Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Soiling our own nest: "ecology" vs "environment"

“More precisely, the crisis is that a now-globalizing culture in nature and wholly of nature runs full grain against it. A virile, comprehensive, and attractive way of life is destructive of nature and human community together – this is the crisis. Soils, peoples, air and water are being depleted and degraded together. (Or, on our better days are being sustained together.) It is not ‘the environment’ that is unsustainable. It is a much more inclusive reality, something like life-as-we-have-come-to-know-it. What we call ‘the environmental crisis’ is a sign of cultural failure, then. It is a failure to submit human power to grace and humility, and to work ‘toward the habitation of the places in which we life’ on terms that respect both human limits and the rest of nature’s. Life-as-we-have-come-to-know-it is eating itself alive. Modernity devours its own children.”

- Larry R. Rasmussen, Earth Community, Earth Ethics
(Geneva: WCC Publications, 1996), 8.

This is a good short summary of an important point. This is the reason that I generally prefer to use the term "ecology" to "environment". The environment is something around us that perhaps we might be able to imagine is disconnected from our lives. Ecology, on the other hand, comes from the Greek words for "house" (oikos) and "order" (logos), and so speaks of the proper and improper ordering of our home here on earth. Our home is a mess and is falling apart. We are soiling our own nest. We have no other place to go.


byron smith said...

Capitalism vs climate: "But there's a missing link in the discussion, ignored by nearly everyone in the mainstream debate: nature. They speak about our economy as if it were a separate entity, its own ever-expanding universe, unconnected to any realities outside itself, not embodied within a larger system from which, actually, it emerged and can't escape. Nature cannot be left out of the discussion. It may be the most important detail of the entire conversation. Leaving it out of consideration is, well, suicidal. Here's the point: never-ending growth on a small planet with finite resources is a profound impossibility. It's an absurdity. A fantasy. It's time to wake up."

byron smith said...

The Conversation: Why we need to forget about the environment.

byron smith said...

John Roe: why the link between ecology and economy can be misleading, or why thinking of the world as a household is dangerous.