Publication Date

December 1999

Document Type



Preprint of article published in _Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society_, Vol. 19, No. 6, December 1999, 532-538.


Many Western environmental activist groups and theorists have sounded the call for the Earth's salvation from the "global environmental crisis." What is lacking, however, is some reflection on the ramifications of framing the problem globally, and on the justifications for particular solutions. This paper examines the "ecomessiah" (saviors of the Earth) phenomenon to investigate the impacts of these types of programs. Specifically, we examine the "global environmental ethic" proposed by J. Baird Callicott. His program, presented as an inclusive system that incorporates non-Western belief systems, trades heavily on Western science as an authority and a justification. We contend that his ethic, while well-intentioned, rests on assumptions and uses of science that subvert both non-Western ideologies and non-Western interests rather than revere them. Consequently, the inherent flaws undermine the feel-good one-world rhetoric that he espouses.