At the moment we face a man-made environmental disaster that portends the end of Buddhism in our current age. If our actions were in accord with nature – and with reality - in each order of conditionality then not only would environmental action be unnecessary but Buddhism itself would be unnecessary. I think this shows the connection between dharma and environmentalism. They are the same need seen in terms of different orders of conditionality. ‘Ecodharma’ means facing reality and reducing unnecessary mental and physical activity to live more in accordance with ‘how things really are’. Unfortunately this is a collective activity and most of us don’t want to do it, so I suspect it may really be the end of the road for our Buddhism. However, this isn’t for certain. If the Buddha were alive today I imagine he would do what was necessary, which might even mean using a few supernormal abilities! The more something is out of balance the more application of force is necessary to correct that balance - like when a broomstick falls over. It is the same case in all orders of conditionality. The Buddha is the greatest of heroes; I imagine he would also be the greatest hero of environmental action. If we don’t have a living Buddha then Buddhists can be this themselves. Knowing the necessary from the unnecessary requires mindfulness - something Buddhists have in abundance. We need mindfulness of all five orders of conditionality. Reducing unnecessary effort in one order by itself is problematic to the extent that we are out of balance in another of the orders. This is because we are talking about emergent orders of a unified conditionality.
In the Kitagiri Sutta (MN 70) the Buddha talks about liberation in both ways – liberation of the body and liberation of the heart/mind. We can unpack this into liberation in five orders of conditionality. This means we can be liberated from dukkha that is environmentally based, biologically based, psychologically based, karmically based, and existentially based. One of the points the Buddha made was that someone could be fully liberated in terms of the heart/mind (fully enlightened) without the liberation of the body (access to the fourth jhana). In the same way we could be fully enlightened but at the same time have some kind of illness, or have some unfinished karma hanging over us. I imagine it’s also possible to live in an unhealthy environment and still get enlightened. I think what ‘emergence’ means in terms of the five orders is that imbalance in one order makes balance harder to achieve in the next and at some point that imbalance is just going to be too prohibitive of balance in the higher orders – making enlightenment impossible for most if not any of us. I think this is the case because this imbalance means dysregulation in the very energy and structure of our being. If we live in a toxic environment it’s harder to be healthy, biological dysfunction affects our psychology, psychological imbalance can make meditation impossible, etc. Most basically, if our environment does not sustain our biology then enlightenment will not be possible because there won't be any humans.