As mans attitude towards nature evolved, western culture perceived manas the central and most important part of nature. This egocentric attitudehas acted to the extreme detriment of nature. Yes, I believe this to betrue and I will prove it by looking at resourcism and speciesism.
Resourcism is the exploitation of the worlds resources. Ourconsumption rate, especially in the western world, is overwhelming. In thebeginning, we were a hunter and gatherer society, perceiving man andanimals as equals. Everything was shared, there was no claims of ownership,especially land. The two most significant events in our conquest of theplanet was the creation of agriculture and the industrial revolution. Thedevelopment of agriculture gave us control over what we grew and ate. Massamounts of land were cleared in order to make room for new crop fields.
Science is considered to be knowledge, knowledge is power and thereforescience is mastery. The continued advancement of science created what isknown as the industrial revolution. This is where our over consumptionbegan. We were now able to drill into the earth and extract unrenewableresources and make them into many new products. This attitude of power andcontrol over the resources of the earth has lead us to think of ourselvesas the most important part of nature. We took what the earth had to offer,and there was no one to stop us.
Speciesism is the exploitation of plants and animals. At first, wefeared animals but once we domesticated animals we gained a sense of powerand dominance. We now view animals as commodities, curiosities, and even asour selves. As commodities, we sell, buy and hunt animals. Fish areconsidered to be a commodity, so are domesticated animals as well as somewild animals. As curiosities, we have animals for entertainment. Zoos,circuses, bullfights, marine land, etc. . The problem with this is theanimals are kept in cages and often have poor living conditions, they areto some, being held captive. Many people would prefer watching them intheir natural habitats doing natural things. Bears do not normally roll onballs in bright coloured skirts just so people can laugh. This is degradingto the animals but once again it reminds us that we are the top species,the one who controls all the others. We even view animals as our selves,this is true when it comes to children’s enjoyment. Stuffed animals,cartoons and especially Walt Disney depict animals as humans. In cartoonswe see animals talking like us, walking like us, doing all the things wenormally do. Children are exposed to this egocentric attitude at a veryearly age, almost every child will want to visit disney world. With plants,it is in our gardening that we exemplify control. We all know of thoselarge gardens with mazes that are geometrically correct, notice how everyhedge is trimmed perfectly. In the hunter and gather society, theirhierarchy had animals and humans as equals, but today we have god at thetop, humans in the middle and nature at the bottom. Some believe thatanimals were created for our benefit this belief which I hold myself comesfrom Genesis, the first book in the bible. Chapter 1, verse 26 says “AndGod said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let themhave dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, andover the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing thatcreepeth upon the earth”.
In conclusion, we now view our selves as the central and mostimportant part of nature. It is this new attitude that has acted to theexcessive degradation of nature. Things are still in the process ofchanging, with the environment high on our list of priorities, we arebeginning to view nature in a different light, as something to be protectedand preserved for future generations.