. I Some forms of technology and economic growth are environmentally beneficial and should be encouraged, but some are environ— mentally harmful and should be discouraged. I Our success depends on (1) learning how the earth sustains itself and adapts to ever- changing environmental conditions and (2) integrating such scientific lessons from nature (environmental wisdom) into the ways we think and act (Solutions, p. 209). A related ecocentric environmental worldview is the deep ecology worldview, Some people believe that our Only ethical oblig— . . 1 ation is to the pre— CONNECTIONS ‘ sent human -- -- - -' ‘ generation. They ask, "What has the future done for me?” or believe that we cannot know enough about the condition of the earth for future generations to be concerned about it. According to biologist David W. Ehrenfeld, caring about future gen~ erations enough not to degrade the earth’s life-support systems is important because it gives future generations options for dealing With the problems they will face. He points out that if our ancestors had left for us the ecological degra— dation we appear to be leaving our descendants, our options for enjoy- ment—perhaps even for survival-— would be quite limited And in response to the question, “What can future generations do for us?” Ehrenfeld gives the follonu ing answer: "They give us a reason for treating our ecological home respectfully, so that our lives as well as theirs will be enriched.” According to this view, as we use the earth's natural resources we (1) are borrowing from the earth and from future generations and (2) have an ethical responsibility to leave the earth in as good or better shape than it is now for future gen— fl-Whrjtsheuld _-Wé"chré.3'.Abdfit'Ffime - Erations. In thinking aboth our responsibility toward future gener~ ations, some analysts believe that we should consider the wisdom given to us in the 18th century by the Iroquois Confederation of Native Americans: In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations. Critical Thinking What obligations, if any, concerning the environment do you have to future genierations? To how many future generations do you have responsibilities? Be honest about y0ur feelings. which recognizes both the intrinsic and instrumen— tal values of species, ecosystems, and the biosphere (Spotlight, p. 748). These and other life-centered and earth—centered environmental worldviews have their roots in the ways of life of many primal peoples that have had respect for other forms of life. Earth~wisd0m principles have also been articulated by Saint Francis of Assisi, Benedict de Spinoza, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir, Aldo Leopold (p. 39), Rachel Carson (p. 36), Alan Watts, Gary Snyder, Charles Reich, Theodore Roszak, Arne Naess (devel- Oper of what is called the deep ecology Worldview, Spot- light, p. 748), Bill Devall, George Sessions, and many others. Many of the basic ideas of these worldviews are also found in teachings of Hinduism, Taoism, Islam, Confucianism, Buddhism, and the Iudeo—Christian tra- dition. Various biocentric and ecocentric environmene tal worldviews also emphasize beliefs found in the ecoferninism, social ecology, and environmental justice movements (Guest Essay, p. 727). Much of modern ecocentric ethics rests on the prin— ciples developed in the 19405 by Aldo Leopold (p. 39). One his major ethical principles is, "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when‘it tends otherwise.” I Some analysts point out that shifts in the principles of contemporary ecology may invalidate Leopold’s - land ethic or require that it be updated. According to modern ecological theory, instead of a static "balance of ' nature” that should be conserved and preserved, nature is in dynamic, ever-changing state of flux. If such a model is correct, it is not possible to preserve the integrity and stability of a biotic community. Some ecologists say that the way out of this is to consider the time period, or temporal scale, and the size, or spatial scale, being affected by human ecological impacts. Violent natural disturbances such as volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, floods, and droughts occur every now and then and took place long before the human species appeared on the evo— lutionary scene. In general, these natural disturbances occur infre~ quently and affect small areas of the earth’s surface in widely spaced areas. Natural global and regional changes such as climate change and the spread and retreat of glaciers that can affect large areas of the earth’s surface take place slowly on a human time scale, over thousands to millions of years. In contrast, human ecological disturbances such as clear-cutting, agriculture, urban development, and overharvesting of fish and other natural resources gen— erally are far more frequent and take place over a much larger area (Figure 1-4, p. 8) and on a time scale of decades to hundreds of years. In other words, (1) the human temporal scale of environmental change is much faster than nature’s temporal scale, and (2) the spatial scale of our activities is much larger than nature’s spa- tial scale. Thus, an updating of Leopold’s basic land ethic based on the modern ecological concepts might be, "A thing is right when it tends to disturb a biotic com— munity at nature’s normal temporal and spatial scales. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” Others say we do not need to be biocentrists or ecocentrists to value life or the earth because human— centered stewardship and planetary management envi— ronmental worldviews also call for us to value individuals, Species, and the earth’s life-support sys- tems as part of our responsibility as earth’s caretakers. What do you think? ' What Is the Ecofeminist Worldview? The term ecofeminism, coined in 1974 by French writer Francoise d’Eaubonne, includes a spectrum of views on the rela— tionships of women to the earth and to male-dominated societies (patriarchies). Although most ecofeminists agree that we need a life-centered or earth-centered environmental worldview, they believe that a main cause of our environmental problems is not just human-centeredness, but specifically male-centered— ness (androcentrism). ' Many ecofeminists argue that the rise of male- dominated societies and environmental worldviews since the advent of agriculture is primarily responsi- ble for our violence against nature (and for the oppres— sion of women and minorities as well). To such ecofeminists, this led to a shift from an image of nature as a nurturing mother to a foe to be conquered. As evidence of male domination, ecofeminists note that women earn less than 10% of all wages, own less than 1% of all property, and in most soeieties have far- fewer rights than men. These analysts argue that to become primary players in the male power-and—dorn— ination game, most women are forced to emphasize the characteristics deemed masculine and become "hon— orary men.” Some ecofeminists suggest that oppression by men has driven women closer to nature and made them more compassionate and nurturing. As oppressed members of society, they argue, women have more experience in (1) dealing with interpersonal conflicts, (2) bringing people together, (3) acting as caregivers, and (4) identifying emotionally with injustice, pain, and suffering. ' Ecoferninists argue that women should be (1) given the same rights as men, (2) allowed to have their views heard and respected, and (3) treated as equal partners. They do not want just a fair share of the patriarchal pie; they want to work with men to bake an entirely new pie that helps heal the rift between humans and nature and ends oppression based on sex, race, class, and cultural and religious beliefs. In doing this, they do not want to be given token roles or co-opted into the male power game. _ Ecofeminists are not alone in calling for us to encourage the rise of life-centered people who emphasize the best human characteristics: gentleness, caring, com— passion, nonviolence, cooperation, and love. What Is the Social Ecology Worldview? Accord— ing to anarchist philosopher Murray Bookchin, the ecological crisis we currently face results from the power of our hierarchical and authoritarian sodal, economic, and political structures and from the vari— ous technologies used to dominate people and nature. In other words, our current environmental situation has been created by industrialized societies driven by the conventional planetary management environmen— tal worldview (p. 742). To alleviate the ecological crisis, Bookchin believes we must adopt a social ecology environmental world- view, which would involve decentralizing political and economic systems and corporations and chang— ing the types of technology we use. Bookchin urges us to create (1) better versions of democratic com- munities, (2) new forms of earth—sustaining produc— tion, and (3) types of appropriate ecotechnology that are smaller in scale, consume fewer resources and less earth capital, and do not cause environmental degra- dation of local ecological regions (Solutions, p. 696). Are There Really Physical and Biological Lim- its to Human Economic Growth? The planetary management and earth—wisdom worldviews (and related versions of these two types of worldviews) dif- fer over whether there are physical and biological lim- its to economic growth, beyond which both ecological and economic collapse is likely to occur. This argument over limits has been going on since Thomas Malthus published his book The Principles of Political Economy in 1836, with each side insisting that it is right at least in the long term. Some economists believe that that there are no limits to economic growth and that environmental problems either are not serious or can be dealt with by technological innovation. They appeal to people’s natural desire to believe that every— thing will be OK—be happy, don’t worry. Some envi— ronmentalists believe that there are ecological limits to economic growth, and they appeal to people’s ratio— nal desire to avoid a crash as a way to motivate politi- - cal change to stop environmental destruction. In 2000, conservation biologist Carlos Davidson (with a background in economics) proposed a way to bridge the gap between these two opposing viewpoints and help motivate the political changes needed to halt the spread of environmental degradation. _ He strongly disagrees with the View of some econ— omists that technology will allow continuing eco~ nomic growth without causing serious environmental ' damage. However, he also disagrees with the concept that continuing economic growth based on consuming ‘Deep Ecology '- Deep ecology con— sists of the follow- ing ecocentric beliefs developed SPOTLIGHT in 1972 by Norwe— gian philOSOpher Arne Naess, in conjunction with philosopher George Sessions and sociologist Bill Devall: I The well—being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on earth have inherent value. These values are independent of the use- fulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes. I The fundamental interdepen— dence, richness, and diversity of life forms contribute to the flour- ishing of human and nonhuman life on earth. I Humans have no right to reduce this interdependence, rich.— ness, and diversity except to sat— isfy vital needs. I Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is worsening rapidly. I Because of the damage caused by human interference in the non— human world, it would be better for humans, and much better for norihumans, if there were a sub- stantial decrease in the human population. I Basic economic, technological, and ideological policies must there- fore be changed. I The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (involving situations of inherent value) rather than adher- ing to an ever—higher material stan- dard of living. I Those who subscribe to these points have an obligation directly or indirectly to try to implement the necessary changes. Naess has also described some lifestyle guidelines compatible with the basic beliefs of deep ecology. They include (1) appreciating all forms of life, (2) protecting or restoring local ecosystems, (3) con— suming less, (4) emphasizing satis— fying vital needs rather than desires, (5) attempting to live in nature and promote community, (6) appreciating ethnic and cultural differences, (7) working to improve the standard of living for the world’s poor, (8) working to elimi— nate injustice toward fellow humans or other species, and (9) acting nonviolently. Deep ecology is not an ecoreli— gion, nor is it antireligious or anti- human, as some of its critics have claimed. Instead, it is a set of beliefs designed to have us think more deeply about the inherent value of all life oh the earth and about our obligations toward both human and nonhuman life. Critical Thinking 1. Which, if any, of the eight basic beliefs of the deep ecology environ— mental worldview do you agree with? Explain. 2. List five major changes that would occur in your life if you and most people lived by the beliefs of deep ecology. and degrading natural capital will lead to ecological and economic crashes on both ecological and politi— Cal grounds. Instead of crashes, he suggests that we use the metaphor of the gradual unraveling of some of the threads in a woven tapestry to describe the effects of environmental degradation. Nature is Viewed as an incredibly diverse and interwoven tapestry of threads consisting of a variety of patterns (biomes, aquatic sys- tems, and ecosystems). As environmental degradation removes threads from different parts of the biosphere, the overall integrity of the tapestry in these areas is reduced, and it becomes worn and tattered. Clearly, if too many of the threads are removed the tapestry can be destroyed. However, he contends that as threads are pulled from various parts of the tapestry, there are multiple local losses of ecological function and occasional local and regional tears rather than overall collapse. Ecological crashes such as the collapse of a fishery are (1) rare, (2) local or regional rather than global, and (3) can recover eventually if the stresses are removed. Instead of clear disaster thresholds, there is a continuum of envirOnrnental degradation. Global problems such as climate change, ozone depletion, and biodiversity loss may be exceptions to this analogy. However, even with these problems some areas of the tapestry are damaged more than other areas. Davidson strongly agrees with the views of ecolo— gists and environmentalists that degradation in parts of the earth’s ecological tapestry (1) is occurring, (2) is spreading, and (3) must be prevented. He supports doing this by using the pollution prevention and pre— cautionary principles and protecting areas of the bios- phere where damage is not severe from further damage. However, he believes that using catastrophe metaphors such as "ecological collapse” and "going over a cliff” can hinder achievement of these important goals. He argues that repeated predictions of catastro~ phe, like the boy who cries wolf, initially motivate peo— ple’s concern. However, when the threats turn out to be less severe than predicted, people tend to ignore future warnings. As a result, they are not politically .motivated to (1) prevent more tears innature’s tapes— try and (2) look more deeply at the economic, political, and social forces that are responsible for environmen- tal degradation. Biologist Kevin S. McCann at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, contends that the tapestry metaphor assumes that nature is in a static equilibrium state when in fact it undergoes constant dynamic change. He points out that tearing nature’s fabric sends "waves of dynamic change through an ecosystem, and the waves get bigger as biological diversity declines.” 28-3 SOLUTIONS: LIVING SUSTAINABLY How Should We Evaluate Sustainability Pro- posals? Sustainability has become a buzzword that means different things to different people. Lester Brown (Guest Essay, p. 18) has this simple test for any sustainability proposal: “Does this policy or action lower carbon emissions? Does it reduce the genera‘ tion of toxic wastes? Does it slow population growth? Does it increase the earth’s tree cover? Does it cut emissions of ozone—depleting chemicals? Does it reduce pollution? Does it reduce radioactive waste generation? Does it lead to less soil erosion? Does it protect the planet’s biodiversity?” Additional questions also help us evaluate sus- tainability proposals. Does it deplete the earth's natural capital? Does it entail getting most of our energy from current sunlight instead of. ancient sunlight stored as fossil fuels? Does it promote full-cost pricing of goods and services (p. 697)? Does it diminish cultural diver- sity? Does it reduce poverty, hunger, and disease? Does it promote individual and community self-reliance? Does it prevent pollution? Does it reduce resource waste? Does it save energy? Does it transfer the most resource-efficient and environmentally benign tech- nologies to developing countries? Does it keep wealth in the local community? What are its true costs, and who pays? Does it enhance environmental and eco- nomic justice for all? Solutions: What Are Some Ethical Guidelines for Working with the Earth? Ethicists and philoso- phers have developed a variety of ethical guidelines for living more sustainably or lightly on the earth. Such guidelines can be used by anyone, regardless of their environmental worldview. I Biosphere and Ecosystems I We should try to understand and work with the rest of nature to help sustain the natural capital, biodiversity, and adaptability of the earth’s life— support systems. I When we alter nature, we should do it no faster and not over a larger area than the typical time and spatial scales of the earth’s natural changes. I When we alter nature to meet our needs or wants, we should carefully evaluate our proposed actions and choose methods that do the least possi- ble short- and long-term environmental harm. This ethical concept of altimsa, or avoiding unnecessary harm, is a key element of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Janism. Species and Cultures I We should work to preserve as much of the earth's genetic variety as possible because it is the raw material for all future evolution, speciation, and genetic engineering. I We have the right to defend ourselves against individuals of species that do us harm and to use individuals of species to meet our vital needs, but we should strive not to cause the premature extinction of any wild species. I The best ways to protect species and individuals of species are to protect the places where they live and to help restore places we have degraded I No human culture should become extinct because of our actions. Individual Responsibility I We should not inflict unnecessary suffering or pain on any animal we raise or hunt for food or use for scientific or other purposes. I We should leave the earth as good as or better than we found it. I We should use no more of the earth’s resources than we need. I We should work with the earth to help heal eco- logical wounds we have inflicted. In March 2000, the Earth Charter was finalized. More than 100,000 people in 51 countries and 25 global leaders in environment, business, politics, reli— gion, and education took part in creating this char— ter. It is a document creating an ethical and moral framework to guide the conduct of people and nations to each other and to the earth. Its four guid— ing principles are to: I Respect earth and life in all its diversity. I Care for life with understanding, love, and compassion. I Build societies that are free, just, participatory, sus— tainable, and peaceful. . ‘ Lester W. Milbrath Lester W. Milbrath is director of the Research Program in Environn-ient and Soci— '|GU'ES_”1_‘ ESSAY. ety and professor emeritus of political science ' -' ' " ' and sociology at the State University ofNew York at Bzyffalo. During his distinguished career he has served as director of the Environmental Studies Center at SUNY/Buf— falo (1976—87) and taught at Northwestern University, Duke University, the University of Tennessee, National Taiwan Uni— versity in Taipei, and Aarhus University in Denmark. He has also been a visiting research scholar at the Australian National University and at Mannheim University in Germany. His research has focused on the relationships between science, soci- ety, and citizen participation in environmental policy deci— sions, with emphasis on environmental perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, and values. He has written numerous articles and books. His book Envisioning a Sustainable Society: Learn- ing Our Way Out ( 1989) summarizes a lifetime of studying our enviromnental predicament. It is considered one of the best analyses of what we can do to learn how to work with the earth. His most recent book is Learning to Think Environ- mentally While There Is Still Time (1995). The 1992 Earth Summit at Rio popularized the goal of sustainable development. Most of the heads of state meeting there believed that goal could be achieved by developing better technology and by writing better laws, agreements, and treaties, and enforcing them. Unfortu— nately, their approach was flawed and will not achieve sustainability because they do not understand the nature of the crisis in our earthly home. Try this thought experiment: Imagine that, suddenly, all the humans disappeared, but all the buildings, roads, shopping malls, factories, automobiles, and other arti— facts of modern civilization were left behind. What then? After three or four centuries, buildings would have crumbled, vehicles would have rusted and fallen apart, and plants would have recolonized fields, roads, park— ing lots, even buildings. Water, air, and soil would grad~ ually clear up; some endangered species would flourish. Nature would thrive splendidly without us. That mental experiment makes it clear that we do not have an environmental crisis; we have a crisis of civiliza~ tion. Heads of state meeting at the Earth Summit neither understood nor dealt with civilization’s most crucial Env : problems: (1) Humans are reproducing at such epidemic rates that world population could rise to 9 billion by 2054, (2) resource depletion and waste generation could easily triple or even quadruple over that period, (3) waste dis- charges are already beginning to change the way the bios- phere works, and (4) climate change and ozone loss will reduce the productivity of ecosystems just when hordes of new humans will be looking for sustenance and will destroy the confidence people need to invest in the future. Without intending to, we have created a civilization that is headed for destruction. Either we learn to control our gr0wth in population and in economic activity, or nature will use death to control it for us. Present-day society is not capable of producing a solu— tion because it is disabled by the values our leaders cone stantly trumpet: economic growth, jobs, consumption, competitiveness, power, and domination. Societies pur- suing these goals cannot avoid depleting their resources, degrading nature, poisoning life with wastes, and upset- ting biospheric systems. We have no choice but to change, and resisting change will make as victims of change. But how do we transform to a sustainable society? My answer, which I believe is the only answer, is that we must learn our way. Nature, and the imperatives of its laws, will be our most powerful teacher as we learn our way to a new society. Most crucially, we must learn how to think about values. Life in a viable ecosystem must become the core value of a sustainable society; that means all life, not just human life. Ecosystems function splendidly without humans, but human society would die without viable ecosystems. People seeking life quality need a well—func- tioning society living in well-fimctioning ecosystems. We must give top priority to the ecosystems that support us and second priority to human societies. A sustainable society would affirm love as a primary value and extend it not only to those near and clear but to people in other lands, to future generations, and to other species. A sustainable society emphasizes partner— ship rather than domination, cooperation over competi— tion, love over power. A sustainable society affirms justice and security as primary values. A sustainable society would encourage self—realiza- tion—helping people to become all they are capable of being, rather than spending and consuming—as the key to a fulfilling life. A sustainable society would make I Secure earth’s bounty and beauty for present and _ future generations. What Is Earth Education? Most environmentalists believe that learning how to live sustainably takes a foundation of environmental or earth education that relies heavily on an interdisciplinary and holistic approach to learning (Guest Essay, above). Achieving such ecological literacy means having the ability to syn- thesize and connect knowledge from a variety of dis— ciplines to see the big picture (holistic thinking). According to its proponents, the most important ' goals of such an education are to: I Develop respect or reverence for all life. Luiaislr.h—hs-»4<3 longvlasting products to be cherished and conserved. People would learn a love of beauty and simplicity. A sustainable society would use both planning and markets as basic and supplementary information sys- tems. Markets fail us because they can neither anticipate the future nor make moral choices between objects and between policies. Markets also cannot provide public goods such as schools, parks, and environmental pro— tection, which are just as important for life quality as private goods. A sustainable society would continue further devel— opment of science and technology because we need practical creative solutions that are both environmen- tally sound and. economically feasible. However, We should recognize that those who control science and technology could use them to dominate all other crea— tures; we must learn to develop social controls of scie ence and technology to make our society more sustainable. We should not allow the deployment of powerful new technologies that can induce sweeping changes in economic patterns, lifestyles, governance, and social values without careful forethought regarding their long-term impacts. Conscious social learning would become the dynamic of social change in a sustainable society, not only to deal with pressing problems but also to realize a vision of a good society. Meaningful and lasting social change occurs when nearly everyone learns the necessity of change and the value of working toward it. Ecological thinking is different from most thinking that guides modern society. For example, the following key maxims derived from the law of conservation and matter [p. 60], the laws of energy or thermodynamics [p. 65], and the workings of ecosystems [Chapters 4—10] are routinely violated in contemporary thinking and dis— course: (1) Everything must go somewhere (there is no away), (2) energy should not be wasted because all use of energy produces disorder in the environment, (3) we can never do just one thing (everything is connected), and (4) we must constantly ask, "And then what?” Every schoolchild and every adult should learn these simple truths; we need to reaffirm the tradition that knowledge of nature’s workings and a respect for all life are basic to a true education. We should require such environmental education of all students, just as we now require every student to study history. Ecological thinking recognizes that a proper under— standing of the world requires peeple to learn how to think holistically, systematically, and futuristically, Because everything is connected to everything else, we must learn to anticipate second—, third-, and higher—order consequences for any contemplated major societal action. A society learning to be sustainable would redesign government to maximize its ability to learn. It would require that people who govern listen to citizens, not only to keep the process open for public participation but also to cultivate mutual learning between officials and citizens. A sustainable society would strive for an effective system of planetary politics because our health and wel- fare are vitally affected by how people, businesses, and governments in other lands? behave. It would nurture planetwide social learning. Learning our way to a new society cannot occur until enough people become aware of the need for major societal change. As long as contemporary society is working reasonably well and leaders keep telling us that society is on the right track, most people will not listen to a message urging significant change. For that reason, urgently needed change probably will be delayed, and conditions on our planet are likely to get worse before they can get better. Nature will be our most powerful teacher, especially when biospheric sys~ tems no longer work the way they used to. In times of great system turbulence, social learning can be extraor- dinarily swift. Our species has a special gift: the ability to recall the past and foresee the future. Once we have a vision of the future, every decision becomes a moral decision. Even the decision not to act becomes a moral judgment. Those who understand what is happening to the only home for us and other species are not free to shrink from the responsibility to help make the transition to a more sus— tainable society. Critical Thinking 1. Do you agree or disagree that we can only learn our way to a sustainable society? Explain. 2. Do you think we will learn our way to a sustainable society? Explain. What role, if any, do you intend to play I in this process? I Understand as much as we can about how the earth works and sustains itself, and use such knowledge (Solutions, p. 209) to guide our lives, communities, ._and societies. Understand as much as we can about connections and -;---interactions. This includes those (1) within nature, (2) between people and the rest of nature, (3) between people with different cultures and beliefs, (4) between generations, (5) between the problems we face, and (6) between the solutions to these problems. I Use critical thinking skills (Guest Essay, p. 48) to become wisdom seekers instead of vessels of information ' I Understand and evaluate one’s worldview and see this as a lifelong process (Individuals Matter, p. 752). _ s: Mindquake: Evaluating : One’s Environmental Worldview ‘ ‘ Questioning and perhaps chang— ' INDIVififiALg' 'ing one’s environmental world- MATTER ' View can be difficult and __ ' threatening. It can set off a cul- tural mindquake that involves examining many of one’s most basic beliefs. HoWever, once people change their worldviews, no longer makes sense for them to do things in the old ways. If enough people do this, then tremendous cultural change, once considered impOssible, can take place rapidly. Most environmentalists'urge us to think about What our basic environmental beliefs are and why we have them. They believe that evaluating our beliefs, and being open to the possibility of chang- . ing them, should be one of our most important . ‘ lifelong activities. . i 1‘ 5 ‘ H As this book emphasizes, mOst environmental isSues are filled with controversy and uncertainty. A clearly right or wrong path is not easy to dis- cover and usually is strongly influenced by one’s environmental worldview. As philosopher Georg Hegel pointed out nearly two centuries ago, tragedy is not the conflict between right and wrong, but the conflict betWee‘n right and right. Critical Thinking "What are the basic 'Béii'eié'bi your current environ? " I mental worldview? ' " '. I Learn how to evaluate the beneficial and harmful conseu quences of one’s lifestyle and profession on the earth, today and in the future. I Use critical thinking skills to evaluate advertising that encourages us to buy more and more things. As humor- ist Will Rogers put it, "Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” David Orr points out, "Our children, consumers—in-training, can identify more than a thousand corporate logos but only a dozen or so plants and animals native to their region.” The average U.S. TV Viewer watches 22,000 commercials per year. Each year US. corpora~ I tions spend more than $150 billion on advertising, far more-than is spent on all secondary education in the country. - - I Foster a desire to make the world a better place and act on this desire. As David Orr puts it, education should help students “make the leap'from ’I knOw’ to ‘I care’ to ’I’ll do something.” According to environmental educator Mitchel] Thomashow, four basic questions should be at the heart of environmental education: I Where do the things I consume come from? I What do I know about the place where I live? I How am I connected to the earth and other living things? I What are my purpose and responsibility as a human being? How we answer these questions determines our eco— logical identity. In addition to formal education, some analysts believe that we need to experience nature directly to help us learn to walk more lightly on the earth (Con- nections, right). 5 How Can We Live More Simply? Many analysts urge us to learn how to live more simply. Although seek— ing happiness through the pursuit of material things is considered folly by almost every major religion and phi1050phy, it is preached incessantly by modern advertising. Some affluent people in developed countries are adopting a lifestyle of voluntary simplicity, doing and enjoying more with less by learning to live more simply. Voluntary simplicity is based on Mahatma Gandhi’s principle of enouglmess: "The earth provides enough to satisfy every person’s need but not every person’s greed. . ..When we take more than we need, we are sim— ply taking from each other, borrowing from the future, or destroying the environment and other species.” Implementing this principle means asking oneself, "How much is enough?” This is not an easy thing to do because people in affluent societies are conditioned to want more and more, and they often think of such wants as vital needs (Spotlight, p. 754). Voluntary simplicity begins by asking a series of questions before buying anything: (1) Do I really need this? (2) Can I buy it secondhand (reuse)? (3) Can I bor- row, rent, lease, or share it? (4) Can I build it myself? The decision to buy something then triggers another set of questions: (1) Is the product produced in an envi— ronmentally sustainable manner? (2) Did the workers producing it get fair wages for their work, and did they have safe and healthful working conditions? (3) Is it designed to last as long as possible? (4) Is it easy to repair, upgrade, reuse, and recycle? Choosing voluntary simplicity means (1) spending less time working for money, (2) leading lives less dri~ ven to accumulate stuff, and_(3) spending more time liv- Instead of seeing this as a sacrifice, those practicing voluntary simplicity View it as a more satisfying, mean- ingful, and sustainable way to live. Learning the. Earth Formal earth edu— cation is impor- tant, but many _ earth thinkers CONNECTIONS believe that it is not enough. They Berry’ mothers: my human mother and my planet mother, Earth. The planet is my womb of life. According to theologian Thomas defend it from harm and to help heal its wounds. According to David Orr (Guest Essay, p. 683), “It is possible for us to live well without consuming the world’s loveliness along with our urge us to take the time to escape the cultural and technological body armor we use to insulate ourselves from nature and to experience nature directly. ‘ They suggest that we reenchant our senses and kindle a sense of awe, wonder, and humility by stand~ ing under the stars,.sitting in a for- est, taking the majesty and pOWer of an ocean, ‘or experiencing a stream, lake, or other part of nature. We might‘pick up a handful of soil and try tosense the teeming microseopic‘life in it that keeps us alive. We might look at a tree, mountain, rock, or bee and try to sense how they are a part of us, and we a part of them as interde— pendent participants in the earth’s life-sustaining recycling processes. Earth thinker Michael J. Cohen suggests that we recognize who we really are by saying, I am a desire for water, air, food, love, toarmth, beauty, free— dom, sensations, life, commu- nity, place, and spirit in the natural world....I have two We need to be outdoors, to see the clouds, to feel the rain, to run across meadows. The wild expands the human soul. . ..No being is nourished by itself. Everything is nourished by something outside of itself. Many psychologists believe that consciously or unconsciously we spend much of our lives in a search for roots: something to anchor us in a bewildering and frightening sea of change. As philosopher Simone Weil observed, "To be rooted is perhaps the most impor— tant and least recognized need of the human soul.” Earth philosophers say that to be rooted, each _of us needs to find a sense of place: a stream, a mountain, a yard, a neighborhood lot, or any piece of the earth we feel at one with as a place we know, experi— ence emotionally, and love. It can be a place where we live or a place we occasionally visit and experi— encein our inner being. When we become part of a place, it becomes a part of us. Then we are driven to 1 a children’s legacy. But we must be inspired to act by examples that we can see, touch, and eXperience.” To many earth thinkers, emo- tionally experiencing our connect- edness with the earth leads us to recognize that the healing of the earth and the healing of the human spirit are one and the same. They call for us to discover and tap into what Aldo Leopold calls “the green fire that burns in our hearts” and use this as a force for respecting and working with the earth and with one another. Critical Thinking Some analysts believe that learning earth wisdom by experiencing the earth and forming an emotional bond with its life forms and processes is unscientific, mystical poppycock-based on a romanti— cized View of nature. They believe _ i- that better scientific understanding - = of how the earth works and - improved technology are the only ‘ ways to achieve sustainability. Do “ you agree or'disagree? Explain. Surveys by the Trends Research Institute found that the shift toward voluntary simplicity was one of the top trends in America during 1997 and estimated that 12—15% of adult Americans are participating in this s0cial trend. Another survey by the Harwood Group found that betWeen 1992 and 1997, 28% of the respon— dents had voluntarily reduced their incomes as part of a change in their personal priorities. Later surveys indi- cate that this trend is increasing. Voluntary simplicity by those who have more than they need should not be confused with the forced sim— plicity of the poor, who do not have enough to meet _ their basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, clean water and air, and good health. After a lifetime of studying the growth and decline _ of the world’s human civilizations, historian Arnold Toynbee summarized the true measure of a civilization’s growth in what he called the law-of progressive Simplifi‘ cation: “True growth occurs as civilizations transfer an increasing proportion of energy and attention from the material side of life to the nonmaterial side and thereby. develop their culture,- capacity for compassion, sense of community, and strength of democracy.” Is a Cultural Shift Beginning to Take Place in the United States? Researchers Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson have been gathering and analyzing survey? data indicating cultural patterns and beliefs in-the‘ United States. Using surveys, they have identified three major cultural groupings in the United States: I Modems (about 48% of the adult us. population), - ‘ who (1) actively seek materialism, (2) take a cynical View of idealism and caringgand (3) accept some form; of the planetary management worldview (p. 742). . Our Basic Needs ‘ Obviously, each of us has a basic need for enough food, clean air, " " " " clean water, shelter, and clothing SPOTLIGHT to keep us alive and in good ‘ health. According to various psy- chologists and other social scientists, each of us also has other basic needs: I A secure and meaningful livelihood to pro— vide our basic material needs I Good physical and mental health I The opportunity to learn and give expression to our intellectual, mechanical, and artistic talents I A nurturing family and friends and. a peaceful and secure community that help us develop our capacity for caring and loving relationships while giving us the freedom to make personal choices I A clean and healthy environment that is Vibrant with. biological and cultural diversity I A sense of belonging to and caring for a particular place and community (Connections, p. 753) I An aSSurance that Our children and grandchil- ' ' dren will have access to these same basic needs A difficult but fundamental question is asking how much of the stuff we are all urged to buy helps us meet any of these basic needs. Indeed, psychologists point out that many people buy things in. the hope or belief that they will make up for not having some of the basic needs listed here. Critical Thinking 1. What basic needs, if any, would you add to or remove from the list given here? 2. Which of the basic needs listed here (or addi— tional ones you would add) do you feel are being met? What are your plans for trying to fulfill any of your unfulfilled needs? Relate these plans to your environmental worldview. I Traditionals (about 25% of the adult US. popula- ' tion), who tend toward religious conservatism, fun~ damentalism, and strong nationalism and want to return to traditional ways of life. They believe in u (1) family, church and community, (2) helping others, (3) having caring relationships, and (4) working to create a better society. Many are pro-environment and anti-big business. They tend to be older, poorer, and less educated than others in the US. I Cultural Creatives (about 26% of the adult U.S. pop- ulation), who have a strong commitment to family, COmmunity, the environment, education, internation— alism, equality, personal growth and Spiritual devel— opment, concern for human relationships, helping other people, and making a contribution to society. They have an optimistic outlook and are open to change and different beliefs and points of View. How- ever, they reject the hedonism, materialism, and cyni~ cism of the modernists and the intolerance of the religious right. National public polls by the Harwood Group indi- cate that most Americans believe that materialism, greed, and selfishness Encreasingly dominate Ameri— can life and are crowding out more meaningful val— . ues centered on family, responsibility, and community. This and other surveys indicate that the Cultural Cre— atives are the leading edge of cultural change in the United States. They are crafting a new environmental and spiritual worldview and a new agenda to help solve the environmental and social problems the United States faces. These surveys indicate that the environmental beliefs of Modems are beginning to weaken and to shift more to some of the environmental Views of the Cul- tural Creatives. Evidence of this shift comes from sur- veys indicating that (1) 87% of adult Americans believe that we need to treat the planet as a living system, (2) 83% say that we need to rebuild our neighborhoods and small communities, (3) 82% say we should be stew- ards Over nature and protect it, (4) 75% believe that humans are part of nature, and not its ruler, (5) 68% want to return to a simpler life with less emphasis on consumption and wealth, and (6) 63% believe that the government should shut down industries that keep polluting the air. These surveys suggest a shift in values away from some of the beliefs of the planetary management envi— ronmental worldview (p. 742) toward some of the beliefs of the environmental-wisdom environmental worldview (p. 745). The real test of such a shift in val— ues is (1) whether it is accompanied by changes in human behavior and (2) whether an existing or new political party can mobilize these individuals into an effective force for political change. How Can We Move Beyond Blame, Guilt, and Denial to Responsibility? According to many psy- chologists, when we first encormter an environmental problem, our initial response often is to find someone or something to blame: greedy industrialists, uncaring politi- cians, environmentalists, and misguided worldviews. It is the fault of such villains, and we are the victims. This can lead to despair, denial, and inaction because we feel powerless to stop or influence these forces. There are also many complex and interconnected environ— mental problems and conflicting views about their seri— ousness and possible solutions. As a result, we feel overwhelmed and wonder whether there is any way out—another emotion leading to denial and inaction. Upon closer examination we may realize that we all make some direct or indirect contributions to the environmental problems we face. As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and it is us.” We do not want to feel guilty or bad about all of the things we are not doing, so we avoid thinking about them—another path to denial and inaction. How do we move beyond immobilizing blame, fear, and guilt to engaging in more responsible envi— ronmental actions in our daily lives? Analysts have sug— gested several ways to do this: I Recognize and avoid commOn mental traps that lead to denial, indifference, and inaction. These traps include (1) gloom—and—doom pessimism (it’s hopeless), (2) blind technological optimism (science and technofixes will save us), (3) fatalism (we have no control over our actions and the future), (4) extrapolation to infinity (if I cannot change the entire world quickly, I will not try to change any of it), (5) paralysis by analysis (searching for the perfect worldview, philosophy, solutions, and scientific information before doing anything), and (6) faith in simple, easy answers. I Understand that no one can even come close to doing all of the things people suggest (or that we know we should be doing) to work with the earth. Try to determine what things you do have the great- est environmental impact and concentrate on them. Focus on things you feel strongly about and that you can do something about. Rejoice in the good things you have done and continually expanded your efforts make the earth a better place (Appendix 6). I Keep your empowering feelings of hope slightly ahead of your immobilizing feelings of despair. I Do not use guilt and fear to motivate other peo- ple to work with the earth and other people. We need to nurture, reassure, understand, and care for one another. I Recognize that there is no single correct or best solution to the environmental problems we face. Indeed, one of nature’s most important lessons (from evolution) is that preserving diversity or a rainbow of ' flexible and adaptable solutions to the problems we face is the best way to adapt to earth’s largely unpre— dictable, ever-changing conditions. I Expect the unexpected and hedge your bets. The future will always have some unpredictable sur— prises fer us, This is where the precautionary pl‘inci- ple comes in. I Have fun and take time to enjoy life. Every day we should. laugh and enjoy nature, beauty, friendship, and love. What Are the Major Components of the Envi— ronmental Revolution? The environmental revolution (Guest Essay, p. 18) that many environmentalists call for us to bring about would have several components: I An efi‘iciency revolution that involves not wasting matter and energy resources and relying on the earth’s natural income without depleting its naturalcapital. Analysts point out that we already have the knowl— edge and technology to increase resource productivity by getting 75—90% mpre work or service from each unit of material resource we use (Solutions, p. 525). I A pollution prevention revolution that reduces politi— tion and environmental degradation by (1) reducing the waste of matter and energy resources, (2) using cleaner production (Section 21—3, p. 522, and Guest Essay, p. 526) to keep highly toxic substances from being released into the environment by recycling or reusing them within industrial processes, and (3) try- ing to find less harmful or easily biodegradable substi- tutes for such substances or not producing them at all. I A sufl'iciency revolution. This involves trying to meet the basic needs of all people on the planet and asking how many material things we really need to have a decent and meaningful life (Spotlight, left). I A demographic revolution based 0n bringing the size and growth rate of the human pOpulation into balance with the earth’s ability to support humans and other species without serious environmental degradation. I An economic revolution in which we use economic systems to reward environmentally beneficial behav- ior and discourage environmentally harmful behavior (Section 26-7, p. 708). Opponents of such a cultural change like to paint environmentalists as messengers of gloom,,doom, and hopelessness. However, the real message of envi— ronmentalism is not gloom and doom, fear, and catastrophe but hope and a positive vision of the future. This is an exciting message of challenge and adventure as we struggle to find better and more responsible ways to live on this planet. Envision the earth’s life-sustaining processes as a beautiful and diverse web of interrelationships—a kaleidoscope of patterns, rhythms, and connections whose very complexity and multitude of possibilities remind us that cooperation, sharing, honesty, humil- . ity, and compassionate love should be the guidelines for our behavior toward one another and the earth. ...
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This note was uploaded on 03/31/2008 for the course IDS 110 taught by Professor Tavakoli during the Spring '08 term at N.C. State.

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environmental worldviews, ethics - 2 8 ENVIRONMENTAL...

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