Reconciling Social Justice with the need to protect Environment

Have you ever tried to reconcile the need to make sure that we live in a socially just world will being good stewards of the environment that we live in?

As a Christian this is something that, I believe, we need to ponder and reconcile because God charged us at creation with being good stewards of the Earth (Genesis 1:28) but also extols us to care for orphan, the widow and the poor e.g. Isaiah 1:17.

As I tried to reconcile these two items a question came to mind

Is it the needs of the poor or the demands of the rich that threaten the environment?

After completing a wee bit of research I would have to conclude that in the most part it is actually the demands of the rich that threaten the environment!

Therefore, we could conclude that those who consume far more resources than they require (the developed nations, the rich) destroy the life chances of those whose survival depends upon consuming more (the poor).

Interestingly / ironically / sadly for many developed countries the politically easy way to tackle poverty is to attempt to raise the living standards of the poor while doing nothing to curb the consumption of their own countries residents.

However, extreme poverty can also damage the environment. For example, people without access to clean energy sources are often forced to use wood for cooking. This shortens their lives as they inhale the smoke, destroys forests and exacerbates global warming by producing black carbon.

Therefore, we need to think about social justice in a way that does not damage the Earth’s capacity to support us and the rest of its living systems but also includes the redistribution of the world’s wealth so that the environment and the lives of the world’s poorest be defended.


One thought on “Reconciling Social Justice with the need to protect Environment

  1. One of the things I’ve learned over the last couple years as a grad student is that its going to be impossible to do what we need to do environmentally, if we don’t first give people what they need to survive. When people are relatively healthy, happy, and able to provide for their children – they can then make environmental choices.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s