In the peak existence of science and technology, to deny the dangers of climate change is absurd. However, we live in a current time in which arguing about climate change becomes a “difference in opinion” and becomes associated with politics. The same science and technology which gave humankind their sense of superiority somehow no longer provides reliable information (in the eyes of climate change deniers) in regards to the climate crisis. In order to shift blame from the status quo, individual decisions (usage of plastic straws, not recycling, etc.) are highlighted as the causes of climate change. Although it’s imperative to make environmentally conscious decisions on a daily basis, the fact that 100 corporations are responsible for 71% of global carbon emissions often fails to be emphasized in local conversations. Why? Because, on a larger scale, society has accepted this is how the world works. We’re in the age of the Anthropocene; humans have decided our surroundings work for us. In reality, humans have harmed the balance of nature and have proved we cannot co-exist with other species— unless there’s a shift in ideologies.
In Lynn White’s “The Historical Roots of our Economic Climate Crisis,” he argues Christianity serves as a foundation for the climate crisis. God intended nature to be at the disposal of humankind. White asserts that Christianity is, by far, the most anthropocentric religion. As colonialism and Western domination increased, so did the spread of Christianity— hence the large scale influence it has on climate change. In contrast to many Asian religions, White states Christian principles promote humankind and nature to be dichotomous, and not interconnected. In White’s eyes, the climate crisis serves as a reflection upon Christian values and calls for a shift in their religious interpretations.
Pope Francis’s “Laudato Si’” rejects the core claims made by White. He argues true followers of Christianity would find the exploitation of the environment to be a sin. Accepting Christ as your Savior and devoting yourself to God would lead you in a path of kindness, not destruction. However, Pope Francis agrees with White that humans are wrongfully manipulating their surroundings. He urges for new dialogue to occur for the preservation of the environment.
Both White and Pope Francis blame the climate crisis on humans and our greed. A shift in ideologies is necessary for climate change action, whether this be regarding Christian values or the entitlement humans hold. Regardless of one’s views on the root causes of the climate crisis it’s crucial for policy and activism to take place to lessen the desensitization that’s already occurred. It’s beyond time that people set aside their differences, religious or political, to hold corporations, harmful practices, and ourselves accountable. There has to be a shift in ideologies— the environment doesn’t exist for our gain.