Sunday, December 8, 2013

A review of 'Masterworks of Man & Nature: Preserving our world heritage'

I came across this book in my collection and was reading through it when I came across page 41 with the header "An Urgent Call to Replenish the Earth". It is a statement or a call to action from the late Charles Birch, Emeritus Professor at the University of Sydney and a winner of the Templeton award. I'm not a fan of that foundation but the things Professor Birch points out on this page are hard ignore. Below are some excerpts:

"The sort of society we are building with the aid of science and technology has built-in, self-destructive features." 

"That there are limits to the resources of the Earth and the capacity of the Earth to cope with pollution of its water and atmosphere, has led to what is known as the 'impossibility theorem'. This states that the high rates of consumption and pollution of the rich nations would be impossible for all the peoples of the earth."

The most compelling section started with the following statement. 

"The rich must live more simply so that the poor may simply live." 

We are seeing the problems of a world where the goal is capitalism for all nations in the images this weekend from China and the severe pollution problem starting to engulf their cities. Professor Birch asks the question of whether we can morally justify a way of life that would be impossible for the rest of the world to enjoy without destroying the resources we all need for survival. He continues on to posit that the rest of nature has intrinsic value beyond its use to us or to our ecosystems survival and that we have a moral obligation to preserve the world around us. 

"It is not ony the basis of human life that is being destroyed by our activities. We are annihilating at least one thousand species who share the planet with us each year. This is nothing less than a holocaust of nature."

Professor Birch continues on to compare the period of the Enlightenment and the development of a theory for human rights and advances toward social justice to a hope for a new enlightenment of our age extending those concepts to all living things. 

"Every nation desperately needs to discover a vision of the future. Is all that matters increased GNP, reduced inflation and reduced overseas debt? Instead of measuring national health in terms of economic growth we could set our eyes on a more worthy goal. There is indeed such a goal that all could aspire to. It is for healthy people in a healthy environment with healthy relations to that environment, which includes the non-human creatures who share the earth with us." 

The question that comes next is the one I most wish to pose to all of us in all nations. Unfortunately this post will most likely pass into anominity like most things on the internet except videos of kittens and puppies. So I will leave you with this picture and say spread the word for the kittens and puppies. 

20120710 Kitten Winking 005 by cygnus921, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  cygnus921 

"Are we willing to pay the price of the redemption of that part of the earth we inhabit in terms of a revolution in values, in life styles, in economic and political goals and even in the nature of the science and technology we practise? The stage is set. Whether the play can be performed before the theatre burns down remains to be seen." - Charles Birch

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