Thursday, October 15, 2020

Reflection LuzDelMes: Human Ecology and Environment

 Human Ecology and Environment–Maritza M. Mejia - ©2020

Ecología Humana y Medio Ambiente – Maritza M. Mejia - ©2020 Leer artículo en español:

Humanity has had an evolution throughout its history. First, it was all about survival, cultivating its land, pastoring its flocks, and multiplying. Slowly, humans have matured to protect their offspring, surroundings, and wealth. The twentieth century’s industrialization and globalization, have expanded the scope of the continual evolution of humanity. Now, it is not about a single family or a single tribe, but it is about the world. Ironically, it continuous to be about survival. The interconnection still exist since the beginning of creation. Human ecology takes precedence over the natural environment and both need to be safeguarded to reach a balance and authentic human ecology.[1] 

The environment is our collective good and it is a challenge for the whole humanity to protect it.[2] “It is a matter of a common and universal duty that of respecting common good, destined for all.”[3] To understand the original divine mission to “work and care” for the home we live in (Genesis 2: 15), we need to be aware of our interconnection with each other, the planet and the environment. Moreover, we need an extraordinary force and virtue to understand it: love.[4] “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Corinthians 12:26). Furthermore, we must not disregard the “human environment”[5] which includes human life from birth to natural death.

In the book, Ten Green Commandments of Laudato Si’[6] by Father Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam, he introduces fervent insights of the encyclical based on the principles of “Seeing-Judging-Acting” to reach ecological awareness and protect not only the environment, but also to care for humanity.  The Ten Green Commandments are:

1.     Take care of our common home.

2.     Listen to the cry of the poor.

3.     Rediscover a theological vision of the Natural world.

4.     Recognize that the abuse of creation is ecological sin.

5.     Acknowledge the human roots of the crisis of our common home.

6.     Develop an integral ecology.

7.     Learn a new way of dwelling in our common home.

8.     Educate towards ecological citizenship.

9.     Embrace an ecological Spirituality.

10.  Cultivate ecological virtues.

The Ten Green Commandments might be the beginning path for an ecological conversion. As I mention before, first we need to recognize there is an ecological problem and observe with a new vision. Then we can distinguish our wrong habits and change it with good practices, like the 3Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. Ultimate, we can act and reach an ecological consciousness that lead us to an ecological conversion. 


 What is ecology? To begin with this analysis, first take a close look of the word “ecology.” It is derived from the ancient Greek words of “oikos” and “logos,” meaning “household,” or a “place to live.” The first person who uses this term was a German zoologist Ernst Haeckel in 1866. He applied the term as “oekologie” in the relation of the animal both to its organic as well as its inorganic environment.  Ecology is a science that deals with the interrelationships between the organism and its “environment.” [7] According to Professor Robert Leo Smith, ecology is also called “bioecology, bionomics, or environmental biology.” Ecology studies the sociological and political problems in human affairs, such as, pollution, global warming, food scarcities, extinctions of plants and animals. [8]

What is environment? The Online Encyclopedia Britannica, on the other hand, refers environment as the complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival.[9] The Merriam-Webster dictionary as the circumstances, objects, or conditions by which one is surrounded.[10]

Roderick J. Lawrence’s article “Human Ecology and Its Applications” explains that since the late 19th century the term “ecology” has been interpreted in diverse ways. In the natural sciences, for instance, botanists and zoologists often use the term “general ecology” to refer to the “interrelations between animals, plants and their direct surroundings.” [11] Human ecology sociologists suggest that it is the study of the “dynamic interrelationships between human populations and the physical, biotic, cultural and social characteristics of their environment and the biosphere.”[12] Human ecology can also be considered the environment relations which have a history in several scientific disciplines and professions. One aspect that is not considered in human ecology is the “anthropological dimensions of human customs, knowledge and values, as well as communication and information.”[13] Lawrence concludes that the term still remains divided between the “social and natural sciences,” as well as between the “theoretical and applied approaches” in each of these sciences.

In the book, “The Theological and Ecological Vision of Laudato Si’: Everything is Connected” by Vincent J. Miller we read one of the clearest vision regarding “human ecology.” First, Miller clarifies that is important to understand that integral ecology involves a belief based of the nature of the world that all things are interrelated. Second, it is important to have a special vision of integral ecology that requires a specific lens that allow us to perceive this “connectedness” with the Triune God. Third, an integral ecology beckons us to follow moral principles to preserve these interconnections.” [14].Dr. Miller concludes, in order to obtain a comprehensive ecology as a guide to action and moral principle, we need to trust, have the special vision and see the signs to reach consciousness to protect "our common home", as Pope Francis refers to planet Earth in the encyclical Laudato Si'.[15]

Human ecology takes precedence over the natural environment and both need to be safeguarded to reach a balance and authentic human ecology.

Maritza Martínez Mejía
Madre, Educadora, Autor Bilingüe, Promotora cultural y Traductora
Miembro de la ANLMI, FWA, SFWA, Delegada ANLMI
Ganadora del “Crystal Apple” 2006, “VCB Poetry” 2015, “Latino Book Awards” 2016,  “Author’s Talk Book Show” 2017. SOMOS Foundation -Poetry 2018

Actividades GRATIS de lectura y escritura en Website: 

[1] Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 92

[2] Catholic Distance University, The Environment, accessed September 29, 2020.

[3] The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 466

[4] Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 1

[5] Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 38-39

[6] Kureethadam, Joshtrom Isaac, Ten Green Commandments of Laudato Si’, Saint John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota, Liturgical Press, February 18, 2019, 19-201

[7] Pimm, Stuart L, Ecology, Conservation Ecology Research Unit, Duke University, Durham, N.C., accessed September 10, 2020

[8] Smith, Robert Leo, Ecology, Professor of Wildlife Biology and Ecology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, accessed September 10, 2020

[9] The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Environment, accessed September 11, 2020

[10] Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Environment, accessed September 11, 2020

[11] Lawrence, Roderick J, Human ecology and its applications, Centre for Human Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Elsevier Science Geneva, Switzerland, 2013, 31, accessed September 11, 2020

[12] ibid. 31

[13] Ibid. 32

[14] Miller, Vincent J, The Theological and Ecological Vision of Laudato Si:’ Everything is Connected, edited by Vincent J. Miller, New York: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 1st Edition, July 27, 2017, 14-23

[15] Pope Francis, Laudato Si’,1-246

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