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.
When it comes to animal rights, I do not think that animals should be forced to live in deplorable conditions just so that humans can to the local fast food restaurant to get a burger for less than a dollar. However I do not think that animals need to be treated luxuriously either. I think that giving animals the ability to stand and walk around while we are fatting them up for consumption is the least we could do as humans. This would be beneficial for both the animals and for humans sanitation worries. Experimentation on animals can be a tricky subject because it is cruel to subject these animals to this torture in order to find what products work the best. However I believe there have been many medical breakthroughs that have been made possible due to the use of lab rats and other animals. Most of those rats are made in a lab so it is hard to define if they should get the same rights even though they would not exist without the purpose of experimentation. Also I still believe human lives are valued higher than animals because that is what I value, so medical research to save lives is well worth the lives of rats. However animals shouldn’t be put through pain just to see what hairspray works best.
It is also important to think about those animals who we do not use in a largely utilization basis. There are also those animals whose habitat we are destroying in order to make more suburbs and factories. Their rights to their habitats where their species has adapted to live in should be taken into account. I do believe speciesism is a real thing but I do not believe that it is necessarily bad as long as it is used in moderation. Human survival is different than destroying the rain forest so that you can build a third house. There needs to be societal shift in thinking so that we may include what is best for the environment when making our decisions in the future. There should be no wasteful and reckless killing of animals who are not in our species. Whether treating animals poorly translates to treating humans poorly has yet to be determined. While I’m sure all those who treat humans poorly most likely treat animals poorly as well I do not believe that it necessarily works in the reverse.
The common idea today is that economic progress will inevitably cause environmental issues. However it is possible to have environmentally conscious as well as economically beneficial decisions when people have to pay for environmental damage that they incur. I do think that economics have caused a disconnect with the natural world because money is what everyone needs to live and it is not always the most economically cheapest decision to go with what is environmentally beneficial. It may sometimes be hard to choose between the values that your religion taught you and making more money. Another example would be Hinduism in India. To Hindus, everything in nature has a divine presence and should be treated as such. However, India is one of the most rapidly growing countries in the world and has an economy that is booming. They have many practices that are damaging the planet in order to get ahead financially.
I feel that economic well being is important to a point but then it becomes excessive. Everyone should have a basic standard of living but people do not need to replace their new phone every three months. There is a standard of living that needs to be met by everyone or else they will be more worried about surviving than the health of the planet. But if people cared less about materialistic things and more about the environment, I believe we would see an extremely positive impact.
After reading the article by Michael Berliner the view point may seem pretty severe, however there are groups of people in the world who truly believe much of that article is true. Below is a link to a video called “If I wanted America to Fail”. The video is solely about how the environmental movement would completely destroy the US economy, similar to what Berliner alluded to when he suggested that environmentalism is anti-industry. The man in the video describes environmental policy as a “economic suicide pact”. Berliner brings up a good point the intrinsic value is not the same for everybody so can that be used as a solid argument to make decisions?
Do you think that a more eco-friendly government will lead to a economic downturn? Should we guilt Americans to pay more for fossil fuel energy so that they may rely more on renewable resources? Can the globe run on “wind power and wishes” or will humans be reliant on fossil fuels until the are no longer available? Is it possible to find a middle ground that satisfies both parties in terms of economic and governmental policy?
I do not believe that humans are practicing biodiversity preservation in a way that is intensely effective. Many people understand the benefits of biodiversity but they do not know to what extent it is crucial for human survival. Even with the knowledge, there is still deforestation and suburban development happening to an extreme extent. There has been improvement in the education of importance of biodiversity and ways to counteract loss. However these practices are being implemented on a large enough scale. The rate of extinction is extraordinary and more species are becoming endangered every hour.
Some people believe that survival of the fittest is taking over, however the changes that humans are creating are happening too quickly. Evolution takes time over generations, thousands if not millions of years, and yet people are surprised when animals are not able to adapt to changes over decades. Animals, such as the sea turtles from the article, have been programmed to do the same things that there ancestors did because that is how they have repopulated in the past. Now these sudden changes occur and rather than being able to slowly adapt, they die out entirely. This is not because those animals are less smart or fit, it is because their surrounding changed so drastically that it is no longer able to sustain their lifestyle. One major example is climate change, which is causing animals to migrate to higher altitudes or latitudes. However, the resources they need may not be present in the new environment. An increase in temperature has never happened this rapidly and ecosystems are not able to adjust. All things are interconnected and when one part changes or dies out, it can have a substantial effect on all of the other parts in the ecosystem.
Instrumental value systems of nature have caused a divide between humans and all other living things. Even though weak anthropocentrism warrants a rational for use of nature for resources; it still only sees nature for what humans can take out. A separation is created because people do not see nature as having value if they cannot use it for something that they desire. This is contrasted by the intrinsic value of nature, which sees ecosystems as being valuable for what they are rather than what they possess. However, there is still a humanly assessed subjective intrinsic value which is different for every person. The objective intrinsic value is the only view that is independent of humans and evolutionarily independent. This makes defending intrinsic values difficult because it can also be subjective and not easily palpable. I believe that intrinsic value of nature is critical if the goal is preservation but unnecessary if conservation is desired. Intrinsic value is very firm in recognizing nature as more than resources so there should be not extraction rather than wise use in conservation.
I do not think that technological advances directly force a detachment between humans and nature but that is most likely what will happen. Technology can be used to make lives more environmentally friendly, but it may cause people to live in a bubble where they do not enjoy the outdoors. I believe that humans are connected to the planet in a certain intangible way and that long term separation will cause undesired effects on the human body and psyche.