An excerpt from the Passionate Earth: The Evolution of Our Relationship with the Natural World by John Del Signore. I will be posting new articles to this site on a regular basis.
Governments have been both a help and hindrance in regards to the environmental crisis we currently face. Apathy, Isolationism and self-interests have often impeded governments from acting appropriately, as well as special interest groups that favor policies that are often not in the best interests of the populous. Dictatorships with specific ideologies, such as colonialism or the suppression of individuals for political power and material gain are a few examples of the misuse of political systems. Governments have often been run by leaders with unethical principles and agendas that have caused extreme poverty, starvation, enslavement and extermination of societies throughout history: these conditions are still prevalent in many countries today.
Corruption, both within governing bodies and in the private sector is also an issue of utmost concern today. The increase in corruption has steadily grown throughout the world and is impacting the ability of governments and societies to address the most basic needs of humanity. The loss of funding needed for societal and humanitarian initiatives has been staggering at the hands of political and corporate leaders who have found ways to pilfer money from their governments and the general public for their own self-interests.
Corporations also act unethically when they initiate practices that are primarily focused on profits but despoil the environment as well as create hazards and dangerous conditions for the average citizen. Examples of this include unsafe working conditions, toxic waste that is disposed into the environment and a multitude of other environmentally unfriendly practices. Corporations also influence government policy by bribing government officials with monetary and material rewards for supporting their private interests.
Individual rights are another issue of great concern. It appears that the rights of the individual have super-ceded the rights of the community or the whole of humanity and this more recent ideology has greatly impeded the solution of a variety of social and global problems. A sense of obligation to others and to society as a whole is less apparent in human interactions today and more aligned with self-interests. This attitude of separateness from community is clearly related to our feelings of separateness from the Earth.
Earth in the Balance. Ecology and the Human Spirit by AL Gore, Rodale Inc., A New Common Purpose, pp. 269-294.