Dr. Nick Menzies
Many Western philosophers concerned with the environmental crisis in which we find ourselves suggest that Asian philosophies and religions might show the way to a more harmonious relationship between humans and nature. They point, in particular, to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Daoism (Taoism) as religions which preach harmony between all beings. Unfortunately two of the countries afflicted with environmental degradation are India and China, one the home of Hinduism, the other the home of Daoism, and both deeply influenced by Buddhism. China has a long history of contradictions between the ideal of conservation and the reality of population pressures, of war, and political interventions in the use of forests. This talk will cover some of the high points in this tangled past. With stories from the classics, dubious tales from local histories and legends, and observations from field work in some of the remaining forested areas of China, it is hoped it will give a sense of perspective and a better understanding of the complicated roots of the deforested state of China today.