Years ago it was already recognized that religious and political worldviews were deeply tied to our environmental problems.
I highly recommend reading this short essay:
"The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis"
Lynn White, Jr.http://www.uvm.edu/~gflomenh/ENV-NGO-PA ... -White.pdf
Especially in its Western form, Christianity is the most anthropocentric religion the world has seen. As early as the 2nd century both Tertullian and Saint Irenaeus of Lyons were insisting that when God shaped Adam he was foreshadowing the image of the incarnate Christ, the Second Adam. Man shares, in great measure, God's transcendence of nature. Christianity, in absolute contrast to ancient paganism and Asia's religions (except, perhaps, Zorastrianism), not only established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is God's will that man exploit nature for his proper ends.
At the level of the common people this worked out in an interesting way. In Antiquity every tree, every spring, every stream, every hill had its own genius loci, its guardian spirit. These spirits were accessible to men, but were very unlike men; centaurs, fauns, and mermaids show their ambivalence. Before one cut a tree, mined a mountain, or dammed a brook, it was important to placate the spirit in charge of that particular situation, and to keep it placated. By destroying pagan animism, Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects.
This brings to mind how in premodern Chinese political thought, the basic idea was that the natural world could survive without humanity, but humanity could not survive without the natural world, hence the lesser position of the emperor to "heaven". The emperor was responsible for rites venerating both heaven and earth, and keeping in line with the natural forces at work above and below. It was nature, not man, that decided the rise and downfall of his dynasty. In the end he was subordinate to nature, and this was constantly demonstrated through natural disasters and so on beyond his control.
Nowadays, though, in China with its "modern" and "scientific" thinking they see the natural world as ripe for exploitation and subjugation, just as in the west. Industry and science are employed to violently tame nature. The massive dams, coal mining operations, unyielding urban expansion, pollution and so on demonstrate this. These sorts of developments would have been inconceivable to premodern Chinese thinkers who based themselves on classical literature, all of which demanded utter respect for the natural world. Even artwork constantly reflected the appreciation for natural beauty.
We might think that maybe
people will start seeing nature as more important than economic and industrial expansion, though the problem with that is that, as Cicero suggested, war is more about money than weapons, so any voluntary reduction in economic output would reduce military power. That is politically infeasible in most countries.
As with all past civilizations, we'll reach our limits and thereafter face collapse as resource and ecological limits initiate 'de-growth'. Unless we voluntarily reduce complexity and return to earlier less energy-intensive models (which seldom ever happens in history), there's no avoiding this.