For my write-up today on A Contract with the Earth, by Newt Gingrich and Terry Maple, I’ll highlight something from page 74:
“[Thomas] Eisner [of Cornell University] rightly considered the natural world a vast chemical treasury, but a source of wealth that is diminished by losses in biodiversity occurring throughout the world at a disturbing pace.”
Throughout this book, Newt and Maple promote preserving the environment because doing so helps human beings: Nature inspires us, entertains us, and helps us. I think that these points are important, but, so far in my reading of this book, I have not seen this anthropocentrism balanced with other considerations, such as nature’s value for its own sake, apart from whether or not it helps human beings. I suppose that, under Christianity, one can argue that such anthropocentrism is warranted, since God in Genesis 1 gives human beings dominion over the earth. At the same time, if I’m not mistaken, God in his speeches to Job highlights aspects of nature that appear to be independent of humanity.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a total preservationist. I think it’s acceptable for human beings to kill animals for food. I just believe that, somewhere in our environmentalism, we should have a notion that the non-human elements of nature should be preserved for their own sake, apart from the question of whether or not they help human beings. After all, the world is much bigger than us!
Still, it is cool that there are a lot of chemicals out there that can help us (i.e., cure diseases, etc.).