Environment in Peril?
Environmentalists have long thought of economic globalization as a threat to the environment. Trade, advocated by economists and in consequence encouraged by the bilateral and multilateral aid and development agencies and expanded by reductions of trade barriers by both unilateral action and reciprocal bargaining by policy makers, is a frequent target of their anguish and anger. To a large extent, the conflict is inevitable. Impassioned differences often arise from the altogether different philosophies and lifestyles of trade economists and environmental activists.
The economists generally belong to the philosophical tradition that sees nature as a handmaiden to mankind. This humanity-centric view of nature is deeply rooted in the tradition that originated among the Hebrews and the Christians and spread to the Western world. As the Bible says in Genesis:
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 1
The views of the ancient Greeks were also consonant with those in the Bible. Aristotle famously observed:
Plants exist for the sake of animals, and brute beasts for the sake of man— domestic animals for his use and food, wild ones (or at any rate most of them) for food and other accessories of life, such as clothing and various tools.
Since nature makes nothing purposeless or in vain, it is undeniably true that she has made all animals for the sake of man. 2