How to face Earth's new climate regime?

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By LEONARDO BOFF*

The system of its self-sustainment in all spheres that makes up a living planet, Great Mother or Gaia, is at risk of collapsing

Lately, many have asked me the reasons for so many extreme events that are occurring all over the planet: why are there so many typhoons, cyclones, floods, blizzards, prolonged droughts and heat waves with around 40C or more, whether in Europe or even in large part of our country? Until a few years ago, major scientific centers and even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were unsure about its nature, whether it was something natural or a consequence of human activity. Slowly the frequency of extreme events increased until science recognized that it was an anthropogenic event, that is, the result of human action devastating nature.

Some scientists projected the hypothesis that was later confirmed as a theory (true in science as long as it is not refuted) that a new geological era had begun. They rightly called her Anthropocene which followed the Holocene from which we came more than ten thousand years ago. It means that the grazing meteor that destroys nature and compromises the balance of the planet is the human being, especially the exploitative production process. Today this understanding has become naturalized in scientific discourses and also in the media.

Some biologists, seeing the extermination of living species due to climate change, began to talk about the necrocene that is to say, of death (necro in Greek), on a large scale, of lives; it would be a subchapter of the Anthropocene. The situation became much more serious with the outbreak of large fires in many regions of the planet, including those thought to be the wettest, such as the Amazon and Siberia. For such an event, extremely dangerous for the continuity of life on Earth, the expression was created pyrocene (in Greek piros is fire).

We would now be within various manifestations of imbalances in the Earth-system and in the life-system that force us to ask the question: what will the course of our history be like from now on? Unless we make courageous changes and continue along the path we have taken so far, we could experience true ecological-social tragedies. António Guterrez, Secretary General of the UN has used harsh expressions, stating: “either we will drastically reduce the emission of greenhouse gases or we will face collective suicide. Even more direct was Pope Francis, in his encyclical Fratelli tutti: “We are in the same boat, either we will all be saved or no one will be saved” (n. 32).

The fact is that the Earth is no longer the same. The system of its self-sustainment in all spheres that makes up a living planet, Great Mother or Gaia, is at risk of collapsing. Those who annually calculate the Overload of the Earth (The Earth Overshoot), that is, the increasing reduction of life-sustaining elements, occurred this year on August 2nd. They warn us that we cannot reach November because then the entire planetary system would collapse.

If everything has changed, we who are part of the Earth or, more correctly, that conscious portion of it, will also have to change and incorporate those adaptations that will allow us to continue on this planet. What is the basis for this adaptation?

Techno-science is certainly indispensable. But there is no solution there. She deals with the means. But means to what ends? These ends constitute that set of principles and values ​​that found a human society and allow a minimally peaceful coexistence, because, left to their own impulses, human beings can devour each other (overcoming barbarism).

The source of these values ​​and principles are not found in known and outdated utopias, in ideologies or religions. To be human, such values ​​and principles must be sought in human existence itself, when observed with attention and depth.

The first piece of information: it belongs to human DNA, as shown by one of the decipherers of the human genome (J. Watson, DNA: the secret of life, 1953) “social love”. Because of it, we feel related to all the bearers of this code, including living beings in nature. This social love founds a fraternity without borders, constituting the biotic community and human sociability. Essential care: since ancient times (fable 22 of Hyginus from the time of Caesar Augustus) it has been seen as the essence of the human being and of each and every living being.

If it is not taken care of, ensuring the necessary nutrients, it withers and dies. This includes keeping forests standing and reforesting devastated areas. The sense of interdependence between everyone is also in our DNA. We are all within a network of relationships and nothing exists and subsists outside this complex of relationships. It constitutes the relational matrix, lost in the capitalist mode of production that privileges competition and not cooperation and gives centrality to the individual, separated from their relationship to with nature.

It is also up to our human substrate, the perception of collective and universal co-responsibility, because either everyone comes together and saves each other or reality is torn apart with the risk of endless ecological-social tragedies. This sense of collective co-responsibility supports the most promising social project capable of safeguarding life that took shape in ecosocialism (cf. Michael Löwy). It would be humanity together with the community of life living within the same Common Home in a collaborative and welcoming way of differences.

Within this Common House, various cultural worlds coexist with their values ​​and traditions, such as the Chinese, Indian, European, American and indigenous cultural worlds, among others. Spirituality also belongs to the original human existence, which is made up of the appreciation of life, compassion for the weakest, care for everything that exists and lives and total openness to the infinite, since we are a project with infinite possibilities to be realized. This spirituality is not identified with religion, although this is born from spirituality, but with the values ​​mentioned above.

To achieve this way of inhabiting the Earth, humans will have to renounce many things, especially individualism, consumerism, the insatiable search for material goods and power over others. These are mandatory adaptations, if we decide to continue on this small and beautiful planet or else we will face all of the crises mentioned above that could, in the end, wipe out the human species.

In this sense we can speak of a recreation of the human being who adapted to the new phase of the Earth heated and balanced at a higher level of warming (between 38-40oW?). She will put life at her center and everything else at her service. As has already been said, the Land of Good Hope will finally be the anticipation of the myth of the original peoples: the Land without Evil.

*Leonardo Boff is an ecologist, philosopher and writer. Author, among other books, of Inhabiting the Earth: what is the path to universal fraternity (Voices). [https://amzn.to/3RNzNpQ]


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