chapter  13
19 Pages

End of Days? Religion and the Environment

No living thing-no plant, microbe, or animal-exists on this earth without havingan impact on the natural world around it. Humans are no exception, as historianLynn White argued in his 1967 Science article “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis”:

Ever since man became a numerous species he has affected his environment notably. The hypothesis that his fire-drive method of hunting created the world’s great grasslands and helped to exterminate the monster mammals of the Pleistocene from much of the globe is plausible, if not proved. For 6 millennia at least, the banks of the lower Nile have been a human artifact rather than the swampy African jungle, which nature, apart from man, would have made it . . . In many regions terracing or irrigation, overgrazing, the cutting of forests by Romans to build ships to fight Carthaginians or by Crusaders to solve the logistics problems of their expeditions, have profoundly changed some ecologies . . . Quite unintentionally, changes in human ways often affect nonhuman nature. It has been noted, for example, that the advent of the automobile eliminated huge flocks of sparrow that once fed on the horse manure littering every street. (1203)

1. What is environmentalism, and what does religion have to do with it?