Are We Owners, Stewards, or Children of the Earth?

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Hugh Taft-Morales

Leader, Philadelphia Ethical Society

How should we relate to our planet? Ethical Culture, and humanism in general, has been criticized for being too humano-centric. Some say that we too readily subordinate the earth to human projects, seeing ourselves as owners or stewards, when we are more like children utterly dependent on mother earth. How can we balance humanist emphasis on responsibility for our planet with the reality of our utter dependence? Is there room in Ethical Humanism for a transcendent environmentalism of awe and reverence? What kind of an environmental ethic should we embrace?