Happy New Year! I just came across a 2009 article about James Proctor, Professor and Director of the environmental Studies Program at Portland’s Lewis & Clark College, who had conducted a nationwide survey, quering people on their views on religion, nature and whether they see the future as a utopian dream of humans living in harmony with nature or as a dystopian nightmare of total destruction wrought by climate change. Dr. Proctor sees utopias and dystopias as indicators of people’s greatest hopes and fears and their attitudes toward the environment.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, the notion that nature is sacred may scarcely raise an eyebrow. It’s a given for many people of faith, and common ground for others who say that aren’t religious but care deeply about the natural world. Intitial survey results showed a majority of respondents believe that nature is inherenetly sacred, and about a third say people must respect the natural world because God made it. When it comes to dystopias and utopias, a majority said they fear their worst nightmares about the state of this world may come true and that the ideal society is built on Earth-friendly technologies.
Unfortunately, when I tried to take the survey on line, I learned that the site had been closed down. I have written to Dr. Proctor to learn more.
Eight of the sample survey questions follow (response choices for each are “strongly disagree,” “Disagree,” “neutral,” “agree” or “strongly agree.”:
1. Nature is the handiwork of God
2. Nature has an important spiritual dimension to it.
3. Native Americans knew how to live lightly on the land.
4. We all need to take action immediately to avert global disaster.
5. Sometimes I’m afraid that my worst nightmares about the state of this world may come true.
6. Nature is the result of materials forces, not God.
7. I don’t want the next generation to inherit this mess that we’re leaving for them.
8. Nature is inherently sacred. ~