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.

Anthropocene: a human issue?

Kathryn Yusoff offers an interesting and eye-opening perspective in her book “A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None.” She argues that the field of geology erases its history of racism by normalizing the historical mistreatment of minority groups. Particularly, the framing of the Anthropocene epoch as a “‘new’ condition that forgets its histories of oppression and dispossession” serves to further this historical erasure (Yusoff 15). The term “Anthropocene” itself, the root of which is “Anthropos” or “human” implies that all humans are at fault. This framing of the issue both “fails to name the masters of broken earths” and “fails to grabble with the inheritance of violent dispossession of indigenous land” (Yusoff 13). Yusoff claims that this nomenclature “neatly erases histories of racism that were incubated through the regulatory structure of geologic relations” (Yusoff 14).  By framing the Anthropocene as a “human” issue, geologists fail to acknowledge the historical racism that is inseparable from the issue.

Furthermore, Yusoff argues that the aforementioned historical racism is inseparable from the climate crisis. She claims that the cultural notion of separateness from our environment that now fuels the climate crisis was born of the incorrect separation of “human” and “inhuman”, which began when slaves were labeled as inhuman to justify them being treated as such (Yusoff 16).

She claims that we cannot move forward in facing the climate crisis without acknowledging the reality of its history. While some may feel that her ideas are too esoteric to be useful in the face of the impending emergency at hand, I feel that it’s not only possible but important to acknowledge the past while simultaneously facing the issue of the present. What matters currently is that we, as humans, are faced with a common problem–whether it was caused by all humans or just some. Working together to solve it requires facing the harsh reality of where we are and how we arrived there. Only then can we move beyond the issues of the past and look to the future.

Make no omissions

Image: “White Cotton, Black Pickers” / Courtesy of the Library of Congress

For context, geology is defined as “the science that deals with the earth’s physical structure and substance, its history, and the processes that act on it” (Oxford Dictionary). What I find particularly enlightening about Kathryn Yusoff’s “A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None,” (particularly the chapter titled “Geology, Race, and Matter”) is the discussion of geology as a subject. Prior to reading this chapter, and subsequently researching to find the most accurate definition of geology, I was under the impression that geology solely dealt with the earth’s structure. I believed that geology simply dealt with topography and earth’s natural phenomenon. I wasn’t entirely incorrect, but I was omitting an entire topic focused on by geologists. So, as I’ve learned, geology not only deals with topography but it deals with the history of the earth and “the processes that act on it” (which can be expanded to include the actions of humans). Knowing the true definition of geology and having the entire picture allowed me to understand the article at a greater capacity and truly interact with its contents. 

In “A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None” Kathryn Yusoff argues that our concept of what the Anthropocene is is limited. The world’s view (or the majority of the world’s view) of the Anthropocene is lacking, just as my concept of the definition of geology was. Yusoff argues that this omission is harmful. Yusoff argues that the history of slavery is incredibly important to the idea of the Anthropocene. Europeans colonial desires (which displaced native peoples and fueled the destruction of the planet by humans) were enabled by slavery and that it must be discussed. The idea of an Anthropocene is incomplete without a reason as to why and how we started this ecological crisis. Additionally the effects of slavery can be seen today, especially in the modes that we use to destroy the earth. In the publication Yusoff wrote, “the complex histories of those afterlives of slavery continued in the chain gangs that laid the railroad and worked the coal mines through the establishment of new forms of energy, in which, Stephanie LeMenager (2014, 5) comments, ‘oil literally was concieved as a replacement for slave labor.’” Along with the idea of Europeans using slavery as a means to wreck havoc on nature, Yusoff argues that we must talk about the social side. We must acknowledge the effect that slavery has had on the Afircan American population and the “Antiblackness” that followed.

A section of the publication that I felt summarized that point (or at least part of it) that Yusoff was trying throughout to make clear is as follows: “ Rendering subjects as inhuman matter, not as persons, thereby facilitated and incorporated the historical fact of extraction of personhood as a quality of geology at its inception.”

An ADOLESCENT anthropocene

5 General World History Books Everyone Must Read ...

In her book, “A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None”, Kathryn Yusoff discusses how modern civilization has failed to “properly identify its own histories” (Yusoff 13). She credits the victors of history with incorrectly writing their own history, often leaving out, dehumanizing, or ignoring the exploitation of other cultures. Specifically, how White history does this to primarily black and brown people. Yusoff mentions multiple places where history has come up short, and asks us: who are we to define a new age if we cant even get our own history accurate?

I think that Kathryn Yusoff defies the common idea of an Anthropocene in quite an interesting manner. Instead of denying its potential existence, she instead denies its potential infancy. By asking us to “consider what historicity would resist framing this epoch as a ‘new’ condition that forgets its histories of oppression and dispossession” (15). There is no doubt in my mind that our history and geology are immensely incomplete in the way Yusoff describes, leaving out essential details that dehumanizes, and incorrectly defines many past events.

However, in the grand scale of things, I don’t see much vitality in understanding how we reached the Anthropocene. Rather, the fact that we are in one matters. And to me I don’t see how the points of incorrect history and geology effects that. And so while I agree with almost all of the points in the text that I understand, I struggle to find how it relates to the current issue at hand. I very much understand that I likely misinterpreted this text or took some of its points out of context or at least I hope that is the case as it did raise quite interesting points. They were just not ones that necessarily change how we should approach our rapidly incoming doom that is the Anthropocene. I hope to come to a better understanding of the text in next class.

Picture: whytoread.com

A Willful Blindness

Slaves from Guinea digging for gold and silver in mines, for the Spanish in Hispaniola.
Image taken from America.- Part V.- Latin.; Originally published/produced in Frankfurt, 1595 (1617 ?). Wikimedia

Kathryn Yusoff, author of A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None, offers a disconcerting perspective of the Anthropocene, stating that the now infamous geological era has warped into what we know it as today—a human, post-racial issue beginning with the Industrial Revolution and the steady increase of atmospheric CO2—from a much older origin with foundations in chattel slavery. Yusoff argues that this warping was intentional, done in order to erase the grim realities of the enslavement of people of color, and more specifically, to take the blame and responsibility away from the white perpetrators by making the proliferation of greenhouse gases, for instance, appear as an oversight in a period of overall progress (Yusoff 1-3).

Geology, suggests Yusoff, is the product of white people in power exploiting black and indigenous slaves by reducing them to materials and commodities to be extracted, equal to gold, coal, land, etc. Slaves were considered “matter”, “inhuman”, and commodities without agency or subjective will. This language of inhuman, extractable objects is so essential to geology, says Yusoff, that it is embedded in the grammar of geology itself. Therefore, according to Yusoff, slavery is inseparable from geology, which makes it also inseparable from any true discussion about the Anthropocene. Slave labor was a central element in the geological transformation of the world beginning in the 15th century, and this only ended once there were more efficient replacements, like oil, and eventually industrial factories (Yusoff 6). But geology’s horrendous beginnings still have substantial effects on today’s world, as evidenced by the environmental racism occurring with polluting industries relocating to poor cities with majority black populations, as well as in Native American reservations (Yusoff 13).

Yusoff makes the bold and likely controversial assertion that the reason we study geology at all is because humankind’s exploration into geology began from an extractivist mindset, which began specifically through slave labor (Yusoff 13). As powerful as this claim is for Yusoff’s argument, I have a hard time finding any outside evidence to verify this. Most things she has said in this book are consistent with my previous understandings of Anthropogenic history, but this aspect in particular is difficult for me to accept, until I find some information to support her theory.

I also have a hard time figuring out how this text is supposed to apply to the problem of the Anthropocene as know it. The primary reason being that it is difficult to settle on the best balance between two opposing progressive ideas: an appreciation of intellectualism (and, pardon the redundancy, a condemnation of anti-intellectualism), and a goal of making essential information as accessible to the general public as possible. I personally found this text, while fascinating and informative, somewhat beyond my reach and too esoteric for what the audience (presumably anyone who cares enough about Anthropogenic calamity) might be capable of comprehending. This is not necessarily a problem in other areas of interest, but when the clock is rapidly ticking to Climate Doom, it is vital that as many people understand these ideas as possible.

Geology is Written by the Victors?

Indian troops, Cyprus
Troops from Indian under British rule are forced to do manual labor (Getty Images)

In her book, “A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None”, Kathryn Yusoff argues that geology, particularly the new geologic era of the Anthropocene, normalizes historic marginalization of minority groups. While I agree that the propagation of western culture and globalization has disregarded numerous justice and equity issues, her analysis of geologic process and social injustices was too broad to have significant meaning. Yusoff’s comparisons between the extraction of slave labor and of coal and colonial violence and geophysics are analyzed from a perspective too far removed from the root of the problem. Her attempt to “naturalize” human actions and “humanize” geology is both offensive to those who she is talking about and to geologic science. Understanding and acknowledging our history of colonial violence and minority injustice is a crucial part to moving forward in society, but geology is not the mechanism to do so. 

As Yusoff notes “the Anthropocene proclaims the language of species life – anthropos – through a universalist geologic commons”, however she then goes on to explain how this “geologic commons” obscures historic racism in modern day society. There is nothing inherently incorrect in this statement, and I think that there is an ethical dilemma in placing blame on all humans for the environmental damage that we have caused when the majority of the damage originates from industrialized nations, however geology is inherently inhuman. The Anthropocene is characterized by human impact in rock formations and climactic patterns within our biosphere, not racial injustice, colonialism, nor slavery, nor should it be. 

However there are a variety of other fields dedicated to evaluating these human-nature interactions, including environmental justice, human geography, and most relevant to Yusoff’s book environmental determinism, which delves deep into how physical environments have supported colonialism and eurocentrism. These three fields of study along with social justice movements, the increase in vocalization by historically marginalized populations, and historical revisions to acknowledge of the horrors of colonization have had drastically higher benefits than abstract juxtapositions of social justice violations and geologic processes. 

Why Have “We” Written This Narrative into Geology and Greater Society?

In “A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None,” Yusoff details the marginalization of POC through their depictions and relations to materials, much as how “we” have treated the resources of the natural Earth. I liked Yusoff’s framing of “we” in this text. In one passage, Yusoff states, “This unmaking of subjects constitutes a warp of dispossession in the progressive narrative of collective accumulation or geologic commons in which “we” all share” (Yusoff, 16). The author makes it clear that “we” is not an all-inclusive term. POC have continuously and aggressively been excluded from this collective “we” and have instead been labelled as nonbeings, or inhuman. POC have had no input into the exploitation and dehumanization of their lands and lives.

Yusoff goes on to state, “Rendering subjects as inhuman matter, not as persons, thereby facilitated and incorporated the historical fact of extraction of personhood as a quality of geology at its inception” (Yusoff, 17). POC have been seen, and quite frankly continue to be seen, as simply resources of the Earth for White Men to extract and use at their will to further their “innovation”. But this innovation has come with this price of corrupting not only the cultures of many groups, but also their land, or as “we” see it, territory to be expanded and pillaged. In the field of Geology, and in my opinion many others, Black and Brown People are referenced as simply property to be used to further ideation. They are used as simple tropes, tokens, or cherry-picked evidence of innocence or inspiration. In the words of Yusoff, “Why is it that the language of geology allows for the exchange of a person as a material object of property and properties” (Yusoff, 18). This line of questioning parallels the greater discussions surrounding why societal institutions have been built in such a way as to allow for racism to become institutionalized and permeable throughout society.

Yusoff makes a clear point that in order to truly examine this Anthropocene, we need to understand Geology’s origins and what made such exchanges of property that resulted the geological and societal crises possible. This needs to be uncovered while maintaining the thought that society today has constantly been profiting off the backs of POC communities – resulting in both innovations, and the degradation of the environment. Without the labor and resources of POC, our current era would not have come into being, yet time and time again they are treated as inhuman.

Photo by Bruna Fiscuk on Unsplash

The way we write about geology…

The author of “A Billion Black Anthropocene or None” suggests that the way Geology is discussed and displayed undermines the long history of exploitation of people of color, specifically black and brown people. The author states that when categorizing matter as property and properties, “the slave in this formulation is rendered as matter, recognized through an inhuman property relation” (Yusoff 17). The author goes on to highlight how the way we talk about geology can ultimately suggest that those who were exploited were just objects. She seems to be arguing that by writing geology the way that we do we are in our own way justifying all the exploitation that occurred, we are erasing the human aspects of those who were wronged. 

When we are writing, especially about history it is easy to forget that the events that are being discussed actually happened and it directly affected real people at that time. It is so easy to distance yourself from it, but the word choices we use matter. Like the author discussed, the way we describe something can help to humanize a person or with a few quick changes we can completely strip them of their human aspects.

I thought this piece was really interesting to read, though I did have to read it more than once to understand it fully. I still feel as though I didn’t completely understand everything that was pointed out in this chapter, but hopefully being able to discuss it in class will help to clarify the last few things that I am not as clear on.

Image by Darius Sankowski on Pixabay

REDEEMING the revolution

The Storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution

In Kathryn Yusoff’s book A Billion Black Anthropocene or None, the author seeks to critique and work through the categories of geology to show the way it hides and naturalizes the exploitation and oppression of black and brown folks around the world. Throughout this critique, Yusoff makes a variety of claims about modern liberalism. Two of which I take issue with. The first is her view of private property. Yusoff associates private property with the “inhuman” and with geology. This is because “geology is often assumed to be without subject (thinglike and inert)” (Yusoff 19). Furthermore, Yusoff often describes the acquisition of property as an “extractive” process that “enacts colonialism” (20). However, when one examines the views of the classical liberal philosophers a different vision of private property emerges. According to John Locke for instance, a man’s private property comes from the fact that “the labor of his body and the work of his hands, we may say, are strictly his. So when he takes something from the state that nature has provided and left it in, he mixes his labour with it, thus joining to it something that is his own” (Locke 11). Thus, property is not merely something that is inert that one extracts out of the ground. It is not inhuman; it is an extension of the human. It is an extension of the individual since all private property contain a piece of their labor in it, in other words, a piece of themselves. Yusoff’s description might apply to the way private property functions in the 21st century, but she is wrong to attribute this to the liberal tradition. Underlying this mistake is Yusoff’s approach to critiquing modern liberalism, mainly through a rejection of liberalism. On the one hand, Yusoff wants to go “beyond liberal individuation”, but on the other hand, all of Yusoff’s critique rely on pointing out the hypocrisy of liberalism, reinforcing liberal values. To truly go beyond liberalism requires not a rejection of the liberal tradition but a redemption of its revolutionary potential. It will require the completion of the work started by the liberal tradition. As Karl Marx once wrote “our task is not to draw a sharp mental line between past and future, but to complete the thought of the past […] it will becomes plain that mankind will not begin any new work, but will consciously bring about the completion of its old work” (Marx par. 11).

  1. Locke, John. “CHAP. V. Of Property.” Second Treatise of Civil Government, https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/politics/locke/ch05.htm.
  2. Marx, Karl. “Letter from Marx to Arnold Ruge.” Marxists Internet Archive, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1843/letters/43_09-alt.htm.

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.

A Distant Examination of a Dialectic Regarding Religions’ Relationship to Environmental Catastrophe — or — I Have No Idea Who’s Correct, So Let’s Try to Find Out

Lynn White and Pope Francis, through their combined (unintentional) efforts, have managed to turn my brain into applesauce by arguing viewpoints which require that I have adequate biblical literacy, a comprehensive historical knowledge of the so-called West, and a mindset which allows me to actually come to a firm conclusion about anything. But I’m going to give it a shot anyway.

Lynn White, in his essay “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis”, argues that a person’s view of ecology is determined through how they view themselves in relation to nature.  He also argues that the primary underlying reason for the destruction of our environment is not only the dawn of the Industrial Revolution and the advent of contemporary science, but also a view of humanity which White believes came from Christian theology: the belief that humans are separate from nature, and that they have supremacy over nature. At some point in history, humankind made a dramatic switch from having a symbiotic relationship with nature to exploiting nature. White says, “…to use the new and more efficient plow, peasants pooled their oxen to form large plow-teams, originally receiving (it would appear) plowed strips in proportion to their contribution. Thus, distribution of land was based no longer on the needs of a family but, rather, on the capacity of a power machine to till the earth,” (White 4). White thinks that this change directly links to the advent of Christianity in Europe (specifically the Protestant and Catholic denominations). He states, “Is it coincidence that modern technology, with its ruthlessness toward nature, has so largely been produced by descendants of these peasants of northern Europe?” (White 4). Ultimately, when Lynn White argues that “What people do about their ecology depends on what they think about themselves in relation to things around them” (White 4), he is more or less correct. Holding the viewpoint that one is related genetically to a fish or a bacterium, for instance, is often going to result in a much more connected and mutual relationship to the environment, whereas the viewpoint that one is separated from and above nature is likely going to result in a more distanced relationship from our ecology. But is Western Christianity to blame, as Lynn White suggests? To say that Western Christianity is the one true answer would be a stretch, but as a general direction to point to, he makes a pretty convincing argument. People practicing pagan religions, as noted by White and based on what I’ve read in other Climate Change literature, historically have a much more mutual relationship with the environment, and view humans and nature as equally important (White 4). It would seem that it was not until the emergence of monotheistic religions that people began to have the influential belief that human beings exist outside of nature and control it. But I haven’t found any compelling alternative theories to contrast White’s argument. Oh, except for this one:

In “Laudato Si”, Pope Francis approaches a similar question with a far different answer. He states that Christianity itself is not the problem, but instead, people have been misinterpreting God’s well-meaning words over the course of history. The Bible’s innumerable translations have led to centuries of misinterpretation, where different religious denominations took pieces that they saw fit and either changed or discarded pieces that didn’t fit into their narrative. Pope Francis knows this, and points out where these misconceptions are located in the Bible, and how God never intended for humanity to view the world in such a dangerous way (Francis 49). But despite the examples Pope Francis provides, the interpretation that man is separate from nature persists throughout the world anyway, thanks to the poor usage of the word “dominion”. But through some further investigation, I found that the book of Genesis (King James Version) contains a passage which presents us with what appears to be another questionable word: “…and God said unto [humanity], Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it…” (Gen 1:28). Subdue is synonymous with conquer, defeat, and master. It’s no wonder that so many people have misinterpreted this concept. But if Pope Francis is sure that this was a misinterpretation at all, why were the words “dominion” and “subdued” chosen for the Bible in the first place? Was there a decision made in an early translation of the Bible where the overseer(s) weren’t satisfied with God merely granting them “stewardship” or something or other, and thanks to some already established cultural desire for superiority over nature, they made a covert switch? If so, when did that begin to take place? Who knows? 

Though studying the reasons and origins behind the exploitation of the earth’s resources is crucial for understanding how we got to this dangerous point as a civilization and how we can prevent something similar from happening down the line (if there is a ‘down the line’), at least we’re discussing articles by two people who agree that Climate Change is an anthropogenic issue. It is becoming clear to more and more humans—albeit quite slowly—that human impacts are in fact real, and are a problem. 

A Power struggle with the He and i

I’ve spent the last few days trying to figure out how I feel about this topic and where I wanted to go with this post, and all I have found is more confusion. While I do have some thoughts I would like to share, they all feel jumbled and misguided, and thus I’m excited to listen and participate in discussions about these two texts, however I feel slightly uncomfortable and unqualified sharing opinions. 

I grew up in a Jewish household, where somewhere along the way I adopted the notion that all other religions are based on money, greed, and power, and that I was to steer clear of these for the sake of my spirituality and physical safety. Looking back on this, I can see that a lot of the views that I once carried were passed down from people who had spent much of their lives in fear of other cultures and religions. For context, my family comes from both Israel and Poland, has a rich Jewish history, and has multiple individuals who are either killed in our fought in WWII. As I grew older, I maintained the view that many religions, Christianity in particular are based on greed, power, and money, however I have done everything I could to remove myself from a feeling of superiority, or that other belief systems were wrong. I no longer associate with any religious faith, but I do not have anything against those who choose to follow a religion of their choosing, for as written by Papa Francesco “respect must also be shown for the various cultural riches of different peoples, their art and poetry, their interior life and spirituality” if we are to act in unity to make the right choices as a human race.

Coming from my background, I have unintentionally seen most religions as constructs which attempt to control various aspects of the world around us, notably other people and wealth. While this mindset created by such shortcomings of many organized religions has been easier to spot in politics, I hadn’t thought about this in The context of our collective approach to anthropogenically driven climate change.

While I understand these examples are not representative of all people and expressions of Catholicism, I would like to point to things such as the Crusades, the opulence of the Vatican and local churches, repeated diaspora due to religious persecution, the worship of gold, partial and at times prejudice views toward other religions, (most of these have to do with the “establishment” or Church rather than the context of biblical writings), etc.

To a less aware outside observer such as myself, the Catholic Church has always seemed to be plagued by an unending power struggle. As Papa Francesco reminds, “we are not God. The earth was here before us and it has been given to us.” A gift is not something to be conquered, rather to be cherished and used in good health. I feel that the aforementioned characterization of the Church comes from those who have misunderstood and, in turn, misused it’s powers, when in reality the true intent of this religion is to spread love for people and the world around us. That said, it seems that many misunderstandings come from two interpretation of love: one being to care for, replenish, and understand the world around us, and the other being to benefit from yet be grateful for. These two interpretations have far different outcomes when applied to our interactions with our environment. While some may choose to love through profit, a future is only sustainable when love is shown through awareness, care, and giving back. The importance of this understanding with respect to all other religions, individuals, and ecosystems cannot be overstated moving into the future.

An Honors Colloquium in Environmental Arts and Humanities