'Nature' may be understood, for environmental purposes, as whatever happens when we, or other agents under the direction of abstract thought, let things be. From this point of view it is accordingly never too late to 'return to nature'. To do so is not to restore a lost set of things or attributes, but rather to allow a certain process to begin anew. This process recommences whenever that which already exists - whether it be of nonhuman or human provenance - is permitted to endure. 'Environmentalism' is thus conceived in broadly Taoist rather than ecological terms, as involving the affirmation of the given.
In the last thirty years, many ecophilosophies have come and gone. Visions of ecological reform and re-alignment have been rolling plentifully off the presses. Yet the ecological crisis, globally and at home, has only worsened. Why have ecophilosophical ideas failed to change social patterns of behaviour to any significant degree? Can theory change behaviour? Or is theory itself the problem? Is it theory which distances us from reality and thereby creates the moral gap between ourselves and the biosphere? If so, what contribution can philosophers and scholars possibly make towards an effective response to the current biosphere emergency?
One of the deepest roots of the environmental crisis is the contempt for matter per se which follows from the materialism which is a presupposition of modernity. Forms of environmentalism which share this contempt by favouring the natural, the wild or the ecological over the urban, the architectural or the artefactual in fact perpetuate the deeper presuppositions and psychodynamics of modernity and thus unwittingly betray their own goals. A position which is genuinely counter to modernity will involve dwelling within and affirming the given, whatever form the given takes. Nativism is such a position.