Earth Day in History: How Environmentalism Resembles the Renaissance

NOTE: This is an excerpt from Byron Kennard’s just published book written to commemorate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970: 

YOU CAN’T FOOL MOTHER NATURE: The Once and Future Triumph of Environmentalism

The book is now available in paperback & ebook at Amazon

 

Renaissance thinkers believed they could restore a lost link to the culture of Greece and Rome and bring about a “rebirth” of that greatness in their own time. They revived the idea — long lost — of citizenship. Their grandest accomplishment was the promulgation and embrace of humanism
 
Humanism downplays religious dogma. It makes the dignity and worth of the individual the principal focus. In the order of things, it places humans front and center. The mantra of Renaissance thinkers was “Man is the measure of all things,” a precept they borrowed from Protagoras, the Greek philosopher. 
 
I argue that what the Renaissance did for humanism, the Environmental Revolution did for nature. It took us “back to nature” with a bang! 
 
Environmental activists believed they could restore a lost link to the ancient world’s reverence for nature and its focus on the individual’s direct experience of the natural world. In the order of things, environmentalism places humanity’s relationship to nature front and center.  
 
Perhaps this can be viewed as a return to nature worship in such forms such as animism, deism, pantheism, and polytheism. These focus on the individual’s connection with nature and exhibit a profound reverence for it. Thanks to Earth Day, everything old is new again. 

It was as if we needed reminding that Mother Nature is in charge of things. Earth Day jogged our memory. In a way, Earth Day summoned us back home, back to the nest in which we were nurtured, back to the cradle in which our species came to flourish.

The book is now available in paperback & ebook at Amazon

2 Comments

  1. Good points – especially since I consider my self a. Humanist. Hope you are weathering the storm. Best, JohnSent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

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  2. Nice read. I think Earth Day is a constant reminder who (or what) is really running the show. Also, in this pandemic, seems to me that nature is starting to come back. (One if it’s positives.)

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