The ultimate solution to solving the world’s water problem lies in education and/or radical grassroot political change. As of now, many people in developed countries who do not witness the problem firsthand don’t see water as a finite resource and as a result, economic value is not placed on water as it should be. In terms of law-making versus technology, I believe that the law side of dealing with water resources holds more weight so long it is properly enforced. The technological side of water purification and efficient distribution can be viewed as a tool, but without the funding of a law-oriented government system, it does not have the same public effect. Overall, however, water scarcity issues are weighted heavily on money and such law-making methods does not always play out the same way in different countries. Developing countries without the same funding for law enforcement may not experience any sort of change from new policy that passes; when it comes to survival, a law may not hold any weight. Developed countries also tend to neglect water resources and place Christmas shopping and national sports games above water litigation because the former makes more money.
To stop our wasteful use of drinkable water, we must make individual strives to conserve. Without these initial efforts, any extra change will be quite difficult if not hypocritical in nature.
It’s important to note the progression of environmental degradation in different societies but it is even more important to look for the causes of such degradation. In the case of Japan and Buddhism, the correlation between pollution and mindset may not be correlated as one would expect. However, such relationships (especially causation) for such an expansive religion is not so easy to find. What is more relevant, I believe, is that the Buddhist mindset is not necessarily what is causing the harm.
While many topics in ethics emphasize the importance of religious and educational renewal, technological advances have severely caused a disconnect between humans and the land. In some ways, technology allows us to delve deeper and understand more on a smaller scale. However, the type of inspection that most governments fund have more to do with economic profitablity and human-use and less with understanding and appreciation. Such power in economic systems may be what trumps any religious effectiveness. For example, in many tribal African communities, the native’s spiritual appreciation for wild animals may be over-powered by the human-interests for rainforest resource use.
Ideally, a less-economic based world would allow for more appreciation and less environmental harm, but we are beyond that point of return. Looking into the methods that work and those that don’t is what we must continue to do. The world is by no means focused on a common environmental goal, but if more and more individuals open up to the idea, an in-tune appreciation should slowly follow.
Religion can certainly have an enormous impact on environmental ideals as we have read about in terms of Abrahamic and Non-Abrahamic cultures. Whether it is good or bad is a question that is highly individualized and difficult to answer clearly. Forms of Chrisitanity based on the book of Genesis (Lynn White) make non-human goods into instruments, while Judaism (also based on Genesis) has a stronger stewardship component. No universal religion will arise anytime soon, but through a pluralistic system, we may be able to exentuate the stewardship that many religions have in common. I believe that the idea of respect and reverence found throughout all religion is the one that has great power to guide large quantities of people in positive ways.
I have not been a very religious person growing up, but I see religion as a great way to institute ethical values in large masses. The power of some religions to help people through grief and look forward to an afterlife is comforting, but it can be done in more sustainable ways. We need to take a more “earth-centered” approach that focuses on the ecological system that we are a part of. Whether religion is “good” or “bad” for the environment is highly dependent on the situation of the world. In such a world where human population is growing at great rates, I think we must use religion as an important tool to re-focus ideals towards human/nature harmony. Green Buddhism seems pretty cool to me.
The term “environmental romanticism” as something new certainly requires speculation. To a westerner, this may be a modern approach towards the environment, following our general infatuation with science and new technology. However, for many third world and “lesser developed” countries (dare we say that we are really more developed), this connection and reverence for nature has always been a way of life.
The sense of romanticism has never been as centered around humans and the individuals as it is in western societies. Anthropocentrism is no doubt a new phenomenon as humans are relatively new additions to the planet– however it may not be as wide-spread as liberal westerners may think. To an extent, humans will strive for survival as they have a desire to do so. This longing for a continuation of one’s own kind is something that most people feel is important. Yet, for the many agricultural societies of the third world, living in harmony with nature is a part of life. Rather than controlling and dominating nature as anthropocentric westerners tend to see as progressive, traditional natives adjust their lifestyles to the environment. As seen in the example of genetically modified “high-yield” seeds encouraged by the Green Revolution, the many specifically bred strains of seeds by locals were pushed out of the picture as backwards. Capitalists saw this as another chance to dominate and form an economic monopoly on these seeds. Because we have so much technology and we have had the privilege to enjoy modern luxuries, we have become blind to the biodiverse and more effective ways of the past.
As the supposed leaders of the world, developed countries need to be the ones striving for balance– a balance that I believe can be achieved. We need to open our eyes to the ways of a more traditionally-oriented society and learn from others. Maybe if we stop pushing ourselves into the affairs of the world with our pre-set interests in mind, a newer and more “in-tune” approach with nature can arise.