As the Western world emerged from the church-centric worldview of the medieval period, they relied on modern science as a way out of the age-old oppression of the Catholic Church. In this period, which we call the Age of Enlightenment, they essentially replaced religion with science. Science was supposed to be the religion of the modern world, and humans could become gods themselves.
On the subject of humanity’s relationship to nature, two different approaches emerged in the philosophy of the Enlightenment. Both approaches aimed to acquire the secrets of nature. However, the first approach urged humans to become a guardian of nature, while the second approach asserted that nature should be controlled, grasped and subjugated by humans.
Although both approaches have their own followers in the modern era, the latter approach has dominated the Western world for the past three centuries. With the rapid advancement of science, industry and technology, nature has been made available to mankind. In the name of economic growth and development, of more production and consumption, nature has been brought to its knees.
Exploit the world
For two centuries, the European powers exploited the prosperity of the world. Then the United States, and now China, began to carve out the lion’s share at the table of humanity. As environmental disasters have become more frequent than ever before, the delicate balance of nature has been upset by an unprecedented level of production and consumption. Although ecological awareness has emerged in Western countries, the fierce greed of capitalism seems unstoppable.
Over the past decade, people all over the world have suffered from back-to-back floods, fires and a steady rise in temperature, signaling the growing threat of environmental disasters to the world’s future.
From time to time, many Islamic thinkers such as Muhammad Iqbal or Hossein Nasr have protested against capitalism’s obsession with development and growth. During their struggle against the United States, Native Americans also predicted the dire consequences of overproduction and overconsumption. As one Native American put it, “when the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money.”
Being one of the most precious lands in the world, the forests of the Aegean coast and Antalya province have been burning for a week. While nearly two hundred fires have broken out in a short period of time, all measures taken by governments remain insufficient to extinguish the fires. While Siberia, Australia and California suffer from similar environmental disasters, flooding has occurred in Germany, Turkey and China.
If global climate change continues at this rate, in all corners of the world, these disasters will quickly become more frequent and destructive. As the Chinese and Indian economies integrate into the capitalist system with their large populations, the speed of production and consumption rather than a nuclear war could bring the end of the world.
As unchecked capitalism spirals out of control, the fires in California, Siberia, Australia, Turkey and Greece will burn the world to the ground. If we continue to poison our own lands, we will suffocate in the rubbish of the capitalist system.