For many, the environmental movement is a consumer fad with very little intellectual or emotional investment. Generally, sustainability is deemed a “good thing” but given low priority at both the personal level and the public policy level. In this paper, I argue that environmentalism must be modified to meet the needs of the general populace in order to gain momentum as a contemporary political movement. In other words, I examine how the environmental movement can attract the massive number of active members necessary to change public policy and conclude that this movement will need to adapt to the public in two ways. First, I suggest that it should transition to an anthropocentric, or human-oriented, angle when introducing people to the merits of sustainability. While biocentric ethics, or the recognition of the intrinsic value of all life forms, is an essential component of sustainability, I maintain that a clear emphasis on human life will be more compelling for potential new members. In support of this claim, I emphasize that the human impact of the BP oil spill has roused recent public interest in environmentalism. Second, I explore the unique capacity of faith communities in the United States to change hearts and unite believers into political action. I demonstrate that Christian communities have changed public policy by relentlessly decrying human rights violations in the past, namely during the civil rights movement. Similarly, I hold that Christian communities should champion the cause of sustainability and environmental justice as part of a larger concern for human rights.
"Changing Hearts: The Future of the Environmental Movement,"
Vol. 5, Article 8.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/globaltides/vol5/iss1/8