The Right Kind of Environmental Concern
Reading Wendell Berry's environmental writings is a refreshing and edifying experience because he not only opposes the use of governmental regulatory coercion, but he also advocates the right kind of environmental concern. He argues that a land along with its plants, animals, water, and air will only be properly preserved by those who know it, love it, live on it, and can expect to bequeath it to their children and grandchildren, and that, therefore, the sustainable use of renewable resources is dependent upon the existence of these small, settled, local economies and communities — communities which existed in early America but have been decimated by the rise of the modern socio-economic system. He further argues that environmental considerations are needed to correctly define communities. A real community, he says, is a placed community. It cannot be defined in abstraction from its natural environmental context.
"The standards by which we choose must be the health of the community — and by that we mean the whole community: ourselves, the place where we live, and all the humans and other creatures who live there with us." … "If the word community is to mean or amount to anything, it must refer to a place (in its natural integrity) and its people. It must refer to a placed people. … 'community' must mean a people locally placed and a people, moreover, not too numerous to have a common knowledge of themselves and their place." (ibid. pp. 40, 168; emphases his)
In short, according to Berry, the right kind of environmental concern is in harmony with the right kind of social concern. This is an example of the ultimate harmony among all the various facets of God's creation, a principle which the late R. J. Rushdoony mentions often in his writings.
- Forrest W. Schultz
Forrest W. Schultz has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Drexel University.