ENVIRONMENTAL HUMANITIES AND ANTHROPOCENE STUDIES: ENVIRONMENTAL WORLDVIEWS AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS 'NATURE'
Environmental humanities and Anthropocene studies on diachronic human-environmental interactions are useful for highlighting how both technological and behavioural responses to extreme climatic events or environmental challenges in the past might inform solutions in the present and future. Such work also highlights the importance of deeply engrained mindsets and attitudes towards our place in the environment, many of them rooted in historically specific religious or cultural worldviews; some social scientists refer to modern environmentalism as a secular religion.
Historical accounts of community-level responses to socio-environmental and human health challenges are particularly instructive for modern environmental activism, especially given recognition by public health theorists of the role of community responsibility in tackling current health crises. With the recent rise in public, and especially student-led climate-change protests calling for improved government-level environmental policy, we should not lose sight of the potential for local community action and shifts in attitudes and behaviours to influence bigger global transformations.
In short, there is little point in campaigning for governmental action, if one’s immediate living, working, or educational environments are not in order. This means living by example, through individual and collective adherence to ecologically minded practices that reflect the inherent porosity of the human-environment encounter. In addition to technological solutions such as ‘green’ chemistry and sustainable agriculture, more thought needs to be given to the power of community action and how deeply engrained behaviours and mindsets that have long since shaped our relationship to the natural world might be shifted to create a better world for all.
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