Week 3 Review 12/08/08

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Week 3 Review 12/08/08

Post  Jimmy on Sat Jul 12, 2008 1:34 am

In thrall to the green god

By Martin Livermore

Environmentalism has become a religion, writes Martin Livermore in this week's Green Room; humans should take off their hair shirts, and enjoy the lifestyles which progress has created.

With the decline of Christianity and Marxism, environmentalism has taken the place of religion for many

We humans have an uneasy relationship with the natural world.
It seems to me that one of the main reasons for this is that we regard ourselves as apart from Nature; as unnatural by definition.

In reality, Homo sapiens is just one more species.

Admittedly, a few key evolutionary advantages make us remarkably adaptable and, currently, the ultimate generalist; but it still makes us part of Nature, and our use of human ingenuity is every bit as natural as a spider's web or a swallow's migratory pattern.

Nevertheless, our very intelligence sometimes makes us realise how little of the natural world we truly understand, and puts us in awe of the forces of Nature.

In past times, this awe would have been ever-present. In modern cities we may be less aware, but it only takes a hurricane or tsunami to remind us.

This feeling of powerlessness before the forces of Nature led to early forms of religion.

Although they were replaced in time by the current great world religions, in a strange way we are returning to our earlier beliefs.

Deifying Nature

In the West, with the decline of organised Christianity and the discrediting of Marxism, environmentalism has taken the place of religion for many.

In the words of Frank Lloyd Wright "I believe in God, only I spell it Nature". Googling "environmentalism as religion" returns 854,000 hits.

The new orthodoxy teaches that Mankind is guilty of Original Sin by despoiling Eden (the pre-Industrial world).
This guilt must be assuaged by repairing the damage and protecting all other forms of life.

For the deepest Greens, the only real solution is the disappearance of our species from the Earth - the ultimate sacrifice - and for many others a much smaller "optimum" population of humans is a desirable goal.

I have to admit that, in this case, the word "natural" doesn't seem appropriate; what other species would want to become less rather than more successful?

Progress made

In fact, all species affect their environment to a greater or lesser degree.

Termites build complex homes, beavers construct dams to alter the flow of streams and grazing animals profoundly alter the balance of plant species.

People do the same. The difference is that we have a uniquely greater capacity to do so.

But, as this capacity has grown, so has our awareness of the consequences, and our ability to make rational choices between options.

So, in the last half-century, environmental quality in the developed world has improved greatly by almost any measure.

Britons may regret the death of the whale which swam up the Thames recently, but a generation ago it would probably have died in the polluted water well before it got within sight of London.

A generation ago, the Thames whale would probably have died in polluted water well before it got within sight of London

Clean air and clean water are things we would all reckon to be good things.
But in most other respects, it is really impossible to say that an effect on the environment is either "good" or "bad".

At the risk of sounding post-modernist, these terms just represent value judgements; why is a dormouse better than a rat?

And when we try to manage the environment actively - to do what is "right" - the result isn't always what we expect.

Well-meant but misguided efforts to conserve bison in Yellowstone Park by culling wolves led to an unsupportable population increase followed by collapse.

Today, wolves are being encouraged once again.

Actively preventing forest fires (because they are "bad") causes a build up in brushwood. When this inevitably does catch fire, the results are far more destructive than if periodic blazes had been allowed.

We may think that hill farming or low-input arable farming are good because they create ecological niches for wildlife and landscapes which are visually pleasing; but they represent profound changes to the "natural" environment.

Organic farming creates as much dislocation to the ecology of a field as does more conventional management.

So, let us get our perspective right.

We are as much a part of Nature as any other species, and we need to stop feeling guilty about our impact on the environment.

Not many of us, given the choice, would encourage the wanton destruction of habitats or species, but surely our first priority must be the needs of poorer members of our own species.

That is the law of Nature.

Martin Livermore is an independent consultant, with a background in industry, covering a range of science communication and policy issues.

Commentary: This is an interesting article as it starts by intriguing your mind about the question “Would you want to have environmentalism as your religion", since it has already been there since the beginning of time. The author gives people the impression that he is not in favor of the green movements. Livermore believes we are part of nature and we should not feel too guilty about the impact we have caused on the environment. However, as part of nature, we were different due to our larger capacity to grow compared to other species. This difference made it possible for us to splurge on the earth's resource and watch as we slowly lead us to our own demise. The author believes the priority is to focus on those in poverty, but we should be looking at the larger picture of saving the very land we sleep upon. We should all take responsibility to take care of the little of what we have left of our environment. Livermore also that more often than not, we fail in attempts as the solutions backlash at us. This is a point that we should think about, is there really a viable solution to this crisis, or will the new solution cause another destruction that we have to deal with? Question

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Re: Week 3 Review 12/08/08

Post  hweeing on Sun Jul 13, 2008 9:54 pm

I agree with the writer who said that human beings are the one that should be remove to save the earth. However, since damage is already done, what we can do is to reduce or stop the damage. i do not agree with the idea of such religion. i think that being an environmental friendly person, we should be like a scientist who will discover and solve the problem.


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Re: Week 3 Review 12/08/08

Post  Weiliang on Mon Jul 14, 2008 9:56 pm

"A religion is a set of beliefs and practices, often centered upon specific supernatural and moral claims about reality, the cosmos, and human nature, and often codified as prayer, ritual, or religious law." Wikipedia

From this definition, I do not see anything wrong with environmentalism being regarded as a religion. The writer had clearly expressed that he does not sympathize with this belief. I disagree with his arguments. The main cause of environmental damage is due to industrialization and staggering figures are oftenly used to prove this point. Since humans have such great capacity to damage the environment, we should also use the same capacity to restore the environment we damaged. It is wrong to not be guilty when humans are the obvious culprits causing environmental damage. When humans threaten the existence of other species for the sake of our own comfort, it is definately morally wrong. How can we be compared with mindless animals that act based on their instincts. Humans have the ability to think much better and we should take up the responsibility of taking care of the Earth. If we do not concern ourselves with the environment, as the writer had suggested, who else will?

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Re: Week 3 Review 12/08/08

Post  Aik Kun on Tue Jul 15, 2008 7:41 pm

It is true that we should consider environmentalism as a religion. Who is going to save the Earth if we don't? If we are the ones who are continuously destroying the environment, we should also be the ones who will put in extra effort to revive the Earth. Yes, i agree that certain opportunity costs will be involved if we want to ensure our survival on Earth, but we can minimize the damage done can we? If every person or household makes an effort to reduce their excessive energy consumption, we will be one step towards saving the Earth. Very Happy

On the other hand, some may be convinced that we will be slowing down our efficiency if lesser technology is used or that if we reduce our energy consumption. Countries such as USA are reluctant to sign the Kyoto Protocol as they fear that their economy may suffer. Hence, i feel that they should look at the big picture and must be sincere in keeping pollution down. Indonesia, for example, claimed to be saving the Earth by having selected days as "Earth's Day", however, they do not realise that the process of cutting down massive number of trees in Indonesia had emitted huge amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. They are clearly, not really sincere in saving the planet. Neutral

Aik Kun

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Re: Week 3 Review 12/08/08

Post  HikaRu on Sun Jul 20, 2008 3:04 pm

Yes , this is indeed an interesting article as it give us a new option for religion. religions normally seen a set of beliefs and values that are pass down from our ancestor , but after reading this article, I realize that religion could be created in the present. We got create a new set of values that may stop us from moving towards destructions cause by our own actions. The world is ever-changing and we have to program ourselves to such a way that we could keep up with this changes. Thus , we have to do something about the serious environmental problem we are facing now. So that we could all work together and save our planet ourselves. But the question is that is it possible to instill a new set of belief in an individual. As we are human, we have the ability to think and decide on our own , changing mindset may not be possible , especially when materialistic greed are in the way. Very Happy Very Happy

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