Opinion

Image from National Geographic

It’s been three weeks since the devastating tsunami in Japan, and I am still haunted by the familiar phrase from Daode jing ch. 8: Best to be like water, Which benefits the ten thousand things And does not contend. It pools where humans disdain to dwell, Close to the Tao. (Trans. Addis and Lombardo, Hackett:…

Read More “best to be like water”: tsunamis, religion and non-human agency

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Last year I wrote an article for atlantic-community.org on China’s quest for ecological sustainability. The basic point that I tried to make was that China has to create its own model for development because China simply will not be able to function as a country if its nearly 1.4 billion people expand their ecological footprint…

Read More consumptionomics: asia’s role in reshaping capitalism and saving the planet

http://www.youtube.com/v/YlOA_eO8IsQ&rel=0&fs=1

As the trailer for this new documentary from Mandarin Films makes clear, the global environmental crisis will be solved in China, not in America, for the simple reason that China has no other option. As I noted recently in my post on ecological civilization in China, there is a widespread recognition in China that the paradigm of industrial civilization must be changed so that China can bring economic development to its people without a correspondingly large increase in its ecological footprint.

In a fascinating article on metaphors for progressive politics, George Lakoff summarizes succinctly the message that progressives need to be communicating as regards the issue of sustainability: The economic crisis and the ecological crisis are the same crisis. It has been caused by short-term greed. I fully agree that the economic crisis and the ecological…

Read More sustainability as cultural and psychological transformation

I was in Beijing and Tianjin recently for a week of conferences related to “ecological civilization” (shengtai wenming 生态文明) an important new buzzword, the precise meaning of which thought leaders and government officials are vying to define. The first conference I attended was one on “Traditional Culture and Ecological Civilization”, held in conjunction with the…

Read More ecological civilization

In Sunday’s New York Times, Wayne Arnold published a column on the perennial topic “rethinking the measure of growth.” The story concerns attempts by Asian economists to come up with alternatives to GDP growth as the be-all and end-all of development. As is often the case with the New York Times, I found the most…

Read More chinese religions and economic sustainability

In a Wall Street Journal blog today, Christopher Carothers asks, “Is Daoism is losing its way?” He writes: Today, Buddhism is regaining its traditional place as the largest religion in Chinese society. Islam is expanding through the growth of Muslim families in the Hui and Uyghur minority ethnic groups. Protestantism and Catholicism are winning new…

Read More daoism’s quest for relevance

I was in LA last weekend to attend the Sixth Annual Conference on Daoist Studies which was organized by my former teacher, Livia Kohn, and LMU Professor Robin Wang. The conference drew the usual mix of academics and practitioners (which was itself the subject of an interesting meta-analysis by Elijah Siegler). My rationale for attending…

Read More new directions in religion and nature

This week I’m at a conference on eco-aesthetics at Shu Yen University in Hong Kong. Today we heard the opening speech from Prof. ZENG Fangren, the former president of Shandong University. He runs a research institute on aesthetics, and is one of China’s leading scholars of eco-aesthetics. In his overview of the field of eco-aesthetics…

Read More china’s greatest contribution to sustainable development