US President Donald Trump has just opened the door to massive exploitation and despoliation of one of the US’s largest nature reserves. The move has been met with fierce resistance from environmental groups, but only mild rebuke from most Democrats in congress. We shouldn’t be surprised, however; the US essentially has two major right-wing parties that both support the continuation of the capitalist economic system that ruthlessly exploits people and planet alike.
But there is something deeper at play as well. This move also shines a revealing light on the warped philosophical underpinnings of the capitalist conception of nature. And this, in turn, shows the need for a radical transformation of humanity’s relationship to the natural world that goes well beyond cosmetic reforms or simply regulating the status quo. Rather, we need to question the viability of endless economic expansion and consider whether it’s time to give part of the planet back. And there are important lessons that we can learn about how we might do so from non-Western societies and their philosophies of nature.