cross-cultural learning and ecological civilization

Submitted by James Miller on Sat, 09/07/2013 - 01:28
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Below us the text of a speech I gave at the orientation day for the Queen’s-Fudan semester in Shanghai program. Thank you for inviting me to speak at this orientation event. Each person who participates in this program has their own reasons for being here. For some of you it may be to improve your…

the philosophy of qi in an era of air pollution

Submitted by James Miller on Sat, 05/25/2013 - 09:02
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In a recent column in Nature, Qiang Wang argues that responsibility for transforming China’s environment lies with its citizens. He points to several instances in which local protests have successfully prevented new industrial activity, and argues that this heralds the beginning of a new relationship between Chinese citizens, the state and the environment. China is…

green spirituality and the limits to modernity

Submitted by James Miller on Tue, 06/26/2012 - 12:58
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In an online report on Religious Innovation for Sustainable Future (no longer available), Nina Witoszek (Oslo University) surveys a “pastoral renaissance” taking place across the globe. This renaissance, she declares, is “not just a tide of projects and conferences, but a new-old mindset which aspires to reclaiming nature, culture and spirituality, influencing green architecture and…

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A recent news story on Reuters, headlined Thou Shalt Not Launch IPOs, China tells temples, reports that the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) has issued an injunction against temples listing on the stock exchange. SARA official Liu Wei is reported as staying: Such plans “violate the legitimate rights of religious circles, damage the image…

permanent agriculture and the anthropology of waste

Submitted by James Miller on Sun, 02/12/2012 - 14:28
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This term I have the privilege of co-teaching a new seminar course at Queen’s (with Emily Hill) on the topic of Green China: Environment, Culture, Politics. The course examines the intersections between religion, culture, politics, and the natural environment in China over the past century. One of the first books we read was Farmers of Forty…

religion, ecology and nationalism

Submitted by James Miller on Fri, 12/02/2011 - 17:39
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Should environmentalists support conservation projects that also serve to bolster right wing nationalist agendas? This was one of the questions that was discussed last month at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, in San Francisco. I spoke on a panel organized by the Religion and Ecology section which featured a vibrant discussion on…

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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…

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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 to the same level as that of North American societies. I am not arguing that China must not develop its economy. Rather I am arguing that it must develop its economy in a radically new way and not slavishly copy the pattern of development that the West has established.

green china rising

Submitted by James Miller on Thu, 01/06/2011 - 12:18
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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.

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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.

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