Modern life has led to our current environmental crisis. This crisis includes issues such as: global climate change, overpopulation, deforestation, etc. In an effort to combat these environmental issues the global population must come together to create an ecological culture that shares the ideology that man is a part of nature rather than man has dominion over nature. One’s ideology of modernity and religion will shape how one views the environment and the crisis of our present day.
What does it mean to live in a modern world? The rapid rate at which change, advancements in technology and science is occurring has led to more development in technology now than ever before. To live in a modern society is to assume that science has the answer to everything.
“Western industrialization was driven by the dream of improving human well-being and yet has resulted in unintended environmental consequences” (Ecology and Religion).
Industrialization occurred primarily in the West before moving to the East. Could it be that the West is responsible for rapid industrialization which has resulted in a depletion of natural habitats, led to the extinction of species, caused the globe to warm or should both the West and the East share the burden of a modern life which has lead to the pressing issue of an environmental crisis?
In chapter 11 of Explorations in Global Ethics, Kusumita Pederson included a quote from Lester Brown that reads, “In a sustainable economy, human births and deaths are in balance, soil erosion does not exceed the natural rate of new soil formation, tree cutting does not exceed tree planting, the fish caught do not exceed the sustainable yield of fisheries, the cattle on a range do not exceed its carrying capacity, and water pumping does not exceed aquifer recharge. It is an economy where carbon emissions and carbon fixation are also again in balance. The number of plants and animal species lost does not exceed the rate at which new species evolve.”
Brown describes what an environmentally sustainable economy would look like. It reads much like that of a Utopian society, one that is far out of reach due to the modern lifestyle of both the West and the East where there has been relentless economic exploitation of nature and the consumption of its resources. All throughout history the world’s religions have been able to create change; the hope is that religion could act as a vehicle of change for environmentalism. Through religious practices, rituals, and traditions it could be possible to educate people of faith to be more in tune to the rhythms of nature and the environment; this is the goal of religious ecology.
If sustainability goals are not met, the human-caused factors of this crisis will keep increasing and the burden of humanity killing its environment will become heavier. Different groups within different religions have differing ideologies of how they view the relationship between man and nature. Imagine a world in which all people, of varying religious groups shared the same ideology, one in which man didn’t exert dominance over nature but instead showed stewardship towards it.