What are the historical roots of the ecological crisis? According to Lynn White Jr., Judeo-Christianity may have had an impact, particularly in terms of ideological heritage and our relationship with nature. Here’s how.

Lynn White Jr’s Thesis on Judeo-Christianity and the ‘Disenchantment of the World

The American historian Lynn Townsend White (1907-1987), himself a Presbyterian, was no enemy of Christianity. But when, in March 1967, he published the article “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis” in the leading American journal Science, this medievalist specializing in the history of technology opened up a controversy that is still very much alive today.

In his book, The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis, Lynn White Jr. was the very first to argue that the shift in perspective introduced by Judeo-Christianity had opened the door to the “disenchantment of the world“, materialism and a new mind-body dualism with deleterious ecological effects.

Reflections on White’s Founding Article and its Influence on Modern Ecology

Carl Pope, who from 1993 to 2010 was Executive Director of the Sierra Club, one of the world’s oldest environmental organizations, reports that “everyone from my generation has been profoundly influenced by White’s article and learns the same lesson: that we will continue to have a deepening environmental crisis if we don’t reject the Christian axiom that nature has no reason to exist other than to serve humanity.

Lynn White Jr’s stance set the standard for a whole generation of environmentalists.


The Catholic Church’s response: Pope Francis’ view in Laudato si

Pope Francis responded to this link between Judeo-Christianity and the ecological crisis in 2015. He reacted to this issue in his encyclical Laudato si’ (2015): this is the Catholic Church’s response to White…48 years later!

Deconstructing Stereotypes and Calling for a New Relationship with Nature

We are not God. The earth precedes us and was given to us. This is a response to an accusation levelled against Judeo-Christian thought: it has been said that, based on the Genesis account, which invites us to “dominate” the earth (cf. Gen. 1:28), we would be encouraging the savage exploitation of nature by presenting an image of human beings as dominators and destroyers. This is not a correct interpretation of the Bible, as understood by the Church. This work presupposes a conversion of the way we look at nature, deeply inspired by the Franciscan intuition (Francis of Assisi) of communion and fraternity with all living things“.

In the light of this summary of the historical relationship between Judeo-Christianity and the ecological crisis, the modern message seems unanimous: live in harmony with the living. But where to start? Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is definitely one of the key objectives for living in harmony with nature.

Reducing GHG Emissions: Individual Initiatives

Supermarket cart illustrating individual consumer choices and their impact on GHG emissions

Climate change, which is having a major impact on the imaginations and wallets of individuals, businesses, governments and their leaders, is reflected in a single directive and mission: “We must reduce GHG emissions!

When, how and in what way? That depends on who and what we’re talking about.

Individual Strategies for a Greener Future

On an individual level, the usual ways are well known: use alternative transport or carpooling, favor short consumption circuits, eat less meat, limit travel, in short significantly slow down consumption and move from an egocentric culture to one of the common good.

This is no small task, especially for large energy consumers. As Dr. Milena Buschs of the University of Leeds, Associate Professor of Sustainability, Economics and Low-Carbon Transitions, puts it, “If we want to combat global warming, it may be a good idea to first target those who use the most energy” (Nature Energy, July 2023). His team has calculated that in Europe, the top 20% of these consumers generate almost 50% of total energy consumption, not least because of their air travel. Not surprisingly, the multi-factor indicator is income level.

Corporate Decarbonization: Challenges and Opportunities

Start-up employee on a tablet, representing corporate decision-making choices for a sustainable future.

At corporate level, the IPCC and the IEA (International Energy Agency) consider it important to act on both demand and supply. At the heart of these issues are a whole series of standards (attestations, certifications, accreditations, etc.) issued by private companies or organizations, such as NPOs.

The main decision-making families for reducing GHG emissions :

  1. Regulatory or legislative obligation
  2. Obligation by the market and/or business sector
  3. Perception of value: seen as an investment or competitive advantage, not as an expense. It’s a brand positioning to target a market segment and stand out from the competition with a high-end, eco-responsible offer. In fact, more and more consumers are considering the ecological impact of their purchases when making their final decisions.
  4. Ecological conviction: ecological idealism, specific to corporate values and mission. A company’s executive committee will strongly direct the entity’s ecological convictions.

In any case, we’re going to want to publicize the results of this reduction. In particular, we are proposing an offer to support the reduction of corporate emissions by unlocking a unique source of revenue in Canada!

By encouraging SMEs and NPOs that are reducing their GHG emissions to join our energy transition model, we act directly on the supply side. It’s their gateway to qualifying and generating carbon credits for sale on the international market.

Obstacles to reducing GHG emissions

Companies are realizing that they are not equipped to quantify, qualify or audit their reduction efforts. At any rate, they realize that this is outside their core business. They also realize that having their reductions quantified by an external firm and transformed into CCs involves costs and a process that relies not only on the credibility of the quantifying firm [not for nothing is this a playground that accounting firms want to control], but also on the certifying program and registrar who, failing international recognition, will produce second-rate CCs.

Transitional opportunity: carbon credits

Finally, monetizing their GHG reductions is a way of financing their reduction projects.

Qualified, quantified, serialized and verified reductions are converted into voluntary carbon credits. As the AMF explains, “these credits are based on GHG emission reduction or removal projects. They are generally purchased by citizens or companies wishing to offset their emissions on a voluntary basis.

They can take different forms and are no substitute for real GHG reduction. But they can encourage an additional contribution to decarbonization in a transition phase like the one we’re going through.

Want to become carbon neutral or aim for net zero? Will Solutions offers North American, community-based carbon credits that encourage green innovation. What’s more, they are VERRA verified and VCS (Verified Carbon Standard) certified, one of the world’s best-known certification programs.

Authors and writers

Jean-François Léonard
VP Public and Government Affairs

Raphaël Pittavino-Varitto
Digital Marketing and Communications Manager