Such as they are, Earth and Humanity cannot go on like this, risking suffering a socio-ecological Armageddon.
Several snares threaten the life-system and Earth-system: nuclear holocaust, ecological catastrophe of global warming and shortage of drinking water, socio-economic systemic catastrophe with the radicalization of neoliberalism producing an extreme accumulation at the expense of astonishing poverty, moral catastrophe with general lack of sensitivity towards large suffering majorities, political catastrophe with global resurgence of the right and corrosion of democracies. As they stand, Earth and Humanity cannot continue like this, risking suffering an eco-social Armageddon.
Focusing on Brazil’s recent scenario, heavy rains in February 2020 with disastrous floods that hit several cities in the country, and in parallel terrible fires in Australia immediately followed by unpredictable flooding, such extremes events are unmistakable signs that Earth has lost its balance and is looking for a new one. Again, this could mean the devastation of major portions of the biosphere and a significant part of human species.
This will happen; simply, we do not know when, or how. The fact is that we are already in the sixth mass extinction. According to some scientists, we have inaugurated a new geological era, that of the Anthropocene, in which human activity is responsible for the destruction of the foundations that sustain life.
Different scientific centers that systematically monitor the state of the Earth attest that, year by year, the main elements that perpetuate life (water, soil, air, fertility, climate and other) daily deteriorate. When will this stop?
On July 29, 2019, we reached the Earth Overshoot Day (overload day). It means that, on this date, all natural resources available for that year have already been consumed. From that day on, within that year’s accounting, Earth goes into red numbers, and bank overdraft. How do we get to December? If we insist on maintaining current consumption, we must apply violence against Earth forcing her to give us what she no longer has or cannot replace. Her reaction to this violence is expressed by the various ecological and social phenomena already mentioned, especially by increasing carbon dioxide and methane (23 times more harmful than CO2) and the growth of social violence, as the Earth and humanity constitute a single relational entity.
Either we change our relationship with live Earth and nature or, according to Sigmund Bauman, “we will swell the procession of those who turn to their own grave.” This time, we do not have Noah’s Ark in which we can take refuge.
We have no choice but to change. Whoever believes in the savior messianism of science is a dreamer: science can accomplish much, but not everything: Can she stop the winds, contain the rains, and limit the rise of the oceans? It is not enough to decrease the dose and continue with the same poison that is, just grinding down the wolf’s teeth; he will remain fierce.
We urgently need to take a different kind of relationship with nature and Earth, contrary to the dominant model. Needless to say that a new paradigm to produce, distribute, consume and live in the same Common House is needed. The change requires building some pillars, the foundations that support the new paradigm. Otherwise, we will always repeat the same thing and in a worse way. It is as if we were to heal Earth’s wounds by covering them with Band-Aids.
First: we need a different spiritual vision of the world and its corresponding ethics. This, in my view, does not necessarily have to do with religion, but with a new experience of reality, a certain sensitivity and a different spirit. Thus, the alternative is this:
- Either we relate to Nature and the Earth like a resource trunk for our exploitation and use, wanting to subject them to our purposes (this is the current paradigm)
- Or we relate to them feeling part of Nature and Earth, adapting to their rhythms, not on top but at the same level as all creatures, with consciousness to nurture and protect them so that they continue to exist and give the community of Life, of which we are members, everything it needs to live and continue to co-evolve. This is the alternative paradigm. It implies respect and veneration, since we form an organic whole in which each being has a value in itself, regardless of the use we give it, but always related to everyone else.
This new sensitivity and different spirituality form the new paradigm, which can lead to another type of civilization, integrated into the whole, and another way of inhabiting the Common House. Without this sensitivity / spirituality and its translation into an ecological ethic, we will not be able to overcome the current “chaotic” chaos. We strongly reiterate it all depends on the kind of relationship that we establish with Earth and nature: either of use and exploitation, or of membership and respectful and caring coexistence.
Second: we need to rescue the heart, affection, empathy and compassion. This dimension of the pathos has been neglected in the name of objectivity of the techno-science. However, love nests in her, as sensitivity to others, ethical values and spiritual dimension. If there is no room for affection and heart, there is no reason to respect nature and listen to the messages that, in this case, are sent by floods and global warming. Techno-science has produced a kind of lobotomy in humans who no longer feel her cries. They imagine that Earth is a simple pantry of infinite provisions at the service of a project of infinite enrichment. A finite planet does not support an infinite project. We must move from a consumerist and industrialist society that exhausts nature to a society that preserves and cares for all life forms and exercises a responsible and shared consumption. We must articulate heart and reason to meet the complexity of our societies.
Third: take seriously the principle of care and caution. Either we care what remains of nature, regenerate what we have devastated and prevent new depredations, as the MST proposed for 2020, planting one million trees in areas devastated by agribusiness, or our type of society will have its days numbered .
Caution requires that no action is taken or experiments performed whose consequences cannot be controlled. In addition, ancient and modern philosophy has already seen that caring belongs to the human essence, and furthermore, it is the necessary precondition for the emergence of any being. It is also the anticipated guide of all action. If Life, also ours, is not care for, it becomes sick and dies. Prevention and care are critical in the field of nanotechnology and autonomous artificial intelligence. The latter, with its millions of data algorithms, can make decisions, without our knowledge, and penetrate nuclear arsenals, activate the warheads and launch them, ending our civilization.
Fourth: respect for all beings. Each being has intrinsic value and has its place in the whole of beings. Even the smallest of them reveals something of the mystery of the world and the Creator. Respect imposes limits on our voracious predatory and consumerist system. Who better formulated an ethic of respect was doctor and philosopher Albert Schweitzer (+1965). He taught: ethics is the unlimited responsibility and respect for everything that exists and lives. This respect for others obliges us to tolerance, which is urgent in the world and among us, particularly under the Brazilian extreme-rightwing government that breeds contempt for blacks, Indians, quilombolas, LGBT people and women.
Fifth: Attitudes of solidarity and cooperation are needed. This is the basic law of the universe and organic processes. All energies and all beings cooperate to maintain dynamic equilibrium, ensure diversity and that everyone can co-evolve. The purpose of evolution is not to grant victory to the most adaptable, but to allow that every being, even the most fragile one, can express potentialities that emerge from that Background or Deep Energy that makes it all, that is holding everything in every moment, from where everything was created and everything returns. Today, due to the general degradation of human and natural relationships, we, as life project, must be consciously supportive and cooperative. Otherwise, we will not save life or ensure a promising future for humanity. The economic system and market are not based on cooperation but competition, the most rampant. That is why they create so many inequalities, to the extent that 1% of humanity has the equivalent to the remaining 99%.
Sixth: Collective responsibility is essential. To be responsible is to realize the consequences of our actions. Today, we have built the principle of our self-destruction. Thus, the categorical decision is act so responsibly that the consequences of your actions are not destructive to life and their future and do not trigger self-destruction.
Seventh: undertake every effort to achieve a bio-civilization centered on Life and Earth. Everything else is intended for this purpose.
Finally, the time of nations has passed. Now, in the context of a new paradigm, it is time to build and safeguard “the common destiny of Earth and Humanity.” Its realization will only be achieved if we build upon the aforementioned pillars. Then we can live and live together, live together and radiate, radiate and enjoy the joyful Celebration of Life.
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