Different Approaches to Environment

Monday, 15th October 2007 at 11:02 UTC Leave a comment

When I was wondering what to write about in my actual Blog Action Day posting, I came to the conclusion I would have to write about some aspect of the way I come to engage with issues around the environment. Then I realised that my approach points on the issue, or more correctly, issues, is or are very diverse. I am informed by concerns for personal habitat, the micro-environment within which I live, but also by concern for the world’s poorest and how they might be affected if their environment were disrupted.

My environment is quite important to me and I can get pretty picky about the environment I’m in and how I feel is often a response to it. I guess I’m just very easily phased by stuff. The way I react when I’m in a darkened street, the way I react in a posh hotel or someone’s house I’ve not visited before, when discussing stuff with important people and when I’m in a meeting, a house or a church where I feel at home; they’re all different, and I’m aware that I often feel less genuine in some of these places because of it. I know where I’d like to be, but sometimes life takes me into rather peculiar situations and I’m now more aware than ever of how badly I sometimes cope.

I think also in terms of the Environment as being simply another word for Creation; and from that, the ways in which we have moved from co-existence, a caring, balanced relationship, to domination, to destruction and total disregard, without even beginning to consider what implications this relationship between ourselves and created might imply about our relationship with the creator.

Indeed I find it more or less infuriating when people manage to so flagrantly ignore the opposite side of the triangle in this set of relationships: how can we truly have intimacy with a creator God and not have love for that which God created? It seems almost incomprehensible and has become, over the last few years at least, anathema to me in the very deepest religious sense of the word. I will get told off by the atheists reading this, but I have far less trouble understanding why an atheist might have little to no care for the world.

If the call to love the created as a gift, or even a loan, from the creator calls us to a non-dominatory outlook, then this is entirely coherent with an anarchist perspective, which, generally without the concept of a God, basically points to our attempts to control and coerce the Earth into subservience to our needs. I find this area to be one of the easiest to bridge from one to the other, and writing a paragraph which transitions between the two feels entirely natural.

So I stand at the Anarchist approach, seeing that my intended relationship with the Environment I find myself in should match the intentions I have for a system which shows equality and breaking down of power structures. And this in turn leads me to challenge usage of the planet which ignores, dis-empowers, and ultimately endangers those who are at global society’s margins, be they the Inuit in Alaska and Canada, the Papuans who’s entire holy mountain was levelled to the ground by a major mining firm (I’m away from my copy of No Logo, I’m afraid) or others who are suffering.

It is for exactly this reason that I oppose GMO’s. They are a clear sign of exactly what is wrong with our assumed relationship between us and nature:companies distributing ‘terminator seeds’ that will produce seedless crops, ensuring year-by-year sales and total reliance on a multinational company which has neither respect for planet nor inhabitants, and which develops seeds to be resistant to fertilisers which it can then use in copious amounts; seeing as they fail to immunise the farmers or there communities in any way, it is no surprise that the people living near the fields suffer as a result of toxic chemicals being poured on in pursuit of profit.

And I see nature fighting back against this. From the monstrous tragedy of The Tsunami (or indeed, any destructive tsumani) to Hurricane Katrina striking at the heart of the American sense that humanity is taming nature, we are seeing nature refuse to suffer silently. I find this idea that we will somehow tame nature to be really quite worrying, by the way. The Aborigines of Australia show more wisdom when they point out to us in the west that it is not the humans who own the Earth, but the Earth that owns all of us; I find this illustration incredibly challenging because I recognise it contains so much truth and so much of a warning to us all.

I’m aware that I have many reasons to want to look after the environment, but whether or not I manage is another matter. I’m aware that I do well at speaking truth to power without quite working the truth into my life all of the time, and that I could do better. I just hope this has shown some of the different motivations from I draw.


Entry filed under: Climate Change, Culture, Environment, Human Rights, Indigenous Rights, Sustainability, Technology.

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