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Sustainability Class 4. Thomas Berry’s Dream of the Earth Andy Light, “Moral Journey of Environmentalism” Lynn White, “The Roots of our Ecological Crisis”. Lynn White, “Roots of Our Ecological Crisis”.

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sustainability class 4

SustainabilityClass 4

Thomas Berry’s Dream of the Earth

Andy Light, “Moral Journey of Environmentalism”

Lynn White, “The Roots of our Ecological Crisis”

lynn white roots of our ecological crisis
Lynn White, “Roots of Our Ecological Crisis”
  • Main Point: Our solutions to environmental issues are determined by how we see ourselves in relationship to the environment. Until this shifts, little will be accomplished in preserving the enviro
  • Support:
    • We all change our environment or “modify its context”
    • Industrial Rev turning pt in our history
    • Combined Technology with Science to create a potent destructive force to environment
    • Baconian Mentality: “Earth as a resource”
    • Driven in large part by Christianity
      • “dominion over nature”  mode of Anthropocentrism
      • Man created in “God’s image” is superior over rest of nature
  • Conclusion: Religious-driven attitudes have created indifference toward environment; technology/science won’t help either. It’s human ideas about nature that must change.
    • they must abandon "superior, contemptuous" attitudes that make them "willing to use it [the earth] for our slightest whim."
moral journey of environmentalism andrew light
Moral Journey of Environmentalism(Andrew Light)
  • Suggests environmentalism transition from “wilderness” to “place”
  • Reasoning: “an attachment to place is not only an attachment to a nature external to us but to the people whom we inhabit those places. If environmentalisms is to avoid becoming a special interest then environmental concern must not only be about our connection with the natural world but our connection with people, and hence based in our understanding that enviro problems go hand in hand with human social problems rather than representing a moral realm outside those problems.” (p137-8)
3 waves of environmentalism
3 Waves of Environmentalism
  • 1. Conservation Wave: Began with conservation/preservation of ‘wilderness’ in early 1900s—setting up national parks, etc. (Muir, Leopold, Pinchot)
    • Wilderness: “biotic associations be maintained, or where necessary recreated, as nearly as possible in the condition that prevailed when the area was first visited by the white man.”
  • 2. Human Health Wave: Earth Day (1970)
    • Primarily Concerned with human health from environment--Rachel Carson (DDT) (beginning in late ‘60s); Air/Water pollution; population growth
    • Marked by fed legis & laws passed on enviroprotectction: Superfund, CWA, CAA, NEPA, Wilderness Act
    • In 1970, 53% of Americans viewed “reduction of air/water pollution as a nat’l priority”
    • Shift away from elitist, natural roots of enviromentalism: NGOs.
  • 3. “Beltway Environmentalism” (late 80s)
    • Responding to antagonistic Reagan Admin, which attempted to roll back all legis/laws from the 2nd wave
    • Enviro NGOs focused on priorities of Wave 1 to accomplish this, rather than controversial industry practices (e.g. animal preservation)
  • Conclusion: This created a “disastrously incomplete picture of environmetalism” b/c it left out human communities, cities, post-industrial landscapes, and challenges of sustainability.
    • EJ in the 90s sought to correct this problem
4 th wave of environmentalism
4th Wave of Environmentalism??
  • Concern over megatrends: Climate change, biodiversity loss, urbanization, modes of energy, globalization of environmental problems
  • Interconnection of Environmental change to larger scale problems: poverty, social problems, education, disease, inequality (gender, class), conflict, migration/displacement, etc.
  • Interconnection of paradigmatic approaches to problems: human rights, development, security,
  • Debate centers over solutions and scale
    • Sustainability, climate adaptation, econ development, renewable energy portfolios, security
    • Scale: global solutions vs regional or even local
new wilderness debate place
New Wilderness Debate  “Place”
  • Cronon (1995): wilderness doesn’t exist in Americas, even as early as 1492. It is a myth that rests on unsupportable metaphyscial distinction between culture and nature, but also led to bad management problems.
  • Created debate as NGOs fought back assailing Cronon’s myth of wilderness
  • “Place”: my defncombines nature/humans in a specific geographical location or community bound by shared values
  • “Local Place” locates environmentalism within one’s own community—narratives (history) in that place must be revived and honored as part of “transformation of place”
  • Problems for nature or wilderness? Is this Transformation as positive as Light believes?
thomas berry
Thomas Berry
  • Thomas Berry, “Renewal Project”
  • Dream of the Earth, Ch 3, “Human Presence”
setting up the dream
Setting Up the “Dream”
  • “For too long we have been away somewhere, entranced with our industrial world of wires and wheels, concrete and steel, and our unending highways, where we race back and forth in continual frenzy.” (p1)
  • Causes me to reflect “on what we have gained and what we have lost in the lifestyle that we have adopted; on the encompassing technocratic, manipulative world that we have established; even on the sense of religion that we have developed. We must not overromanticize primitivism…yet when we witness the devastation we have wrought on this lovely continent, and even throughout the planet, and consider what we are doing now, we must reflect.” (p8)
  • “Our relationship to earth involves something more than pragmatic use, academic understanding, or aesthetic appreciation. A truly human intimacy with the earth and with the entire natural world is needed.” (p 13)
issue role of humans
Issue: Role of Humans

2 fold

  • 1. “we find ourselves pondering the role of the human within the life systems of earth” (p36)
  • 2. what is the human purpose and how does this connect to the divine through earth’s bounty?
problem destruction of earth
Problem: Destruction of Earth
  • “Through human presence the forests of earth are destroyed. Fertile soils become toxic and then wash away in the rain or blow away in the wind. Mountains of human-derived waste grow ever higher. Wetlands are filled in. Each year approx ten thousand species disappear forever. Even the ozone layer above the earth is depleted. Such disturbance in the natural world coexists with all those ethnic, political and religious tensions that pervade the human realm. Endemic poverty is pervasive in the Third World, while in the industrial world people drown in their own consumption patterns. Population increase threatens all efforts at improvement.” (p36)
cause human entrancement
Cause: Human Entrancement
  • “By the mid-18th C the invention of new technologies had begun whereby we could manipulate our environment to our own advantage. At this time also an “objective world” was born—a world clearly distinct from ourselves and available not as a means of divine communication, but as a vast realm of natural resources for exploitation and consumption.” (p40)
  • “…That is what needs to be explained—our entrancement with an industrially driven consumer society. Until we have explained the situation to ourselves, we will never break the spell that has seized us. We will continue to be subject to this fatal attraction.” (p 38)
  • “Much of our trouble during these past 2 centuries has been cause by our limited…modes of thought. We centered ourselves on the individual, on personal aggrandizement, on a competitive way of life, and on the nation, or the community of nations, as the guarantor of freedom to pursue these purposes.” (p44)
transition to ecological age
Transition: to Ecological Age
  • “Our present awakening from this enchantment with technology has been particularly painful. We have altered the earth and human life in irrevocable ways…most of been destructive beyond imagination.” (p41)
  • “We are entering another historical period, one that might designated as the ecological age…in that its primary meaning as the relation of an organism to its environment, but also as an indication of the interdependence of all the living and nonliving systems of the earth.” (p42-3).
      • A) human-nature relationship; B) interconnection of all
how humans as conscious agents
How: Humans as Conscious Agents
  • “It is not simply adaptation to a reduced supply of fuels or to some modification in our system of social or economic controls. What is happening is something of a far greater magnitude. It is a radical change in our mode of consciousness.” (p42)
  • “What is happening is unthinkable in ages gone by. We now control forces that once controlled us, or, more precisely, the earth process that formerly administered the earth directly is now accomplishing this task in and through the human as its conscious agent.” (p42)
solution way forward
Solution: Way Forward
  • “No adequate scale of action can be expected until the human community is able to act in some unified way to establish a functional relation with the earth process, which itself does not recognize national boundaries…a primary allegiance to this larger community is needed. It will do little good for any nation to seek its own well-being by destroying the very conditions for planetary survival.” (p43)
  • “The earth is mandating that the human community assume a responsibility never assigned to any previous generation…the human community is passing from its stage of childhood into its adult stage of life. We must assume adult responsibilities.”( p47)
3 principles for ecological age
3 Principles for Ecological Age
  • “the Ecological age must now activate these principles in a universal context if the human venture is to continue.” (p44)
  • 1. Differentiation: Diversity of life and mulitiple modes of expression
  • 2. Subjectivity: psychic unity increases with greater complexity of being…to connect to the greater universe and Earth becomes subject to “free interplay of self-determining forces.”
  • 3. Communion: Unity of connection with the universe—a single, if multiform, energy event.
the future
The future
  • “Ecological age into which we are presently moving is an opposed, though complimentary, age that succeeds the technological age.”
  • Governing Principles of the Universe: “In a deeper sense this new age takes us back to certain basic aspects of the universe which were evident to the human mind from its earliest period, but which have been further refined, observed, and scientifically stated in more recent centuries.”
  • “The ecological age must now activate these [governing] principles in a universal context if the human venture is to continue.” (p44).
  • “Only such a comprehensive vision can produce the commitment required to stop the world of exploitation, of manipulation, of violence so intense that it threatens to destroy not only the human city, but also the planet itself.” (p46-7)
cosmology of peace
Cosmology of Peace
  • Complimentary creativity is needed with primary concern the survival of earth in its functional integrity
  • A second concern is to “see the human itself as an integral member of the earth community…[while] the issue of interhuman tensions is secondary to earth-human relations.”
    • Chicken-egg Q on interhuman relations
  • Proposes: Cosmology of Peace”the human must be seen in its cosmological role just as the cosmos needs to be seen in its human manifestation.”
    • Arrogant? True?
  • “Until the human is understood as a dimension of the earth we have no secure basis for understanding any aspect of the human.” (p219)
four aspects of cosmology of peace
Four Aspects of Cosmology of Peace
  • 1. Earth is a single organic reality whose integrity must be maintained
  • 2. Peace of Earth is a creative process activated by polarity tensions requiring endurance
  • 3. Progressive dependence on human decisions
  • 4. Hopefulness
guiding questions for analysis paper
Guiding Questions for Analysis Paper
  • What is Berry’s focus? How is prioritizing our needs in this move into an “Ecological Age”? What is his vision?
  • What are the issues that Berry is identifying in our current structure that generate mass environmental degradation and depletion of “earth’s functional integrity”? What specifically needs to change?
  • What do you see as the primary obstacles to this transition? Obstacles/limitations to Berry’s vision?
  • How does this compare with Light’s piece? Would a sense of “place” offer a different path to environmental protection and/or rejuvenation from Berry? Explain.