I do think that a severe between humans relationship with nature is possible, however I do not think that is the way we as a species are heading. In order for a separation it would need to be extreme disconnect and even still the processes that exchange nutrients and gases still interact with the environment. Rather, I feel that humans are trying to go in a direction of coexistence and sustainability because we realize our deep roots in our surroundings. This is interesting when considering our consumer society because consumerism and sustainability do not coincide. Consumerism became so engrained in our capitalist society after the world wars that it may be possible to replace them with another way of life. Some of people who work in the production portion of our society would need to find jobs that does not entail creating new products every six months. It would be a shift in every aspect of American society.
Capitalism is a system of survival of the fittest in businesses and the way businesses survive is if people buy things. That is why I do not think it is possible to have capitalism in a perfectly sustainable way. I do believe however that spirituality including Christianity and Judaism can be sustainable. Some of the ideas need to be adapted to modern times. The base ideas of caring for others and the planet are implanted in the writings they just need to be emphasized. In order to have an ideal society, I do not think monetary values can exists and everyone needs to share so that everyone has what they need. This is not ideal to some people and sounds like communism so it is difficult to envision a perfect society because that will probably never exist as someone will always be left unhappy.
Water is the source of life and has been the foundation of humanity’s development throughout our years on this planet. Water shortages represent a concern that a government must face and be made its primary concern. Water is a basic need that is taken for granted and abused by most industrialized society. Today we face major global catastrophes, whether they are environmental, economical, or anthropocentric disasters. Water shortage is but one of the many problems that has come to light due to a rise in our global catastrophe’s. It is too late to solve or have any immediate solution to water shortage, because put simply this minor basic need issue stems from other much larger issues created by humanity. The answer really lies in how we change the social contingencies that have reinforced the behavior of overusing water and viewing this elixir of life with disrespect.
Industrialized societies will view water as just another commodity where they can dump their waste and not think twice about the effects it will have in the future. If we are to have some hope in our future and to mitigate the issue with water shortages we must move toward stricter laws that change the behavior of abusing water. Stricter Laws combined with technology can move us toward a brighter future. We have the power to make a change through education and taking more collective action in our government to make a change in what is in place now. The hope lies in us loosening the grip corporations have on the governments that represent us the proletariat class.
I think capitalism will eventually have to be phased out if we are going to truly have an ecological society. In the beginning, capitalism will be necessary to give the social ecology movement the momentum it needs. It would take much longer to achieve the realization of an ecological society without it. However, if consumption is the problem, we cannot consume our way out of it. Green products are a great step in the right direction but the collaborative consumerism discussed previously in class should be the ultimate goal.
I do believe humans can eventually sever our tangible connection to nature. We can distance ourselves from the outside world, from interacting with the physical parts of nature, as we continue to depend more and more upon technology to help us with the most basic tasks. I thoroughly appreciate my smartphone and my laptop, but it has become clear to me just how crippling these devices can be. The time my computer crashed provides a great example. Seeing my screen go black and being unable to turn it back on initially incited a feeling of panic. After placing it in the hands of a specialist, I had the most relaxing three days of my semester. Being unable to use my computer allowed to me engage in other things I enjoyed, even while I was acutely aware of how heavily I depended on technology. I realized that it is incredibly useful, but it can also incapacitate me from completing the most basic tasks on my own. Using other resources, like the library, to find information instead of just googling the topic is a simple example. Our escalating dependence on technology decreases our desire to engage with the outside world and in that we lose our tangible connection to nature.
I do think we will always have an intangible connection, however. I don’t know how far the connection extends, but I do believe we are connected to nature in some way. Harming the earth inevitably harms us, but beyond an anthropocentric view, we were meant to be in communion with nature. I hold this belief as part of my Christian faith. According to the Biblical point of view, God created the Garden of Eden in the beginning with man and woman living in peace with all nature and animals. That was how it was created to be. We have cast that opportunity aside but it still stands as the ideal.
The attitude towards nature constantly changes with the state of affairs and how we as a society and global community need to develop. I believe that adapting the view stated by McGaa would not solve the major problems such a deforestation, population control, and pollution but help us to better understand how we can move forward from these issues and create a practical solution to help all of humanity. The Native American tradition dictates that we are on the same level as Mother Nature and share all of the same values and same space, which is not the case as you can see over human evolution and time has taken place. I believe that McGaa’s argument for the moral respect of nature including “A belief system, an ultimate moral attitude, and a set of rules of duty and standards of character,” needs to be implemented before any major change can occur. When ethics are involved it is important to note that each person has their won view on ethics and their own belief system, however the common ground between everyone’s different views is where progress is made. The environment needs to last forever and for the future generations to be plighted because of our mistakes is unfair on all of society, especially us who believe that the environment is ours to use.
I believe that there is a significant role played by human emotions when defining if something has life or not in determining animal rights. The process needs to account for all physical and emotional harm done to the animal when determining rules and regulations for animal rights, however I believe the largest factor is the human ability for compassion and justice, which animals do not have. When determining animal rights, humans come up with the legislation that gets passed into law, not animals. Humans are the activists for the animals and we are define what rules we have to follow for the sake of all animals. I believe that our system should be a tiered system with animals that have the most feeling and least compatibility to humans at the top, and animals with the least amount of feeling and most compatibility to humans at the bottom. From there we are able to differentiate which animals we want to use for testing and which animals we would not. The value on this system allows us as humans to get the most out of the animals that will be in the least amount of pain. It is my belief that animals are for human’s benefit, especially as we are atop the food chain, and we can learn from testing we do on animals. While this may not all be moral or just, I believe that a human’s life is more valuable than an animal.
One of the most important ways to ensure social sustainability is to improve social problems. By that I mean improving overall quality of life for people. This includes moving further away from patriarchal ways of thinking, caring for our people rather than allowing this political and financial polarization to take place, treating corporations like people, etc. I strongly believe that development starts with the positive treatment of people, not trying to suck everything you can from them. As far as the population goes, I don’t really see a possible solution. At this point our population will continue to be ever growing and I think it’s too late to reverse what’s happened.
However, I do think we might have a chance at slowing it. Already we see contraceptives are easily accessible, but I don’t think that’s enough. I think we need to enforce sex education as much as possible in schools, and even universities. I think this will mildly help to slow population growth. Overall, the betterment of our world will stem the treatment of our people, and especially how they are educated.
When Brookchin talks about addressing the “economic, ethnic, cultural, and gender conflicts” as a way to fight ecological problems, I believe he is correct. Even though many of us would not want it to be this way, it is not possible to address environmental issues without first dealing with social ones.
The implementation of what I consider the main point o Brookchin’s social ecology, a more direct form of democracy, or a more radical democracy, on a large scale would definitely change the world. But knowing what would result of the world that comes from that is hard to tell. Many people tend to believe that if power were more decentralized many of the problems we have today would be dealt with, if cities had the power to fight big business they would do so, and if citizens were in direct control of their government they would do what is right, but I am not sure I believe this. If every community tried their own way, most of them would fail, and fail miserably. With that said, I’m a believer in decentralization, and I believe we need a lot of it in this country.