Sheeps bones in field; very much nature

Roture is an existing word in French, but in this post, I introduce it as an alternative for how the words nature and natural are defined and used in modern green thinking.

The origin of contemporary Western environmental thinking can be traced back to the work of the French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau. In his time, Rousseau introduced an attractive alternative to the then prevailing Christian doctrine of Original Sin. His idea that man is born innocent and subsequently corrupted by society was later translated by people such as William Wordsworth and Henri David Thoreau into the mantra which still holds today: industry pollutes and ordinary man is innocent.

Definition of nature

Rousseau also has a peculiar definition of nature. He and his green successors hold a romantic view of nature. They have defined nature as something to be admired and protected, as if nature is only beautiful and not also limiting and destructive. Using the word nature for that is incorrect; Roture (romantic or Rousseau nature) is a better fitting term. We need to be clear what we talk about, when we talk about nature.

As a result, the conflict between the development of mankind and the conservation of the natural environment is played out on a much smaller stage; that of the conflict between industrial pollution and romanticized nature (Roture). Significant parts of the larger conflict remain hidden in our collective unconscious.

In practice, this leads to endless contradictions. For example: an Environmental Impact Assessment is required for the construction of a road but not for researching a life enhancing drug; laws regulate industrial pollution but not the consumption of industrial products; many NGOs are involved in environmental protection but also in providing development aid; levies are constructed against flood and this is not regarded as an environmental impact; and less toxic pesticides are being developed but the fight against malaria is continuing.

Emily Dickinson

The sky is low, the clouds are mean. A traveling flake of snow across a barn or through a rut, debates if it will go. A narrow wind complains all day, how someone treated him. Nature, like us is sometimes caught without her diadem.

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  1. […] Bewust of onbewust dragen orthodoxe media nog het standpunt uit dat ‘de ander’ en ‘de industrie’ verwijtbaar zijn voor verwoesting van de natuurlijke onschuld. En dat ‘het kind’ of ‘het individu’ onschuldig is. De Natuur is Goed en De Maatschappij is slecht, of Het Systeem. Een mythe die wij beschrijven in hoofdstuk 9 van Ecomodernisme, het Nieuwe Denken over Groen en Groei, waarvan de oorsprong ook volgens milieuconsultant Jos Tissen ligt bij Jean Jacques Rousseau en de 19de eeuwse Romantiek. […]

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