Let me report… Of Nearly Everything: From Copenhagen, Durban, Rio+20 to Lima 2014), the conclusion remains the same: We need principles and accorded actions as this is the only way to tackle the grave problems of this planet.
We are lacking the elementary consensus in the Bretton Woods institutions, on Eastern Europe and Ukraine, on the WTO Doha Development round, on a nuclear non-proliferation (and NPT), in the IPCC, on the post-Kyoto negotiations, and finally on the alarming state of environment. Ergo, on a global scale we fundamentally disagree on realities of this planet and the ways we can address them.(1)
I am neither moralizing & idealizing nor agonizing. The world based on agreed principles and commonly willing actions is not a better place. It is the only way for the human race to survive.
Already some years ago, I noted in my writings (and in my lectures) that the confrontational nostalgia and academic inertia keeps recycling the Cold-War rhetoric, although the Soviet Union has disappeared from the geopolitical map over two decades ago. Hence, if these practitioners and thinkers are so fascinated with the simplified either with us, or against us logics – let’s keep it then! Adjusted to reflect our today’s realities (or as the grand Wiz of the EU, Jean Monnet used to say: if you have an unsolvable dilemma – enlarge the context), it would state as follows: either your socio-economic and politico-military policies and practices are for this planet and the very survival of human race or you are against the planet and every form of life inhabiting it.(2) What we have recently witnessed in MENA (including the unmentioned and unmentionable) and elsewhere, is highly disturbing and rather discouraging: as if the confrontational nostalgia, perpetuated by the intense competition over finite resources, in lieu of a real, far-reaching policy-making has prevailed again.(3)
We falsely believed, throughout the 20th century, that the nuclear holocaust will put an end to the entire human race. No! It will be a slow, nearly-unnoticed, gradual but steady construction of the global gas chamber (filled by the green-house gas emissions). And, this is not an environmental alarmism as the environmental nihilists, or to say lobbyists would like to water it down. The way we extract, produce, transport, distribute and consume, the way we keep all this running on a blind obedience to hydrocarbons, and finally the way how we do reflect, contemplate and study on all that (and live in denial of it), inevitably takes us right into the environmental holocaust.(4)
What we euphemistically call Climate Change is actually a brutal war against nature. It is a covert armed conflict since we are predominantly using the so-called monetizing-potent ‘technologies’ instead of firearms in our hands. (For this purpose hereby, the army units are replaced by the demolition-man of other name; ‘transnational corporations’.) This armed insurgency is waged against most of what is beautiful and unique on Earth – on the planet that gave us time and space enough to survive as species and to evolve as cognitive life. Thus, the known sustainability matrix of 3 maximums (of good, of species, and of time) becomes the maximum species, minimum time, and the maximum harm.(5)
Intentionally or not, it is a synchronized attack: We are steadily and passionately polluting our public sphere with the diverting banalities manufactured by the so-call social networks, reality shows, ‘celebrities’ and the like – trivializing the contents of our lives. At the same time, we are massively contaminating our biosphere (waters, lands, air and near outer space) with non-degradable and/or toxic, solid or aerosol, particles radiation and noise – irreversibly harming our habitat. We pollute the time as well, turning it into cross-generation warfare’s battlefield: Our dangerous patterns might seal off the fate for untold number of generations and sorts of species to come. No wonder, our corrosive assertiveness has (time-space) parallels: acidifying of oceans and brutalization of our human interactions, as well as over-noising both are just two sides of a same coin. What is the social sphere for society that is the biosphere for the very life on earth: the (space/time – content/form) frame we live in all.
Therefore, our crisis cannot be environmental, as it was never a financial – our crisis must be a moral one. This is a cognitive deficit crisis, which we would love to eagerly spend in a limbo of denial!
Are we intentional in persistently spreading climate-change denial? Has the human race already passed the point of no return of its survival? Frankly, we do not know! Very sincerely, we do not care!
In every OECD country, an ordinary plumber (with just a few years of formal education and of no expectation pressure) is of a considerably better income then the university professor or the hospital doctor with a higher medical specialization (both of the huge societal responsibilities and both with over two decades of studies through the rigorous selections). Per average, the bank clerk (with under- or Matura level) of any banking entity in the EU states earns 14 to 16 salaries annually (basically, creating no new value for the society), but is nearly – per definition – protected by a life-long employment contract. At the same time, the majority of the EU double-PhD top researchers (per definition, creating a new value for the society) have comparably lower total annual pay, and many of them are just happy to win a 2 to 5 years research contract with the murky hope that the funding might be extended.(6)
Nearly all football players in the European Premier League, as well as the Formula I drivers (essentially the modern age gladiators, usually with a little to no formal education whatsoever) have individually higher yearly income than many key research institutes in the OECD states can afford to spend annually. Besides the superficial entertainment (enveloped in the ovations of masses on a brink of collective orgasm à la Mussolini parades), it is actually a triumph of brutal competition or competing brutality (football) and a massive exhaustion of hydrocarbons (Formula I) – what added value do they create to be so disproportionately overpaid?(7)
Some may contra-argue by stating that the present-day football celebrates the sports and a healthy life though the triumph of the physical strength of a sportsman. The Antique Greece has celebrated its athletes, and nearly worshiped the contesters and winners of the Games paying a tribute to the all-mighty Olympus. Equally, the old Greeks largely encouraged and celebrated, promoted and (financially) supported its philosophers and scientists. It was the age when the consciousness blossomed, wisdom flourished and knowledge triumphed – the theoretical basis of all essential technological breakthroughs, that occurred in the course of subsequent centuries up to nowadays, are in fact originating from the Ancient Eagan world. Ergo, the Classic times knew about the important equilibrium between an intellect and human body.(8) Modern Age has forgotten, disregarded, abandoned, betrayed and tacitly ridiculed this evolutionary wisdom.
Irrespective of our wrongly placed priorities (and passionately sustained craving to re-channel and discourage, to derail and denounce any serious debate, far too often by hiding behind a superficial entertainment), of our obscure and encouraged greed and incompetence, of our silencing, of all our residual or imposed ignorance and arrogance, and of our paramount and loud anti-intellectualism, the real facts are immitigable and are inexorably defeating:
– There is not a single peer-reviewed international journal that has published even one scientific article in last 30 years, which reports on factual evidences that any organic (marine and conti- nental biota) or inorganic (soil, glaciers, water, polar caps, etc) system is doing better on this planet.
– There has not been a single RE or UN report in last 30 years that credibly denies a worrying increase in severity and frequency of “natural” catastrophes worldwide.
– Finally, there is not a single internationally recognized medical journal that has not been constantly reporting on an alarming increase in skin-cancers, respiratory and allergy related diseases for the past 30 years.
We are drifting, dissolving and retreating on all levels and within each and every organic or inorganic system. For the grave, burning planetary problems, our human race needs an urgent and lasting consensus which presupposes bravery, virtue, vision and creativity. All this will not result from fear of coercion, or from further military (nuclear) confrontations, but from the universally shared willingness to accord our common planetary cause. Cognitive mind can do it all.
(1) Additionally, we fundamentally disagree on a role to be played by technology, even on a very definition on what should be considered as technology. Technology is not a state-of-art of science; technology is a state of mind! It is not a linear progression in mastering the natural science disciplines, but a cognitive, emphatic cluster–mastering of the critical insight.
(2) As H. G. Wells once said in a different context: It is clearly the universe or nothing!
(3) Sagan, the great Cosmic Fugue’s storyteller, claims: “Up there in the immensity of the Cosmos, an inescapable perception awaits us. National boundaries are not evident when we view the Earth from space. Fanatical ethnic, religious or national chauvinisms are a little difficult to maintain when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars”.
(4) It is not only that our energy appetite is increasing. In a peak-time of what we call the ‘technological age’, our inability to achieve any global energy efficiency is widening as well. According to the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), the total Primary Energy Supply (PES) in 1973 totalled at 6.107 Mtoe while the global Final Energy Consumption (FEC) for the same year totalled at 4.672 Mtoe. Still over 90% based on fossil hydrocarbons but already doubled in less than 40 years, the PES in 2010 was at 12.717 Mtoe while our FEC scored only 8.677 Mtoe. Ergo, we greedily demand more to burn but also to waste.
(5) The Geneva-based Global Humanitarian Forum (GHF) headed by former UN Secretary General Kofi has stated in its Report the following: „Climate change is responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and affects 300 million people annually. By 2030, the annual death toll related to climate change is expected to rise to 500,000 people, and economic cost rocketing to $ 600 billion.” Usually the confidential reports of the reinsurance industry leaders such as Swiss RE or Munich RE are less optimistic and more realistic than this one of the GHF.
(6) However, ignorance is bliss: In 2010, the GHF that authored such an indispensable report: Human Impact Report – Climate Change: The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis, has shut down for lack of funds. The organization was unable to raise enough cash to stay afloat “because of the global economic crisis. On 31 March 2010 the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs announced that the Forum was over-indebted and obliged to cease its activity. “
(7) Finalists of different TV primetime tirades (so-called Reality shows) that mushroomed in the last decade are receiving generous paychecks and enormous media coverage. This is the way how these anonymous nobodies are overnight becoming prominent celebrities, societal roll-models with the wide influence, unquestionable authority and respect in the blink of an eye. In this constellation a subtle, yet message is clear: the education and to it related creativity, innovations, patents, and discoveries – notably a regular career path based on a diligent creation of new value for the entire society appears as a choice for the misfortunate youth, as the last resort for the failed segments of society.
(8) As Plato claims, the famous philosopher from Miletus Thales’ saying Νοῦς ὑγιὴς ἐν σώματι ὑγιεῖ – Healthy Soul in a Healthy Body (or in Latin: Mens sana in corpore sano).
1. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UN FCCC/1992/84, GE.05-62220 (E) 200705 and the Kyoto Protocol to the UN FCCC of 1998, UN Office of Legal Affairs;
2. Final Document: Durban Climate Summit 2011, The Climate Institute;
3. IEA (2011), World Energy Outlook 2011, OECD – IEA Publications
4. Sagan, C. (1980), Cosmos Random House, NY /Carl Sagan Productions Inc. (page: 109)
5. Global Humanitarian Forum (2009), Human Impact Report – Climate Change: The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis, GHF, Geneva
6. Dresner, S. (2002), The Principle of Sustainability, EarthScan London
7. Smith, L.C. (2010), The World in 2050 – Four Forces Shaping Civilization’s Northern Future, Dutton (by Penguin group)
8. Bajrektarevic, A. (2004), Environmental Ethics, Lectures/Students Reader, Vienna (IMC University Krems), Austria
Blessing In Disguise: The Lockdown-Effect On Environment
Authors: Deepanjali Jain and Prateek Khandelwal*
From one Wuhanese to over 4 million humans, the coronavirus has shackled pillars and institutions of our civilisation. The pandemic has socially distanced humans and spread fear which could be gauged from any nook and corner of the world. Though it seems, nature can finally breathe after decades, the signatures of which were visible from space.
As the factories and vehicle closed, dirty brown pollution belts shrunk over industrial centres in the country within days after lockdown. After decades of relentless exploitation, the human footprint on the earth has lightened. The persistent denial by the industrialist got an answer that climate change is real and that it is a reflection of human ‘exploitation’. The overexploitation of nature is fuelled by human greed, where consumption increases production and vice-versa. This vicious cycle depletes the natural ability of environment, which can be sensed in the lockdown months, to balance itself and so disrupts ecology.
COVID-19 is not only a pandemic; it reflects a broader trend that more planetary crisis is scheduled for upcoming years. While we muddle through each new crisis, with the current economic model, then the repercussions will eventually exceed the capacity of financial institutions to respond. Indeed, the “corona crisis” has already done so. For just climate transition, new economic reforms should have a blueprint for “planned degrowth” that emphasizes on the wellbeing of people over profit margins.
The initial move towards this is assuring the incentives that governments are announcing across the globe are not exhausted on bailing out corporations. Instead, the funds should be allocated to decentralised renewable energy production to implement the ‘Green’ New Deal and create meaningful jobs for ‘the Great Depression’ post-COVID-19. Along with this, the state should enact on the provision of social welfare such as universal healthcare and free education for all vulnerable populations.
Though set for 2025, by G7 and many European countries, elimination of perverse fossil-fuel subsidies can be done amid the recent oil-price plunge. It is the appropriate moment to deploy renewable energy technologies, which are now globally accessible without any economic barrier and phase out age-old fossil fuel.
A shift from exploitative industry setup to regenerative industries is immediately feasible. Also, it would allow us to sequester carbon emission spread by the current economic framework at a rate that is ample to reverse the ongoing climate crisis. This will have a positive impact on the environment and improve global wellbeing; also, it would turn to be an economically profit-enhancing model.
Though defined with differences and demarcated with boundaries, the planet with various species, nations, and geopolitical issues are ultimately interconnected. COVID-19 narrated that crisis does not observe national or even physical borders; the same is the case with climate change, biodiversity loss, and other environmental problem. Collective actions to curb these from becoming a full-blown crisis can only help in managing these issues. The current rescue plan for battling COVID-19 could usher these changes, as we are getting accustomed to the lifestyle and economic pattern that minimise consuming.
With the idea of sticking with this development structure, Governments can succeed in curbing the Corona epidemic. But we should move a step ahead to do a greater good for society and nature. The use of science can be moulded to construct an economy that will not mitigate the threats of climate change, biodiversity loss, pandemics and other challenges. A green economy should be laid down that has a preamble of nature-based solutions and is geared toward the public good.
Obviously, the circumstances are not ideal, but the rapid reflex actions and response to the virus of mutual aid also illustrates that human society is capable of controlling and working collectively in the face of a grave pandemic. The phase of development which humans are at, they are entrepreneurial and capable to begin again perfectly. If we learn from our failures and embrace this moment of upheaval as an opportunity to invest in shared prosperity, planetary health, and green economy, we can build a brighter future than the one we are heading towards. We have long since exceeded our natural limits; it is time to try something new.
*Prateek Khandelwal is a 2nd Year student pursuing B.B.A., LL.B. (Hons.) from Chanakya National Law University, Patna.
How video games are joining the fight to save the planet
As bush fires were raging across Australia in December 2019, players of Space Ape video games reached out to the company and asked what they could do to help. The London-based firm quickly put an in-game purchase into several of its mobile titles, with all proceeds going to either a wildlife or humanitarian charity working in the area.
In just four days the company raised $120,000.
“That just speaks to how much people want to do good,” said Deborah Mensah-Bonsu, former Head of Content at Space Ape Games, who now runs her own consultancy focused on using games for social impact.
Now, the video game industry is poised to roll up its sleeves and do even more for the planet. In August 2020, some of the biggest names in mobile gaming unveiled a series of environmentally themed missions and messages that will be integrated into popular titles, such as Angry Birds 2, Golf Clash and Subway Surfers. The additions will encourage players to do things like combat climate change or protect endangered wolves. The initiative is part of a push by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to work with game developers to raise awareness about pressing environmental issues.
“Video gaming is one of the biggest communication mediums on the planet,” says Sam Barratt, Chief of Education and Advocacy with UNEP. “We aim to support the industry to encourage gamers to be educated, inspired and activated around the wider environmental agenda, and so far it seems to be working.”
Globally, 2.6 billion people play video games and a growing number are taking an interest in the environment and conservation. A 2019 UNEP report, Playing for the Planet, found that video games could engage billions to contribute to solutions to social and environmental challenges.
The video game industry has yearly revenues of $140 billion—more than Hollywood, Bollywood and recorded music sales combined. In 2017, 666 million people watched other people play games on YouTube and Twitch – more than the combined audience of HBO, ESPN and Netflix. According to the UNEP report, channelling even a small portion of that attention and the industry’s revenues towards the planet would create tremendous impact in the real world.
Playing for the Planet
Space Ape is one of 25 members of UNEP’s Playing for the Planet Alliance, an initiative that aims to harness the power of gaming to encourage action on climate change. The project, which launched in 2019, has reached more than 970 million players. In joining the alliance, game companies make commitments, ranging from integrating green activations into games to reducing their emissions to supporting the global environmental agenda.
The alliance held a Green Game Jam earlier this year which saw 11 mobile game companies compete to add a sustainability element to one of their existing games, a so-called “green nudge.” The objectives included asking players to make personal commitments, like skipping meat on Mondays or biking to work, or designing green environments, solar panels or electric cars into games.
Space Ape, whose game Transformers: Earth Wars contains environmental themes in the original storyline, picked renewable energy. For the updated release, it brought both good and evil Transformers together to find a new technology to harvest Earth’s energy resources more sustainably.
Mensah-Bonsu says that the company also wanted to give players a call to action, so it asked them to take a pledge to switch their lightbulbs from incandescents to LEDs.
California-based Pixelberry Studios focused on climate change in its title “Choices.” The game centres on a young woman who returns to her coastal hometown where there has been a large fish die-off. The girl’s younger sister is convinced the die-off is connected to climate change, despite skepticism from local politicians and business owners. The player’s role is to help their young sister rally others and raise awareness about climate change.
Saran Walker, one of the writers at Pixelberry, said the team had read dozens of articles about younger generations experiencing anxiety around climate change. (A recent survey of millennials — 30,000 individuals under the age of 30 from 186 countries confirmed this — finding that climate change and destruction of nature were the most critical issues for them.)
“We were all really inspired by Greta Thunberg’s story,” Walker said, referring to the young Swedish environmental activist. “Anyone at the company who has kids is thinking about what kind of world are they going to leave to their children. We wanted to show people that they can actually do a lot as an individual.”
A shift in the industry
The gaming industry is also considering how it can become carbon neutral, or in some cases carbon positive – a welcome move for a sector that has been scrutinized for its environmental footprint. Currently, 50 million tons of electronic waste is generated annually, with that number projected to reach 120 million tons by 2050.
Supercell, which makes mobile titles, recently committed to going entirely carbon neutral and offsetting the carbon dioxide used by players when playing their games. Rovio and Space Ape aim to take similar action.
The Playing for the Planet Alliance will share guidance with its members on how to decarbonize, with Sony leading a working group that includes other console makers. The alliance will help devise a new carbon calculator for the industry, develop fresh guidance on offsetting and forge new collective commitments around the restoration of forest landscapes, which help absorb carbon emissions.
“When we set out on this journey we wanted to help others in the industry too,” said Mensah-Bonsu. “If we all do our part, we can make a change in the world.”
Green Politics: The hope for a better tomorrow
Authors: Anurag Mishra and Aaditya Vikram Sharma
Green Political Parties in India
To pick from the last instalment, the culture of Indian environmentalism is indeed ancient and quite veritably primitive. For the record, India has various Green parties. The prominent one is of course is the India Greens Party which runs as an offshoot of the Global Greens and is a full member of the Asia Pacific Greens Federation. To take a measure of how green politics fares in the Indian context would only require us to take a quick visit to the Indian Green Party’s website. The events calendar for the IGP is blank for the month of July as well as the previous month. The last press release made by the IGP was in the month of March. A google search doesn’t even yield a Wikipedia page for the IGP because there isn’t one.
The Coronavirus pandemic poses a grave danger to humanity but also throws open an opportunity for laying the path which the posterity will tread. It is however disheartening that the response to the pandemic has more or less remained limited to desperate search for a vaccine. A vaccine nevertheless is the acute need of the hour but what is of no less importance is a future plan for humanity which is closer to nature and yet at a safe distance.
Global Green Political Parties
Here, we look at the contemporary Green parties around the world. We primarily focus on North America and the Asia Pacific. In North America, Canada got its first Green parties starting 1983. Being a federal country, Canada has such parties present on provincial as well as the national level. The provincial parties include the Green Party of Ontario, the Green Party of Prince Edward Island, the Green Party of British Columbia and the Green Party of New Brunswick. The parliamentarians who get elected are colloquially known as “Green MLAs.” In the United States of America, the Green Party of the United States happens to be the primary such entity. It should be noted that as of April 2018, 156 Greens held elective office across the US in 19 states. The states with the largest numbers of Green elected officials are California (68), Connecticut (15), and Pennsylvania (15). Titles of offices held include: Alderman, Auditor, Board of Appeals, Board of Finance, Board of Selectmen, Borough Council, Budget Committee, Circuit Court Judge, City Council and so on. The Green Party has contested six U.S.A. presidential elections: in 1996 and 2000 with Ralph Nader for president and Winona LaDuke as vice president, in 2004 with David Cobb for president and Pat LaMarche for vice president, and in 2008 with Cynthia McKinney for president and Rosa Clemente for vice president. In 2000, Nader received more votes for president than any Green Party candidate before or since. Jill Stein ran for president on the Green ticket in 2012 and 2016; the vice-presidential candidates were Cheri Honkala in 2012 and Ajamu Baraka in 2016. Stein, who received over one million votes in the 2016 race, led unsuccessful attempts toward 2016 election recounts in three states: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
On the other side of the planet, the Asia Pacific Greens Federation is of prominence. It is a federation of national Green parties, social and environmental organizations in countries in the Pacific Ocean and Asia, and is one of the four federations that constitute the Global Greens. 32 Parties from 30 nations got together in February 2005 in Kyoto, Japan, to found the network. There they elected a Membership Panel, and delegates to the Global Greens Coordination (GGC). The federation has a presence in countries such as Australia, India, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Korea etc.
A Common Agenda?
The Agenda of these parties overall can be derived through their principles and policies- a list of such guidelines available on some websites of the Green parties. Overall these can be divided into the following headers- Ecological Wisdom, Social Justice, Participatory Democracy, Non-violence, Sustainability and Respect for Diversity. Overall, the idea seems to be in conformity with international treaties and upcoming practices for environmental governance. The agendas also seem to comply with global requirements for climate commitments, such as that of the Paris Agreement.
However, environmental policies are just one part of international relations. Thus, it is not clear what the other policies of green parties would be. Thus, their agenda needs to more well defined and encompassing.
Netflix released the second season of its popular school drama The Politician last month. Where the first season of the series had focused almost entirely upon the protagonist’s political ambition and his run to the office of school president, the second season centred around his political campaign based entirely upon environmentalism. A strong movement requires novel instruments of mass mobilization and symbols which people can relate to and take to. The Global Green Movement needs to make itself ‘catchy’ to generate mass participation without which it is bound to remain a fringe movement even after fifty years since the United Tasmania Group coming into being. What seems to be the only way forward is mainstreaming of the Green agenda and making it “cool” and part of the popular culture.
However, it is not just awareness that would suffice and thus the scientific developments in the areas of energy, agriculture and food among other things need unprecedented attention and investment. In the food industry, the way Veganism has caught people from diverse range of countries is an example how an idea can travel far and wide and can bring about even the most difficult and unimaginable lifestyle changes. The technology has tried keeping pace with companies like Impossible Foods and Green Meat Co. coming up with vegetable based meat etc. The growing popularity of EVs and renewable sources of energy have steadily moved in the direction of creating a global ecosystem based on the idea of sustainability and environmentalism. All we need is a huge push and unrelenting spirit.
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