I went to lunch with some co-workers today, and one of them said that it is the Christian belief in Armageddon that is spoiling the environment. His logic was that people who believe the world is coming to an end figure they might as well grab what they can get regardless of its affect on the environment.
Oh man! I kept quiet, but now I'm going to vent a bit.
First, I've been a Christian for a long time and I do not recall ever hearing that argument from anybody who believes in Armageddon, so I think this theory has little if any grounding in reality.
My strong feeling, based on my experience when I thought Armageddon was near (now I'm just not sure when it will be), is that when Christians are convinced Armageddon is near, it is far more likely to make them focus on heaven and their rewards there. After all, what's the point of grabbing a bunch of stuff that will just turn to dust in their hands? Further, Christians are encouraged to consider others more highly than themselves, and destroying the environment - and thus harming other people - is in contradiction to that, regardless of how soon Armageddon may occur. In other words, if Jesus was coming back tonight, would you want him to catch you torching someone else's house?
Further, I can switch this theory around and make a much more plausible argument that athiesm exploits the environment. Let me give it a try.
The athiest does not believe in God or an afterlife, therefore if he (or she) is going to get desirable things, it's gonna have to be in this life! The realization that life is temporary and there's no heaven leads athiests to try to grab all they can get regardless of its effect on the environment. Further, there are no athiest scriptures that enjoin kindness to other people, so there is no limit on their potential avarice.
I don't know that this is true, but I suspect it has a greater probability of being true than the "Armageddon destroys the environment" argument.