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Environmentalism and survival

Human activity has harmed Nature even in the antiquity, for example, many trees have been cut down and the elephants have disappeared from North Africa. But since the Industrial Revolution, the development of humankind has become so much quicker that it endangers not only Nature, but humankind itself too. In the Cold War, the opposing forces hoarded so many weapons of mass destruction that could have destroyed humankind in case of another world war. Since then, there were more and more countries which were able to create such weapons, so the danger has not ended in the beginning of the 21st century either. Afterwards, as technology advanced, newer sources of danger have appeared, for example, if someone created a virus deadly for humankind with the use of artifical intelligence and gene technology. But not only the extinction of humankind should be feared, but the rise of human suffering too. In the beginning of the 21st century we entered an age when the detrimental effects of global warming appear, the cheaper energy sources of humankind run out, the soil and freshwater run down more and more, the natural life of the oceans and primeval forests

is going to

lose areas more and more, human population


continue to rise and the rich get even more technological power. In human society, the mentioned problems could cause famines, maybe wars, and an economic crisis bigger than the previous ones. It is possible that the international environmentalist agreements will not be observed in the crisis, and this could make the problems more serious. Thus humankind who have gone far from Nature will probably suffer much, and even cannibalism can happen, but there is a great chance for the survival of the species. If humankind does not go extinct in the short term, small pests could cause problems in agriculture in the long term. What can we do in this situation?

We can start living more friendly to the environment, we can join to the environmental movement, and we can even be activists in order to reduce the future suffering in some degree. This is just like symptomatic treatment in many cases. However, if we do not only want a temporary solution, then we should find the root of the problems, and we should deactivate them. It is obvious enough that the world has changed much because of humankind's scientific and technological advancements, and problems have become greater because of overpopulation and humandkind's extravagant lifestyle. Humankind should realize sooner or later that population size should be limited, otherwise it will be limited by something worse, which comes with greater suffering. Sooner or later the irresponsible wastage, like the wastage of one-time use packaging material should be lessened to the minimum too, because it is not sustainable. For the sake of environmentalism, it would be better to lessen them sooner, and we too can make smaller steps in order to diminish them. By the way, the most important goal now is survival, and for this purpose it should be made sure that the countries which can create nuclear weapons do not use them, and people do not use other fatal technologies either, if possible. It is not enough to just disarm nuclear weapons, because people could quickly recreate them again in case of a war. Instead, such an educational and political situation should be created where the production and usage of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction becomes difficult and meaningless. Humankind should learn to forget what is worth forgetting, and it should deal with the people of Earth's different nations more and more justly.

The environmental consciousness is present in humankind, but it is a sad experience that both the private economy and the democratic politics served short-term interests, because buyers and voters have chosen the better standard of living instead of sustainability. If it goes on this way, we will probably not be able to prevent the expected crisis, and we have to take care of our own survival. We should understand what dangers are waiting for us, and how we can avoid them in our own lives. There are people who tend to prepare for a sudden, complete collapse, and their movement is called survivalism in English. They learn about emergencies much, store food and learn to use guns. There are also people who tend to prepare for a great economic crisis instead, and learn such a profession that will be needed in the crisis too. There are poorer ones who might better not beget children. There are richer people too, and they have more opportunities to prepare for the crisis. It is worth for a rich person of being surrounded by such allies whom the rich person supported before, they being grateful to the rich person. The rich person might do it well if he/she prepares to be self-sufficient and self-defensive with these people. Besides self-sufficiency, producing means of sustenance might be a way to go too. Concerning this issue, it is interesting that if someone prepares for his/her own survival, by that he/she probably helps the survival of humankind too. Because if someone prepares for the collapse, then he/she would like to reduce his/her dependent situation, and if dependence on trade lessens in the world, then the consumption which harms the environment probably lessens too.

Further readings

(these were not necessarily read by the author):

Rachel Carson - Silent Spring (Houghton Mifflin, 1962)

U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency - Worldwide Effects of Nuclear War (1975)

Lester R. Brown - World on the Edge: How to prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse? (Earth Policy Institute, 2011)

Paul R. Ehrlich, Anne H. Ehrlich - Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided? (Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biological Sciences, 2013)

Jorgen Randers (Report to the Club of Rome) - 2052 - A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012)

Environmentalism and faith

We can find many things on Earth with which we are not satisfied. We are not satisfied that we should kill animals for food, and we are not satisfied either that we should take care of removing our defecation. We are not satisfied that society obliges us for many things, and we are not satisfied either if criminals attack us. We are not satisfied with the morality of the people, nor are we satisfied with religions that make the morality of the people better, if those religions are false. But even if we were satisfied with the Earthly world, we would not be satisfied with the consciousness that we have to die. If we are harmed by these and other imperfections of our Earthly life, and we dislike it, that means that we go closer to a life which we wish. If we want to go even closer to the happy life, the place of which may be called Heaven, then it is worth of thinking on how probable is its existence, and what can we do for making it more probable to get there.

The first world religions of history tried to answer these questions too, and it may be the cause of their success. These religions were usually built around a person who was considered infallible and possessing supernatural powers, and who taught in a new way, and whose authority has grown with the spread of the religion - and afterwards, the statements attributed to the founder were proven by authority. Such an authoritarian religion was Christianity, for example. By time, it turned out that some of its statements contradict mankind's scientific advancements. Afterwards, many people ceased to be Christian, but did not cease to like the principles which they considered good in Christianity: the humanists still liked ethics, and the deists still had faith in God. In a similar manner, we may believe that wonders are possible and we can go to Heaven. However, we can approach God by understanding, and not by blind faith. The discipline which studies the arguments for the existence of God, God's attributes and God's will, is called Natural Theology. It is called so because the source of its knowledge is Nature which existed before humankind, and not sacred texts which could have been authored by wise men too.

Here we can observe that Natural Theology and environmentalism do good to each other, because the source of the knowledge about God should be protected. We may conjecture that it is also God's will that we should protect the environment, to keep his creation as beautiful as before. If we improve this world, it would be justice for us to get to a better world. Thus protecting the environment can be one aspect of the faith in God or Heaven, and because of this, protecting the true faith in God can be one aspect of environmentalism. That is why Natural Theology deserves some space here. Natural Theology is compatible not only with environmentalism, but with other religions and science, too. Other religions can have Natural Theology as a supplementary source of faith, a subject in school, a protocol between religions, or even a spiritual movement. Science is not complete either without the study of God's possible existence. Unlike the sacred texts, the teachings of Natural Theology can grow and become more and more perfect. So Natural Theology is like science, and it can be real science if it uses the methodology of real science - which is not less, but more strict than 20th century science.

If we believe in Natural Theology but not in religions, one question may arise in us: if God exists, why did he allow and probably support so many false religions? There can be different answers to this question, for example, that the religions God supported were better than those religions beside them, or that God wanted to teach us how weak we are. It is also possible that exactly those religions lived for a long time which had the support for survival of that specific religion among their inner values, and God did support them not specifically for their ethical values. Therefore we can imagine humankind's knowledge about God as a convergent series, and the successful religions as points on that series, which help us in our personal convergence towards a proper relationship with God. If not, and we do not believe in God, Natural Theology is still good to show the progress from tradition and authority to reason and better foundations.

Further readings

(these were not necessarily read by the author):

Thomas Paine - The Age of Reason (1794, 1795, 1807)

William Paley - Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity (1809, 12th edition London: Printed for J. Faulder)

Sándor Kőrösi Csoma (or Alexander Csoma Korosi) - The Life and Teachings of Buddha (1836-1890; Calcutta, 1957)

Cafer S. Yaran - Islamic Thought on the Existence of God: With Contributions from Contemporary Western Philosophy of Religion (Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Change Series IIA, Islam, Volume 16, 2003, printed in the USA)

Lee Strobel - The Case for a Creator (Zondervan, 2004)