Respect for nature not only means respecting the environment in which we live, maintaining stunningly beautiful landscapes or saving whales from extinction. In the long run, respect for nature leads us to change our way of life and our attitude towards the world and its inhabitants.
During the last centuries (especially since the XVII century, with Galileo, Descartes, and Newton’s Scientific Revolution), we -the western civilization- have looked upon nature as a lifeless entity which therefore did not deserve any special consideration. For example, based on the thinking of Descartes, science assumed that animals were simple machines and that their screams were not an expression of suffering but just a noise emitted by a misadjusted mechanism. As a result we have become accustomed to viewing nature as something which is totally at our disposal: a warehouse from which we can extract raw materials at will, and an unlimited dumping ground for our mountains of waste.
However, in the past few decades, a series of events best condensed into the expression ‘ecological crisis’- have shown us that we can no longer maintain this attitude.