All posts by dacuse

Lear and Plenty Coups: The Answers to Our Ecological Crisis

Allen Thompson’s article “Radical Hope for Living Well in a Warmer World”, explores the causes and possible solutions to our current ecological crisis. His main points rely heavily on Jonathan Lear’s opinions about consumerism and cultural change as well as his thoughts about Plenty Coups, the final chief of the Crow Nation he writes about in his book, The Radical Hope. Thompson utilizes these this information in order to further his claim about how the future needs to be supported by humans possessing resolve in living with lower standards of living to support the changes necessary to assist in solving our current ecological issues.

Lear places a lot of blame of the current damage on our ecosystem on the Industrial Revolution, and in turn, consumerism. The Industrial Revolution gave way to people expecting more from life and raising the standard of living through the advancement of technology which resulted in people’s need for more products increasing due to consumerism. This leads to Lear’s point that “Homo sapiens have been exploiting carbon-based form of energy throughout history, as relentlessly as existing technologies would permit” (Thompson 3) and have therefore largely increased the world’s carbon footprint over the years. An increased carbon-footprint has caused damage to the atmosphere that, without any solution, will cause irreversible damage. This can be solved however, by future generations creating new ways of creating clean sources of renewable energy. This new way of thinking is critical but will create cultural changes and new ways of thinking.

Lear also brings up Plenty Coups, who was the last chief of Crow Nation. He praises him for the leadership strategies he enacted through the Crow Tribe’s time of cultural devastation. The Crow tribe’s way of life became out of the question. These people were not only threatened by nearby tribes, but more severely, the European settlers. According to Lear, Plenty Coups illustrated a radical hope of overcoming these setbacks through encouraging his people to be more courageous and prideful to be who they were and to ultimately have hope to a better future.

Thompson combines both aforementioned ideas and concludes that we need to recognize the impending destruction that could be wrought on our environment in order to not end up devastated like the Crows. In order to do that, we need to develop a different mindset; one that does not rely so heavily on consumerism and more so on reducing our standards of living in order to make the reductions necessary to decrease our carbon-footprint. With both points in mind, Thompson hopes that humans can find the resolve they so desperately need to prevent further damage to the ecosystem and to themselves.

Mistreatment of Humans and Land: The Causes of Our Ecologic Crisis

In Kathryn Yusoff’s first chapter of her book A Billion Black Anthropocene’s or None, she addresses geology as well as how racism in colonial times, has negatively impacted the Earth today; her primary argument is that black and brown peoples being treated as inhuman has resulted in the current population treating their environment inhumanely. However, to be frank, I feel as though I only understand the basics of Yusoff’s work despite reading and re-reading over sections multiple times.

Yusoff goes into deeper detail of justifying her claim by utilizing slavery of African Americans as a prime example of the mistreatment of “inhuman objects”. She iterates that the mistreatment and domination of an entire population through slavery has influenced others’ mindsets of believing that they are not only able to, but also encouraged to subjugate inanimate objects or other beings to whatever treatment they deem reasonable. Another example of this being when Christopher Columbus first discovered the Americas. Although it wasn’t African Americans being taken advantage of, he forcibly took control of the Native American population that he came upon due to him viewing them as weak and savage. As a result of this misguided mindset, he enslaved the natives and forced them to find and excavate gold, and when they didn’t fulfill their quota, he often severed off their hands as punishment. This act of extorting both the native peoples and the land supports Yusoff’s claim of geologic and racial issues being the stem of the current environmental deterioration attributable to the people in these examples possessing self-righteous mentalities.

This common mindset relates to the poor treatment and current ecological crisis by the past ill treatment of land while being colonized by the Americans. For example, during the 1800s, Americans killed millions of bison, nearly wiping out an entire species which would’ve severely damaged the ecosystem if preventive efforts hadn’t been made by President Roosevelt. This was largely the cause of hunting for sport, however this also occurred because of the creation of the Transcontinental Railroad. Both elements were committed purposefully and with full knowledge of what negative outcomes could come out of them emphasizing the selfish and tunnel-vision perspectives that the Americans had while trying to attain their goals.

All in all, Yusoff explains that geologic and racial factors in the past have negatively influenced the modern world. Hopefully, by bringing awareness to these possible contributions to the damaged environment we have today, people will be able to prevent any further damage from happening as well as possibly finding a way to reverse the current level of destruction.

Man: The Master or Caretaker of Nature

Both Lynn White Jr. and Pope Francesco have extremely passionate views on the ecological dilemma that the world faces today. However, they differ vastly and are complete opposites to one another when it comes to the solution to this issue. While White believes that religion, or more specifically Christianity, is to blame, the current Pope is convinced that religion is the answer.

White thinks that threats of the destruction of our ecosystem wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the creation of the Christian religion. He argues that the belief that God created the Earth: Adam and Eve, and then animals, has led humans to determine that they are more important than nature and are therefore nature’s masters. He justifies his claim by explaining that many great inventors, mathematicians, physicists, have all utilized religion as their reasoning as to why they worked so tirelessly to create new technology, theories, etcetera. So, although technology played a vital part in the disruption and damage to our planet, White still insists that the underlying cause was Christianity and people’s goals to please God.

Pope Francesco on the other hand, is adamant that religion is what will save the ecosystem. He not only thought it vital to clarify that maiming, disrespecting, and destroying the Earth are sins, but also reinforcing the idea that humans are a part of nature and as a result, have a duty to protect and take care of the natural world. He refers to the Earth as a “sister” to solidify his point and appeal to people’s emotional connections to family due to his whole aim being based on uniting people as one through common beliefs, while also spreading awareness to the ignorant of the crisis in order to combat the current issue plaguing the world.

At one pole, you have someone declaring that Christianity is the sole purpose of ecological despair, but on the other, you have a Christian leader declaring the opposite. I personally don’t believe either due to a lack of connection to any sort of religion and therefore see no problem or solution in religious views; which leads me to think about what the actual reason for the obstacles that nature is facing today and whether the cause is because of humans or some other greater idea that hasn’t yet been discovered or discussed.