Friday, October 17, 2008

Environment and Family

We are coming on the two year anniversary of when the US reached the population of 300 million (see this report). At the time I wrote an article (1) about that milestone (if that is the correct word for it). Seeing that article in my old blogs and having just recently reading a blog entry on morals and the environment on Reuters, made me think of the issue of environment and the family.

Many years ago I was working a booth for a local environmental organization, of which I was president, on the campus of the University of Missouri. One person came up to me and asked me that why should we be concerned about the environment when the Bible says that God gave the Earth for people to use. That thought has remained with me to this day. I believe that it represents the view held by many ultraconservative Christians, and is the reason why the environmental record of the Reagan and Bush administrations and many states led by conservatives is so dismal.

These people who often state their position being for "family values". And they claim to have the moral high-ground. Remember the Moral Majority? So when people talk about morals my question to them is usually "whose morals?".

Please note that this view in not restricted to the US or to Christians. The Pope and the Catholic hierarchy talk about supporting the environment, but do not want to take steps to curb AIDS and the population problems, because the solutions conflict with their of conservative "family views". Poland has a conservative party called the Polish Family Party. In Nigeria, polio spread again after having been almost completely eliminated because Muslim leaders in the North of the country said that vaccination was against Islamic practice. Fundamentalist Hindus in India often claim the equivalent of family values.

Getting back to the environment, I really do not understand why these people are so opposed to the environment. Population is probably the biggest threat to the environment and to the survival of the human species (2), yet they are opposed to birth control.

And what does family values have to do with unregulated globalization and economic growth, opposition to government regulation (except to support their values), the war in Iraq, or believing their is no climate change (ala Sarah Palin).

Notes: (1) Unfortunately my article is no longer available on the Internet.
(2) I know many now consider global warming is bigger, but that problem is really a consequence of the bulging human population