Religious Environmental Ethics
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AbstractSince the beginning, humanity has been nourished by the various elements that constitute nature. However, use of the diverse renewable and non-renewable resources at our disposal, such as water, soil, fossil fuels, and metals, have not until quite recently translated into the abuse of our environment. While the west is encountering problems of waste and pollution due to overconsumption and prosperity, India is facing the same troubles due to overpopulation and severe poverty. Due to the reality that our earth is, for the most part, a closed system, we must come to terms with the fact that sustainability is the means to a continued survival. Environmental ethics inculcate a precious code in the individuals and societies and ought to be developed in each person, to command him/her as a force from within to make decisions and take actions on the different aspects of the environment which are not harmful to the local, national and international community. Environmental ethics has to sharpen the judgments of a person not to jeopardize the health and security of other fellow beings for the sake of material and political gains. The ethics command us not to endanger the health of an individual and communities, but to serve as a proud and honest person in the service of humanity. Environmental ethics is a shouting match between caricatures – between romantic, uninformed, antiscientific ―Greens‖ also called as Environmental holists (reflecting Eco-centric worldview) and unscrupulous, insensitive industrialists and developers called as Technocratic individualists (reflecting Anthropocentric worldview). Proponents of both extreme positions often fail to trace the logical consequences of their ideas. A middle path towards a culture of sustainability and permanence is advocated. Religion plays a great role in shaping our attitude towards the natural world. Long before Environment became the refrain of the global song at Stockholm and Rio, the ancient Indic heritage had already provided a spacious spiritual home for the environmental ethos. The Hindu, Islam, Jain, Vedic and Buddhist traditions established the principles of ecological harmony centuries ago - not because the world was perceived as heading for an imminent environmental disaster or destruction, nor because of any immediate utilitarian exigency, but through its quest for spiritual and physical symbiosis, synthesized in a system of ethical awareness and moral responsibility. It has rightly been said “The environmental crisis is an outward manifestation of the crisis of mind and spirit”. It all depends upon how do we think and act. If we want to check the environmental crisis, we will have to transform our thinking and attitude. That in turn would transform our deeds, leading to a better environment and better future. Environmental ethics can provide the guidelines for putting our beliefs into actions and help us to decide what to do for protecting the mother earth.