What a long and unsympathetic sounding word for something that should be very simple, namely a love of nature centred on the understanding that it is the creation of a Creator. The environment? Is that a word that conjures up in your mind birds, trees, plants, flowers, animals, fish? Does it speak of mountains, rivers, valleys, hills, fields and hedgerows? Are the wind or the sky or the sea or the desert the environment? Of course, in one sense they are but the point is that something real, life-giving, even alive in a way, and beautiful is often reduced to an object of science, and not just in the minds of professional scientists who analyse and dissect either. It is so too for activists (another terrible word speaking of aggressive ideology) who are supposed to be fighting (again, note the word) for its preservation.
There was a time when people who spoke out against the destruction of what we now call the environment did so from love of nature and a strong awareness of its beauty. Often, on some level at least even if that was only because they came from a world in which a divine reality had long been accepted, they were conscious that it was a gift, a garden to be tended, and though we were workers in the garden we were not the head gardener. Now the situation seems to have changed. Now, many people who would call themselves environmentalists don't believe in God and don't see nature as a creation. Sometimes their approach is purely pragmatic which is to say they want to preserve nature so that human beings can continue to exploit it only more sustainably, the utilitarian attitude. But sometimes much of their motivation seems to come not from love of God but a kind of hatred of mankind and this hatred they can best express by attacking mankind for what it is doing to the environment. They want human beings to take a hit because they don't like human beings or certain sectors of humanity anyway who are perceived as rich and powerful. Not because they love nature. Granted this is a simplification because motives are often mixed, but it is clearly a factor and sometimes a major one.
In the spiritual world (which is the real world) motivation is all-important. Why you do what you do matters much more than what you do though, clearly, the two are interlinked. And fundamentally the only good motivation to do anything is love of God. In the final analysis, what is not inspired by this is not well motivated. Trying to preserve nature or make a 'sustainable environment' if you do not know what (or who) created this is still all part of the rebellion against God. It is part of evil. When all is said and done, good can only flow from love of God. There is no good, none whatsoever, without God.
I have loved the natural world all my life. To begin with, just for itself but even then I felt there was this aspect of a veil to it and that behind it there was something more real and truer, the response to which is where this love came from. I never learnt how to drive a car, partly because of the noise and stink they made, partly because I suspect I am not really someone who can focus on mechanical things (this is not meant as a badge of honour, I see it as a defect), but very largely because I hated what roads had done to the countryside and the town. To nature. Don't get me wrong. I like roads as in tracks and paths that lead to new places and join separated people. But I hate them as metalled scars that deface the environment (appropriate use I would say) and don't blend in to their surroundings. And that take far too many vehicles on them which travel far too fast.
So I would regard myself as a lover of nature, as is any sane and normally constituted person, though now I see it as a creation. Which doesn't lessen it in itself. To see a saint as a person through whom God works doesn't lessen the individuality of that saint. It actually augments it and so it is with regard to nature as creation.
I love nature but I don't like the environmental lobby who often, not all but many and the most vociferous, use nature to advance a political agenda or an ideology that, when looked at clearly, denies God. If you deny the Creator of nature your understanding and appreciation of the natural world is much diminished, whatever wonders you may claim to find in it. And you are not on the side of the angels, not the good ones anyway.