Economic needs and concerns have always existed and will continue to exist indefinitely. There is no reason to expect that economics alone is directly linked to environmental degradation or poor treatment of the land.
Technology, on the other hand, is more closely related to current treatment of the land. The issue at hand is not an economic incentive to treat the land in a particular way. There has always been an economic incentive, in the short term, to pillage the land and exploit its resources, leading to an overall degradation of land and environmental quality. Rather, the issue is capacity. With advancements in technology, the capacity to alter the land and the degree to which exploitation is possible has increased dramatically—to previously inconceivable levels. The economic forces that encourage this behavior have not changed over the years, only the technology that makes it possible.
I would argue that religion has played a minor role in this process. In fact, if more people applied their religious beliefs as an environmental ethic, sincerely, I would expect more people to identify as environmentalists. Christian environmentalists are one such example of this.
The final question contains a false premise. It assumes that placing “a lesser focus on economic well-being” is both possible and necessary for allowing people “to tune into what they truly need for their own survival and well-being.” Most importantly, economic well-being is necessary for one’s own survival. The objective should be seeking a synthesis of economic well-being and environmental health or sustainability. Incentivizing progress in environmentally beneficial technologies, focusing on poverty reduction, and phasing out environmentally hazardous technologies are some important steps towards this objective.