Overdue Payments – Let us start paying up
Today, #Earthday is being celebrated around the world to support environmental protection; to think, plan, and act to fix our home. Our home came to us free with air, water, food, plants, animals, soil, minerals, and sunlight. How well have we managed it? How are we leaving it behind for future generations? Slightly better than we found it? The same as we found it? Worse than how we found it? Time to think and act.
We share this earth with a million and half of organisms that we know of. We keep some as pets, eat many, torture and kill them to test drugs, cosmetics and for defence research. And many are poached for their parts. Similarly, we exploit plants, water, soil, and air. Our approach has reduced the really complex symbiotic relationships with the earth and our co-travelers to a simplistic equation of exploitation and domination.
To redesign the world, we need to redefine these relationships in the following main aspects along with various support subsystems.
1. Optimize the human population to match the carrying capacity of the earth system. This requires a global approach and will stop the over-exploitation of resources. It will free up space for our co-travelers and reset healthy symbiotic relationships.
2. Redefine food. Reduce animal proteins, processed food, chemical additives, and preservatives.
3. Redefine our relationships with other living beings. Reduction or elimination of animal testing in non-essential areas like cosmetics, biological weapon research, defence, etc.
4. Generate renewable energy forms and rationalize consumption.
5. Ensure sufficient plant cover for the maintenance of a healthy oxygen cycle.
6. Redesign production-consumption systems suitable for different markets using technology to directly link producers and consumers. Provide higher value to actual producers.
Is this a grand gesture from us, the dominating species on earth, to all others? No. Not at all. It will be our plea and repayment of our overdue liabilities to ensure our own long term survival as a species.
It has to be based on our honest recognition that we have become an unnecessary and disposable nuisance for the earth. If we make some tough decisions, we may still have a chance to become more relevant to earth and live peacefully with everything else here. The alternative will be, as has happened with many dominating species like mammoths or dinosaurs, a grand correction by nature which we may or may not outlive.
Here are some specific actions to support this thinking
1. 2020 is a big election year, with 65 major elections worldwide. In these elections, a lot more is at stake than politics — the future of the planet depends on how we vote and for who. We have about 10 years to halve carbon emissions to avoid a climate catastrophe. But many world leaders are dragging their feet or are headed in the opposite direction. Nearly every country in the world has failed to meet goals set by the Paris Climate Accord, to limit global warming in this century, to “well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.” And recently the United States, the world’s second-largest carbon emitter, has been cutting regulations for everything from methane emissions to automobile standards.
2. We can build strong global awareness and a constituency. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we now use innovative ways to engage young people digitally. We can use these channels and media to educate, influence, activate, and mobilize large global constituencies; a great mission for NGOs and not-for-profit organizations committed to this cause. Such constituencies could vote globally against leaders who make decisions that mortgage our future. And globally there is only one future for us without any geographic or political boundaries. So, the elections this year can be used to reverse damages and redefine many aspects. It means asking political parties to clarify and confirm their stand on environmental issues and targets. Then let us vote for those who take it seriously and commit to specific targets and actions. Something we can all do if we recognize that political and other differences are minor compared to environmental issues that threaten our survival.
3. Post Corona days, there will be legitimate short term pressures to prioritize livelihood and commerce over environmental concerns. However, it is not an ‘either-or’ situation that we are in; but both and how much of each can we live without.
We already owe payments that are overdue to mother earth. Let us start the repayment. This blog series strives to create a body of thought to help us re-define and re-design our future from 2020.
The future blogs in this series will address various aspects that are introduced here along with supporting subsystems and processes. Please comment, critique and contribute to the creation of a body of thought to help us define our future.
Next Blog - We are too many on this planet