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A new way to protect the environment
Environmental problems are some of the most serious problems facing mankind today. Many countries from all over the world are studying ways to save the constantly deteriorating environment. Even though a lot of methods have been implemented, they can only touch upon the areas that are within the scope of present-day science. In addition, the methods adopted are themselves manufacturing methods. They too consume energy and release emissions. All the current ways of cleaning up the environment are simply moving pollutants from one environment to the next, and are not able to eliminate the factors that led to the pollution in the first place. In addition, these methods are incapable of combating the types of pollution that science has yet to recognize. That is the oft-cited reason why there is constantly new pollution. It is the reason why the current methods of cleaning up the environment are simply combating pollution with pollution and cannot escape from the final result of achieving some results within a limited scope while the whole picture is constantly worsening. In order to completely resolve the problem of environmental pollution, the fundamental reason that leads to environmental pollution has to be discovered. Through the analysis of several reasons that people now consider to be the main causes for environmental pollution, the author demonstrates that human beings’ improper ways of living and manufacturing are the fundamental causes of environmental pollution. The reason why the actions of human beings can lead to environmental pollution is that the moral standard that discerns whether certain human behavior is right or wrong has deteriorated. Therefore, in order to solve the environmental problems fundamentally, people have to improve their moral standards. Speaking from another angle, human beings are allowing their notions and desires to control their own behavior. In order for people to change their behavior, they have to change their notions first. The only way for people to change their notions completely is by learning the truth.
In today’s human society, material things have become quite advanced and abundant. However, the deterioration of the environment has also emerged as a serious problem. It has caused numerous social problems, such as the shortage of resources, global warming, and congenital malformation, dementia, and other genetic diseases related to the deformation of chromosomes and genes. These problems pose serious threats to the existence and development of the human race. Many countries around the world are conducting research to curb the deterioration of the environment, so that the human race can continue to develop stably with sufficient resources. Although it has been decades since people first realized the seriousness of environmental deterioration, and many policies have since been adopted for this purpose, the overall environment is still degenerating. If this trend isn’t stopped, the human race’s very existence will be threatened.
Various methods have been adopted to protect the environment, and they mostly fall into two categories: technical and legal. Most methods try to address both these issues. The main objective is the prevention of future problems, combined with environmental remediation.
On the technical side, the first step is to improve technology during industrial processes and to facilitate remediation and separation of existing pollutants. For example, one technique is to filter pollutants in waters and condense them into solid form. Another technique is to burn solid pollutants or dissipate them into air pollutants. Sometimes one pollutant is transformed into another using chemical or biological means, such as reverting 6-valence chromium back into 3-valence chromium. These methods are useful in temporarily limiting pollution in certain geographic areas or targeting specific pollutants. However, they do not take the pollutants away from nature. In addition, these processes are also production activities, consume energy, and may even generate pollutants themselves. More seriously, the new methods that have been adopted to curb existing pollution sometimes have higher pollution potentials than what they are aimed to cure. For example, the construction of nuclear power plants was to solve air pollution and energy shortage problems. But nuclear power plants are actually even greater pollution sources. On the other hand, we prohibit production that could potentially cause pollution in an effort to solve the pollution problem from its root. However, because our knowledge is limited, sometimes even the industries we consider harmless can cause pollution.
Making laws to protect the environment is using coercion to restrict people’s behavior in order to protect the environment. It has been effective to a limited extent, and the movement is growing. However, while it sets certain standards for people’s behavior, it also recognizes and protects anything that isn’t regulated, even when the unregulated pollutions are more serious. If laws are overly detailed or complicated, they will interfere with people’s normal lives. Some types of pollutions are difficult to remedy even after enforcement of environmental regulations. In addition, laws can only prevent what has been observed, and can not do anything about what is yet to be observed. When there is an international conflict that involves the interest of a country, laws in this country are compromised. This is especially true during wartime, when laws are basically ignored.
The most serious problem with current environmental protection policies is that issues are dealt with only after pollutants or potential pollutants are identified. There is nothing we could do about things we haven’t recognized, and that is usually where new types of pollution problems begin.
In order to completely solve this problem, we must find the real reason for environmental pollution. There are at present a few commonly recognized causes of pollution, including rapid population increase, galloping urbanization, ever increasing industrialization, and so on. These transformations are all happening simultaneously.
According to statistics, the world population is indeed increasing very rapidly. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were 1.6 billion people in the world. By 1950, there were 2.5 billion people. In 2000, this number increased to 6.2 billion. Within one century, the world population nearly quadrupled. Population increase led to more consumption of resources, and increased the amount of waste. However, population increase has followed the laws of nature, so in theory it should not lead to deterioration of the environment. The problem actually lies in the increase in interpersonal conflict and people’s desire to possess. More people are doing wrong things out of greed for personal gain. Human moral standards are quickly declining, and they intentionally or unintentionally do things that damage the environment. If everyone emphasized virtue and protected the environment, then the increase in human population would not have led directly to environmental pollution.
Urbanization centralizes population, and may affect the environment in a certain area. However, concentration in certain areas also means that population should decrease in other areas, bringing a better environment for these other areas. But why is the environment in these areas polluted as well? In addition, assuming there was no change in people’s living and production methods, the total amount of pollutants emitted by a concentrated population should be the same as that of a dispersed population. The key issue is not population concentration or dispersion, but that people’s ways of living and production, and thus their behavior, have changed. People now use cars to travel even short distances and elevators to change floors. The indoor temperature is kept constant all year long. These comfort factors have a cost: resource consumption and environmental pollution. At the same time, environmental resources and capacities are limited.
Rapid industrialization is the main cause of environmental pollution. However, today’s human existence and development are reliant on industry. At a minimum, humans need to produce tools. They can’t use their hands to dig soil or rocks to fell trees. In housing construction, they need something to use as windows, that will block the wind and yet be transparent. These things don’t exist in nature, and are produced by humans. If industrial development conforms to natural laws, it won’t necessarily become a pollution source. The main problem is the direction and extent of industrial development. In today’s society where people have a lot of greed for material things, their entire mental well-being depends on material stimulus. They only use one’s material wealth to measure a person. People are less and less satisfied with labor, material, and food produced by nature. They want to use industrial production to replace everything. This greed leads to endless exploitation of natural resources and production of non-bio-degradable materials. The production of these materials, however, takes energy and resources away from the natural environment, but the pollutants emitted through the process and the end product can not be naturally absorbed. This type of production behavior will certainly lead to serious damage to the environment.
Today, when we’re searching for the cause of environmental deterioration, we have not been able to see through the surface phenomena of this physical world. We have never been able to go beyond what science hasn’t discovered. Therefore, all of the remediation methods are limited within the technicality and legality of the physical world. In the end, we can’t alter the overall deterioration of the environment.
Next, let’s analyze the above causes of environmental deterioration. Population increase, urbanization and industrial development all follow changes in human living and production behaviors. Although we think these changes are good, they may not necessarily be so. Some changes may not conform to the law of nature, and may be unethical. It is these unethical living and production behaviors that caused environmental pollution. The only reason that human behaviors lead to environmental pollution is that the standard to measure human behavior, which is the moral standard, has changed.
Looking from a different angle, the most serious environmental problems are demonstrated where humans and the environment are in conflict, and where the development of the environment and that of the human society are not harmonious. The deterioration of the environment occurs at the same pace as the degeneration of human morals. Is that simply a coincidence? “When people do not have virtue, natural calamities and man-made disasters will abound. When the earth does not have virtue, everything will wither and fall. When heaven deviates from the Dao, the ground will crack, the sky will collapse, and the whole universe will be empty.” (1) This is to say the most basic reason for environmental pollution is that people no longer have morals, that human moral standards have changed.
How can changes in moral standards harm the environment? Let’s first take a look at what “morals” are. Morals include the rules and regulations of human behavior. Moral standards are like the law of nine planets orbiting the sun. They are also rules of the universe centered on humans that humans must abide by. They govern the relationships among people and between people and the environment. People’s notions about morals may change as society develops, but the moral standard is universal and unalterable. Only when humans do things according to this universal moral standard can the environment centered on humans be balanced. Otherwise there will be problems. Many civilizations have been destroyed in history, and these destructions were all related to human moral deterioration.
What is the current situation, then? People no longer base their behavior on moral standards. Instead, they look to the society’s laws and regulations as guidance. Laws and regulations are written by humans, and are restricted by the law writers’ own interests. They are not a complete demonstration of the universal law. That’s how human behavior started to deviate from the universal moral standard, now leading directly to environmental pollution. For example, humans release to the environment things that didn’t exist in nature, such as plastic or other synthetic products. These things cannot be part of the natural cycle of degradation. They do not conform to the law of nature. If we use the universal moral standard to measure, this behavior is immoral, because it breaks the laws of nature. But judging with deviated moral standards—the laws and regulations--such behavior is permitted. Indeed, this has caused environmental deterioration. This is a simple demonstration of the effect of moral decline on the environment. Human behaviors in accordance with lowered moral standards are also changing the relationships among people, and those between people and things around them. In the complex web of relationships between people and their environment, people only want to maintain relationships they consider to be beneficial to them, and want to change whatever they consider not beneficial. For example, in the relationship between people and cows, people only want to harvest hide and beef from cows. The physical labor that cows used to provide is now replaced by machines, because people think cows are inefficient. The result is that the relationship between people and cows are imbalanced, and that the environment around people and cows is also changing. The relationships between things are very intricate. Beyond that, people are also trying to replace essential things such as water, air, and soil with artificial products. People are currently conducting research on this. They even want to reproduce humans through cloning. They want to change all principles in nature according to human thinking. When measured using the universal moral standard, these behaviors are extremely immoral and dangerous. However, they are now protected by law because they meet the requirement of the human law. Humans protect the environment in the same way. They only protect what they consider beneficial, and try to change what they consider useless. Actually they are not protecting the environment, but changing it. This is merely deterioration of our physical environment caused by lowered morals. Furthermore, humans live in not only a physical environment, but also a social environment. Mafia, gangs, and terrorist organizations prevail. Even some national governments are involved in terrorist activities. This has caused for people tremendous fear and social instability. The deterioration of this social environment is obviously related to moral decline. However, because people have not yet considered it an issue of environmental deterioration, we will not go into great detail on this topic. But the environment that humans live in is extremely complicated and intricate. Only correcting the physical environment without correcting the social environment is not a solution to the problem.
In order to completely change our current environment and return it to its original state, people must fundamentally change their distorted moral notions and faulty behaviors, so they can meet the requirement of the universal moral standard. However, it is not easy to change people’s notions. There is a Chinese saying, “it’s easy to change a country; it is difficult to change people’s habits.” “The most difficult things for people to abandon are their notions. Some people cannot change, even if they have to give up their lives for fake principles.” (2) Throughout history, only the “ultimate truth” can completely change people’s notions. In religions, people also talk about the truth and morals. Of course, historically, religions have positively contributed to the development of society. But it is difficult to say if anything in this world can remain unchanged forever. According to the understanding of our present-day science, everything follows the principle of creation, development, and decease. Of course there are also things we have not recognized. Nonetheless, now many new religions are being developed, but human moral standards keep declining. The elderly often say that young people today do not conform to morals as they used to, and this is true. Although human morals are quickly declining, we are not yet hopeless. Currently there are more than 100 million people whose moral standard is quickly improving. They are Falun Dafa practitioners. The reason they can change their notions and improve their moral standard is that they have heard the ultimate truth, the highest principle of the universe, Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.
Of course, the goal of improving one’s moral standard is not to protect the environment. But a person with high virtues will know naturally what is required of him. He will know how to treat others and everything around him. He certainly also will know how to treat the environment. Isn’t this also achieving the goal of protecting the environment? This is what people call “obtaining naturally without pursuit.”
1. “When the Fa is Right,” Essentials for Further Advancement, a text of Falun Gong
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