Environmentalism: A Human Issue
Environmental issues are often framed as a matter that only the Left cares about. The Right is framed as only caring about maximizing profits and defending big corporations who pollute our air, soil and water.
A Mother Jones piece flat out asks, “When did Republicans start hating the environment?”
Ironically, Republicans have in the past been at the forefront of the Environmentalist movement. Richard Nixon, a Republican, was the one who ordered the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Environmentalism is an issue which should be important to everyone, regardless of creed. According to the World Health Organization, there are seven million preventable deaths each year that are linked to air pollution. The major causes of death in China are related to air and water pollution. India reported one million deaths due to air pollution.
This is not just an issue that affects less developed nations. In the US, there are around two-hundred-thousand deaths a year related to air pollution.
What is at the root of our current environmental disaster?
Some people blame capitalism. They argue that corporations are inherently greedy and have little concern for the future. The profit motive, these critics say, means that these corporations are more concerned with generating profits, rather sustaining the future in the long-term. This argument is quite unfair to companies who do take an active interest in the environment.
Seventh Generation is one such company whose very aim is to create environmentally sustainable products, specifically bio-degradable cleaning products. Method is another company that creates environmentally friendly cleaning products. There are companies like Go Lite which uses recycled nylon and polyester in its products. In fact, corporations have a vested interest in protecting the environment which many of them are starting to realize. Unless we conserve our resources, there won’t be a free market as there won’t be any sort of market at all. In addition, China is a communist country rooted in anti-capitalist ideology and they have some of the worst environmental records in the world, much moreso that the environment that consists in the free market United States.
Of course, the wonderful thing about the free market is that it naturally fills available needs. Since there is a demand for environmentally safe products, companies will naturally arise to fill that niche.
Others blame Christianity for our environmental problems. To be frank, this is just silly. Christianity reveres everything in nature as God’s creation. Water, bread, wine and oil are materials from the natural world which are used in Christian ritual and regarded as carrying or being symbolic of God’s grace in the sacraments. In addition, Christians have a rather good environmental track record. The Christian Middle Ages saw the first environmental protection laws such as a twelfth century law in Marseilles that required harbor workers to clean up trash so that it would not accumulate. Hindu India, on the other hand, is struggling with severe pollution problems.
The roots of the environmental disaster we currently face is not the result of ideology or religion and blame for it cannot be heaped upon capitalists, socialists, communists, Christians, atheists, Hindus, pantheists, or any other group someone might wish to blame.
Blame for it falls upon those individuals who have put profits before people or have no regard for the future and have polluted our air, our water and our soil.
In the same way, it is individuals who are the key to solving the environmental disaster. More people and organizations are becoming aware of the problems of pollution and beginning to do something about it. There are companies who have invested in the future of our planet and individuals who are trying to make a difference. Together, we can solve this crisis without having to claim our ideological positions.