This is my penultimate synthesis post for ENVS 220 and will serve as a brief overview of Rose and I’s situated project. Rose and myself are investigating what we call the “anglocene,” which we define as the influence of Judeo-Christian based religions and Anglo Saxon influences on environmental crises, through the lens of Lynn White’s “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis.” Our situated study is centered in South Korea, which does not have a prominent Anglo Saxon population, but nearly a third of South Korea’s population identifies as being of a Judeo-Christian faith. The question that encompasses our research is “how did South Korea, a country without a prominent Anglo Saxon population, develop such a large community devoted to Anglo Saxon theologies?” At face value this situating question seems to be quite detached from environmental philosophy but, it begs the question that if Anglo Saxon theology can be established in a non-Anglo Saxon nation what other philosophies were brought along with it?
The main structure for our situated research is a two pronged investigation into one, the effects of Judeo-Christian theologies on the kind of environmental crises that Lynn White outlines, and two, how Judeo-Christian theologies historically gained strength in South Korea. When we combine these investigative ideas we will be able to craft a relationship between Judeo-Christian theologies in South Korea and how they may have influenced the environmental crises of South Korea. We will also be looking at a number of separate texts that relate to Judeo-Christian theologies in South Korea specifically as they relate to environmental crises.
Using Lynn White’s “The Historical Roots of our Ecologic Crisis” as our guiding text we were able to determine that one of White’s primary arguments is that ecologic crisis and Judeo-Christian theologies first existed separately. When this article was published, technology progressed to a point where humans were able to take from the earth at rates that were far greater than resources were able to be replenished. This level of exploitation of resources can cause significant issues on a human scale causing crises such as famine, scarcity of potable water, and reduction in arable land. When looking at such crises, many of them could not be applied to South Korea, because it is a high income country (World Bank, 2015). However, while percent of arable land has been steadily increasing on a worldwide scale, South Korea’s arable land has suffered an almost ten percent decrease since its peak in 1967 (World Bank, 2015). This data lead us to question who is suffering when this type of change occurs?
Taking this framing question to the next step, we determined the steps to bring us into the context of South Korea. We have accumulated three relevant datasets from the World Bank which is the percentage of: urban population to total population, arable land to total land, as well as agriculture, forestry, and fishing inputs to overall GDP. Between these three graphs we noticed a trend showing that percentage of arable land decreased as well as agriculture, forestry, and fishing percentage of the nation’s GDP. This correlating relationship shows that the decreasing amount of arable land has directly affected agricultural and rural communities. However, while arable land and agriculture industry are decreasing, urban population grows at an exponential rate. This supports our assumption that White’s argument is accurate and is the cause of the decrease of arable land in South Korea. To focus our study, we have decided to ask how these Judeo-Christian western influences perpetuated themselves in South Korea specifically within agrarian practices. By answering this question through a series of analyses we hope to uncover exactly how Judeo-Christian theology has affected Korea’s arable land.