• How can we restore our relationship with nature?

    2018 MSE Graphic

    Albert Einstein is broadly credited with stating: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results”. So, the question we need to ask ourselves is “Can we continue enjoying our current lifestyle and still enjoy a healthy environment?” Even today, when many countries use very few resources, as a global society, we use more resources annually than can be sustained.

    We know we need to change, yet in many ways we continue to do the same thing over and over. What are the answers? Will technology be our saviour? Can we rely on the current economic system to distribute wealth equitably? Or do we need a complete rethink of our relationship with nature and the use of natural resources?

    Norm Yan once told me that science is easy, getting people to implement science is the hard part. Only by understanding our cultural and religious beliefs and values can we hope to understand the real change needed in our behaviour.

    The 2018 Muskoka Summit on the Environment entitled Restoring Our Relationship with the Natural World will explore several world views. From Judaeo-Christian beliefs that continue to form the basis of western culture, to First Nation philosophy, to hard science and economic beliefs, each brings a unique perspective on our relationship with the natural world.

    We know that the human enterprise is growing exponentially and is now so large that we have become the major driver of changes to the biosphere of this planet. The most significant of these changes are challenging the long-term survival of human life and non-human ecosystems.

    It is past time for us to relearn an important lesson: it is not “us” and “it”. We are a part of the biosphere, inseparably woven into the intricate web of life. We have a crucial role to play in promoting its health in order to ensure our survival.

    The 2018 Muskoka Summit on the Environment will explore ideas for rebuilding a balanced understanding of our place in creation. We believe that any way forward will need both robust science and guidance from a variety of other cultural sources. These include the western tradition in philosophy and ethics, non-western societies and world views, and religious wisdom. This Summit explores the range and extent of our impacts on the planet and alternative views on our place in nature as a way of fostering an ethical outlook that recognizes our inherent membership within the biosphere.

    Over the next few weeks I will put forward several ideas and concepts on how we might consider restoring our relationship with nature. I hope that they get you thinking and excited to attend the 2018 Muskoka Summit on the Environment, where we will discuss these ideas further.

    Summit speakers include:

    1. Stephen Scharper – Research Interests: Religious ethics and the environment
    2. Meg Lowman – Research Focus: Canopy biodiversity and a champion of forest conservation around the world
    3. John Smol – Research Focus: The study of how ecosystems change over long-time frames in response to both natural and human-induced environmental change.
    4. F. Stuart Chapin (Terry) – Research focus: The study of the resilience of regional systems in the face of directional changes in climate, economics, and culture
    5. James Gordon – Interests: environmental concerns from an artistic perspective and real-life pragmatism gained from experience on the Guelph City Council
    6. Dan Longboat – Teaching focus: environmental concerns from a First Nations perspective. He encourages study with Elders and Traditional People.

    If you have ideas on how we can restore our relationship with nature, let us know what you think in the comments below or on the MSE Event Page on Facebook.

     

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