The Rise of an Ecomissionary Philosophical Movement

| October 28, 2016 | Leave a Comment

Item Link: Read Article

Media Type: Video

Date of Publication: October 9, 2016

Year of Publication: 2016

Publication City: Santa Barbara, CA

Publisher: UC Santa Barbara, Environmental Humanities Initiative

Author(s): Erik Assadourian

Categories: , , , , ,

“Nearly a half century after Dana Meadows, Edward Goldsmith, Paul Ehrlich, and other environmental prophets first warned about the need to shift to a sustainable future, we are further from that goal than ever before. Is there still time to make a gentle transition to a sustainable civilization—even now that we have twice the population, the global economy is five times larger, and two-thirds of Earth’s ecosystems are degraded or being used unsustainably?

“The research suggests that no matter how fast we now act, there will be horrific changes that we’ll need to deal with in our future. But even if an ‘ecological collapse’ occurs, it is important to remember that the collapse in all likelihood is not the end. There have been dark ages in the past. The question is how we navigate through this time in a way that minimizes suffering both to people and the planet, and set ourselves up on a path where an ecocentric civilization can emerge on the other side. In this presentation I will argue that the best available strategy is to follow the model of those movements that have lasted thousands of years—able to evolve across great cultural, geographical, and temporal variations—and create an ecomissionary philosophical movement that can steer us through the turbulent centuries ahead. Presented as part of The World in 2050 Conference.

For more on this topic, please read: Building an Enduring Environmental Movement.


The World in 2050 Conference, organized by the University of California Santa Barbara’s Environmental Humanities Initiative, is taking place from October 24 to November 14, 2016.

Aiming to limit the conference’s carbon footprint, conference talks and Q&A sessions are all digital. This reduces the need for travel and makes content easily accessible! You can register to participate in the Q&A sessions here.

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  • Benedetta

    I found this video profoundly educational and realistic. It is actually the first video I watch that openly talks about how our actions are no longer reversible and how we must cope with the consequences of our anthropocentric view of the world. Its frightening message of a future collapse reminds me of the words of the philosopher Hans Jonas. He claimed that the best way to change people’s mind regarding an environmental ethics, was to somehow “scare” them. And even though it could sound disrespectful, it is actually the only mean we have to shake people’s conscience. Hope for future does not give climate change the importance it has. On the contrary, an healthy fear of losing what we have, really makes us think about a drastic change in our lifestyles.
    The idea of creating an environmental religion/philosophy is brilliant but I find it quite difficult to realise in the near future (even though I would love to be wrong!!). For what concerns the religious side of it, I reckon the best thing to do would be to revaluate nature in the eyes of religion. I will explain myself better: Nature (at least in Christianity) is what God has created and thus it is something holy, that has to be preserved. From here the message directed to humans: to protect the Earth they live in, not to exploit it; to live in harmony and to celebrate Nature as a gift. This is the call that every religion should make, and this is the message that every religious community should receive.
    I also think that religions are now disappearing (particularly in wealthier nations) and I am doubtful that a new religion could have the same appeal as it had 2000 years ago. People are tired of following “rules” in religion and perhaps the ethical part you were talking about could be easily seen as a series of commandments. A philosophy on the contrary could have more success. Please correct me if I am wrong!
    And finally the educational side. I believe we should change our school systems, directing them towards now vital subjects as ecology and environmental ethics (more than economics, as Trump has recently suggested). I do not know about the American school system but for what concerns Italy, no ecology is taught within biology, no environmental ethics within philosophy, no environmental studies within literature and no global change studies within geography. We basically end up with little or no knowledge regarding a huge issue such as climate change, caring less than we should, perhaps not even believing in its existence. But I am sure that shifting world’s schools from an anthropocentric to a Earth-centric education will make a great difference.
    Sorry for the stream of consciousness that came with this message. I am very happy to have watched your video, thank you for having shared it!