I certainly think that the advent of industrialization and technological innovation has lessened the influence of eastern religions that emphasize affinity with nature. Because economic growth in capitalist societies has led to environmental degradation and exploitation for the purpose of consumption, nature’s value has been inherently lessened. Buddhism’s emphasis on the development of empathy with the natural environment is threatened when a society like modern-day Japan places value on industrialism rather than religious and personal growth. Thus, it seems as though the tenets of Buddhism may be becoming less practical in today’s technological society.
I don’t necessarily think an economic growth mindset is the primary reason why individuals engage in activities that do not go hand-in-hand with environmental health. Rather, I think the mindset that greater consumption=greater happiness is the issue. If people change their worldview into a more simplistic one a’ la Thoreau and focus namely on subsistence needs, there is a much greater chance for appreciating the environment and considering oneself to be a member of a larger biotic community.