Xtians responsible for ecological Xrisis!?

Something to Think About:

My first impression would be ‘not necessarily’, which is, I’m sure, supportable. Though, I can’t argue but that the said axiom might be one (perhaps a large one, if truly examined) component of the ecological situation.
How big a ‘component’ might be a topic, perhaps, and if so, what must be ‘tweaked’ to ‘fix’ it? Rewrite portions of the bible?
‘Greenify’ it? *__-
Other components?
It seems to me, that the ‘ecological solution’ ultimately rests in the proper education of our spawn.
And, perhaps, a good example?
A whole new world-view would be necessary, no? An understanding of the interconnectedness/Oneness of all existence, perhaps, might be the first step to ‘respect’?

seem to ‘communicate’ and ‘respond’
to such delicate stimulous as ‘thought’!
And they ‘sleep’;
I wonder,
do they dream?

Any thoughts?

As I understand it White blames Christian theology for our current ecological disaster. White asserted that Christian religion anthropocentrism gave historical impetus for the use of technology against nature. I have seen evidence of this. I think it’s a kind of theologic rationalization for selfish irresponsible and destructive behavior endemic to our species. Objectifying science, modern industrial and consumer trends picked up and carried the ball. It was by no means an inevitable product of biblical theology and its not the only stream flowing from it as demonstrated by the nature mysticism of Jesus and Francis of Assisi, Albert Schwietzer and many others.


And Christians are by no means the only ones who think themselves Masters of the Universe.

Yeah, there’s He Man.

The filthiest environments in the world are not in Christian territory.

I believe that men are the dominant creatures in this world (sentient creatures in other worlds) as a result of being at the top of the food chain, our possession of self-awareness, and the only ones who are not innocent (able to determine right from wrong). As a non-Christian, I have no way of knowing for certain what God’s (if he exists) motivation for creating this universe is, but it is more than reasonable to suppose that it was to spawn sentient creatures such as us.

That said, it is also obvious that it is to our own benefit to promote humane treatment of animals, and to be, in the tree hugger’s vernacular, good stewards of the Earth. We don’t need to turn Mother Earth into the god of a new religion with it’s own set of divinely revealed scriptures (global warming etc.), taboos and politically correct theocracy.

I’ll second this sentiment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for blaming whitey for the wrongs which can be attributed to whitey. I’m less OK with blaming hemie (sp? I’m really not up on my racist rhetoric) because usually it amounts to whitey’s fault that is blamed on a particular subset of whitey. But to blame the ecological crisis on some variety of whitey’s religio-philosophical leanings amounts to some iteration of the “Noble Savage” thesis, which is entirely offensive in its nature. I just had an argument about this in religion with someone (nameless? Not really sure, speak up if it was you) where I pointed out that the three jewels of Chinese philosophy (Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism) are all incredibly eco-friendly in nature but China is anything but eco-friendly. While it is tempting to blame Western influences (vis-a-vie Marxism/Capitalism) for all the ills currently present, that analysis doesn’t make sense if non-Western traditions actually have something within them that would prevent rampant abuses of the environment. They’d have had some sort of a block on the sort of abuses that we currently see. Ditto for Korea, Thailand, Malaysia (including Singapore), and so on. The whole “Ecological Indian” or better understood, “Ecological non-whitey” is flawed in the extreme. It has more to do with human nature.

That doesn’t mean human nature doesn’t need some serious re-calibration. But that is another discussion entirely. The Lynn White Thesis is flawed no matter how you figure it. That doesn’t mean that the current Enlightenment-run-amok stance on the environment (which is thankfully going through a re-analysis) isn’t messed up. But it isn’t solely to blame either. Like most serious issues, it is multi-variabled in nature and we need to recognize that as opposed to grabbing the low-hanging fruit and running with it.

The major religions were established before ecological concerns were understood in a modern way. So for instance the Amish (Christians) hold certain tenets that are environment-friendly (i.e. anti-electricity), but the Amish don’t necessarily have a modern ecological consciousness (they aren’t opposed to the use of chemical fertilizers). Same with Tibetans (Buddhists), who are opposed to digging in the earth and are therefore anti-mining. But again, they may not share a modern ecological outlook. It is the responsibility of modern religious leaders to freshly interpret their traditional teachings anew. In the Buddhist world the Dalai Lama for instance is a strong proponent of awakening Buddhists to the urgency of the problem. I’m also aware of a Christian movement that sees people as stewards of creation. People like Wendell Berry (I think Wes Jackson too?) are eloquent spokespeople for this view.

Regarding “filthy” environments, there are some ironies worth pointing out. One, there is “clean filthy” (i.e. dirt) and there is “unclean filthy” (i.e. nuclear waste). I’ve seen poor Indians publicly shitting on the beach, publicly urinating at open street-side toilets. This is filthy in an immediate sense, but less-so in an environmental sense. Then there are industries like ship demolition, one of the dirtiest industries there are. Bangladesh and India are big into these industries. The relaxed environmental restrictions in those countries, in addition to the ability of the people to make use of whatever they can get out of these ships, create the specific market. The market obviously couldn’t exist without the existence and discarding of first world nations’ ships.

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness” can simultaneously mean sweep the filth over there, and let someone else take care of it.

Anon, here you go in regards to environmental pollution:

time.com/time/specials/2007/ … 31,00.html

  1. Sumqayit, Azerbaijan—This area gained the dubious distinction of landing atop the Blacksmith Institute’s list of the world’s most polluted sites. Yet another heir to the toxic legacy of Soviet industry, this city of 275,000 bears heavy metal, oil and chemical contamination from its days as a center of chemical production. As a result, locals suffer cancer rates 22 to 51 percent higher than their countrymen, and their children suffer from a host of genetic defects, ranging from mental retardation to bone disease.

“As much as 120,000 tons of harmful emissions were released on an annual basis, including mercury,” says Richard Fuller, founder of Blacksmith, an environmental health organization based in New York City. “There are huge untreated dumps of industrial sludge.”

  1. Chernobyl, Ukraine—The fallout from the world’s worst nuclear power accident continues to accumulate, affecting as many as 5.5 million people and leading to a sharp rise in thyroid cancer. The incident has also blighted the economic prospects of surrounding areas and nations.

  2. DzerzHinsk, Russia—The 300,000 residents of this center of cold war chemical manufacturing have one of the lowest life expectancies in the world thanks to waste injected directly into the ground. “Average life expectancy is roughly 45 years,” says Stephan Robinson, a director at Green Cross Switzerland, an environmental group that collaborated on the report. “Fifteen to 20 years less than the Russian average and about half a Westerner’s.”

  3. Kabwe, Zambia—The second largest city in this southern African country was home to one of the world’s largest lead smelters until 1994. As a result of that industry, the entire city is contaminated with the heavy metal, which can cause brain and nerve damage in children and fetuses.

  4. La Oroya, Peru—Although this is one of the smallest communities on the list (population 35,000), it is also one of the most heavily polluted because of extensive lead, copper and zinc mining by the U.S.–based Doe Run mining company.

  5. Linfen, China—A city in the heart of China’s coal region in Shanxi Province, Linfen is home to three million inhabitants, who choke on dust and air pollution and drink arsenic that leaches from the fossil fuel.

  6. Norilsk, Russia—This city above the Arctic Circle contains the world’s largest metal-smelting complex and some of the planet’s worst smog. “There is no living piece of grass or shrub within 30 kilometers of the city,” Fuller says. “Contamination [with heavy metals] has been found as much as 60 kilometers away.”

  7. Sukinda, India—Home to one of the world’s biggest chromite mines—chromite makes steel stainless, among other uses—and 2.6 million people. The waters of this valley contain carcinogenic hexavalent chromium compounds courtesy of 30 million tons of waste rock lining the Brahmani River.

  8. Tianying, China—The center of Chinese lead production, this town of 160,000 has lead concentrations in its air and soil that are 8.5 to 10 times those of the national health standards. The concentrations of lead dusting the local crops are 24 times too high.

  9. Vapi, India—This town at the end of India’s industrial belt in the state of Gujarat houses the dumped remnant waste of more than 1,000 manufacturers, including petrochemicals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals. “The companies treat wastewater and get most of the muck out,” says David Hanrahan, Blacksmith’s London-based director of global operations. “But there’s nowhere to put the muck, so it ends up getting dumped.”

scientificamerican.com/artic … ted-places

WW_III_ANGRY: Thank you, this kind of information is always fascinating to me. I would only reiterate that it is impossible anymore to make hard distinctions. All cases of severe pollution include many players, including people who live in pristine environments. Also, western first world countries can afford to be cleaner now, based on our history. We have become rich enough and stable enough to have more progressive environmental policies (as well as social policies regarding child labor, etc.)

I agree

I’m surprised not to see the Alberta Tarsands on that list. We’ve got man-made LAKES of toxins (tailing ponds from processing the tarsands) up here! I forget howmany square kilometers, but lots. Go to google earth and click into Fort McMurray, Alberta. You can see them for yourself! :frowning:

EDIT: Wikipedia says 130 square km

Further info: sierraclub.ca/prairie/tarnation.htm

I feel like I might have seen that in some movie. A documentary about a photographer? Though that may have all been in China. Amazing footage, I wish I could think of its title.

Ya, it was a short film nominated for an Oscar, about a doctor in Fort Chipawan (sp?) who was concerned about the irregularities in cancers he was diagnosing. I forget the title too…

haha, different film. If you think of yours let me know. Sounds interesting. :slight_smile:

Ok I found the one I’m referring to:

zeitgeistfilms.com/film.php? … landscapes

Of course the major religions don’t have a modern ecological understanding, none of them can unless they are actually all-knowing or the founders had access to a time machine (neither of which I’d put much stock in). At the same time, I don’t think it is too hard to lump certain religious ideologies into groups that are either more in keeping with modern ecological understanding or less in keeping with modern ecological understanding. Viewing ourselves as coextensive with the environment should create a more ecological worldview than viewing the environment in a sort of paternalistic manner whereby we can do with it what we will . . . but we should still keep it nice just because. Except that it doesn’t work that way, so as you said, ancient traditions need to update themselves (as they have always done) to stay in keeping with modern developments and see if they can use the bully pulpit to reform their actions.

As for ‘good’ dirty vs. ‘bad’ dirty, I think a lot of that is normative. A river clogged with feces is going to have a lot of problems (both in terms of disease as well as oxygen deprivation due to things like algal blooms in response to the nutrient rich environment) whereas things like nuclear waste aren’t always deal-breakers for non-human organisms. Sure, other large mammals with long gestation times and a small number of offspring get womped along with us same deal with apex predators, but plants, insects, fish, rodents, and the like do fine, even thrive. Other things like smelting, tanning, and any industry with lax laws (as you pointed out) is going to be catastrophic. So there is a middle ground that is just plain bad. But even the ‘good’ dirty can become bad in an environmental sense if there is too much of it. Sustainability is a tricky thing. How do we conceive environmental damage? The American Great Plains became that when early human settlers came to the area and introduced fire. Without regular burning (some of it caused by things like lightening but I believe research seems to suggest it became a regular thing when humans were introduced) it just becomes an old growth forest. So what is the real native state of the Great Plains? I’d say the plains as plains is the real plains with humans acting as part of the process. But then why is that process OK and others (like dumping industrial waste) not? Aside from the obvious reasons, of course.

I agree with most of what you said, I think we’re both making a similar case. But I don’t agree at all with this particular statement:

It’s about practicality. At least that is my argument. I don’t find particular practices to be absolutely right or wrong in any sense, and I’m not one to separate humanity from nature.

Sure, sure. I don’t think either of us deal in absolutes and neither of us is one to separate man from nature. But I still think the question of what ends we are seeking to pursue is a critical one. There are times where feces and other organic waste has a greater capacity to change an environment than straight-up nuclear waste. So which environment are we seeking to preserve (maintain, support, allow)? Practicality manifests itself in the ‘how’ but not in the ‘which’.

I agree. Though nuclear power may be a bad example. The dangers involved are so extreme that I’m more willing to go with the “which” rather than the “how”. Which isn’t to say it’s a normative issue - it’s still an issue of practicality.