From Rio to Rio with Kyoto, Copenhagen and Durban in between Paris right after and the recent China’s G-20, the conclusion remains the same: There is fundamental disagreement on the realities of this planet and the ways we can address them.
A decisive breakthrough would necessitate both wider contexts and a larger participatory base to identify problems, to formulate policies, to broaden and to synchronize our actions. Luminaries from the world of science, philosophy, religion, culture and sports have been invited to each of these major gatherings. But, they – as usual – have served as side-events panelists, while only the politicians make decisions. Who in politics is sincerely motivated for the long-range and far reaching policies? This does not pay off politically as such policies are often too complex and too time-consuming to survive the frequency and span of national elections as well as the taste or comprehension of the median voter.
Our global crisis is not environmental, financial or politico-economic. Deep and structural, this is a crisis of thought, a recession of courage, of our ideas, all which leads us into a deep, moral abyss. Small wonder, there was very little headway made at the Rio+20, Paris Summit and beyond.
Between the fear that the inevitable will happen and the lame hope that it still wouldn’t, we have lived… That what can be and doesn’t have to be, at the end, surrenders to something that was meant to be…
If the subatomic world surface to an atomic, quantum scientist (or metaphysicist) invites physicist. If atoms are creating an advanced molecule, physicists can call up the chemists. If such an organic molecule evolves too complex for the chemists, they shift it over to the biologists. If a biological system is too composite, they hand it over to the socio-politologists, or the psychologists, at best. If that biota becomes overwhelmingly complex, one needs geo-politics to connect (all) inorganic and organic systems into a coherent space-time storyline. Do we really behave this way?
Enlightened Behind or dead Ahead?
Is Greece (or Spain) lagging 20 years behind the rest of the EU or is Greece today well ahead of the rest of the continent, which will face a similar fate two decades from now? Beyond the usual political rhetoric, this is the question that many circles in Europe and elsewhere are discreetly, but thoroughly discussing. In a larger context, the intriguing intellectual debates are heating up.
Issues are fundamental: Why has science converted into religion? Practiced economy is based on the over 200-years old liberal theory of Adam Smith and the over 300-years old philosophy of Hobbes and Locke– basically, frozen and rigidly canonized into a strict exegesis. Academic debate has been replaced by a blind obedience to old ‘scientific’ dogmas.
Why has religion been transformed into confrontational political doctrine (holy scripts are misinterpreted and ideologically misused in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, the Americas and Africa)?Why have (secular or theological) ethics been turned from bio-centric comprehension into anthropocentric environmental egotism and ignorance (treating nature as property, rather than a coherent system that contextualizes our very life)? Why are – despite all our research studies, institutions and instruments – planetary inequalities and exclusions widening? Why has been our freedom reduced to a lame here-us-now choice to consume?
Why doesn’t the achieved degree of our economic development and stage of our techno-logical advancement enable society for self-realization? To the contrary, our democracies are in retreat, our visions are exhausted and self-confidence depleted, while the socio-cultural and political participatory base is thinning. After all, is Rio ahead of itself 20 and 25 years later?
The resonance of these vital debates is gradually reaching the public. No one can yet predict the range and scope of their responses, internally and externally. One thing is certain though: The simple mechanical transmission of global economic (and regional monetary) integration cannot be a substitute for any viable postindustrial, knowledge-based development strategy, scientific advancement or cultural endorsement. Even less so, it can substitute for any social cohesion and the cross-generational contract, environmental needs (including the biocapacity and biodiversity), or maintaining general public mental and physical health.
(Tao) Creek, not only Greek
By roughly summing up the data provided by the World Bank and OECD, the world’s gross annual output is somewhere between €85 and 95 trillions (thousand billions). Servicing of different loans and related interest rates to public and private debts, per annum, cumulatively costs this planet some € 195 to 210 trillions. In simple terms, it means we produce 1, but owe 2 to the different credit institutions. How can it be that year after year we work harder and harder, but are still becoming socio-economically poorer and culturally pauperized, while generational accounting gives us a worrying future prospect?
Is our environmental situation any better? By applying the same data’s ecological footprint ratios, mankind annually extracts from the ecosystem the biomatter and minerals for 1, out of which only 10% end up as a final product. At the same time, we pollute waters, land, air and near outer space with non-degradable and/or toxic, solid or aerosol, particles and noise for 2. Despite all the purifiers, cleaners, separators, distillations, silencers and filters, our surroundings are becoming filthier and filthier. Does this earn the right to be called ‘development’ at all? Over centuries, especially in the last decades, we indeed intensified, rationalized and optimized our economic activities as well as related technologies and information flows. Still, could it be that despite our push with the right intensity, the overall direction of that push is wrong?
To answer these simply-worded but questions of sensitive and complex (selfhood) meaning, we definitely have to enlarge the context. For that sake, let’s return to Greece.
First, a few words about a term in frequent common use: cosmos. The expression cosmos itself is of Greek origins (κόσμος) and means: a harmony, perfect order, and is opposite to the Greek word khaos/chaos (χάος), which means: confusion, disorder, asynchrony (also an unordered and formless primordial mass or even nothingness). The fascinating classic-Greek mythology thoroughly describes the creation of the world, as an event marked by the final victory of the forces of cosmos over the forces of chaos. It is a thrilling ancient text, marvelous in its beauty and symbolism.
“You Are the Sunshine of My Life…”
In the modern scientific and philosophical (or astronomic, esoteric and theological) sense, the word cosmos should describe (a dependent origination of) everything (of the manifested, comprehensible and visible universe as well as the non-comprehensible potentiality and invisible universes/multiverse) that nature and/or God has created. As everything that has been, is and will ever be conceived as a time–space, matter–energy and force (with all the properties and all their conceivable aggregate states/stages, elevations and degrees), particle – wave-function (consciousness-information), cosmos is nature and/or God itself. It is all that ever begins (from), lasts (with/in) and ends in (returns to) the quantum field.
Contemporary astrophysics claims that the known or comprehensible universe is expanding, still being powered by the quantum event generally referred to in literature as the big-bang (or perhaps the Higgs Boson particle recently reviled by CERN). Up to now, there is no general consensus of the scientific community on what is the property (nature) of the invisible, inter-stellar and inter-galactic space (dark matter). However, it is certain that the visible stellar universe is mainly composed of two elements only: helium and hydrogen. Thus, stars – this backbone of the universe – are predominantly (to 99%) made of these two elements. Tantalizingly enough, the colony of progressing biped primates, while evenly spreading over this planet, has developed a strong technological, civilizational and physiological culture of addiction to a completely other element: carbon.
Earth is practically bathing in immense spectrums of sun-rays. This solar radiation that our star supplies above us is practically an infinite source of energy. The core of our mother planet is still kinetically and thermally very active, meaning that humans in fact sit atop a source of inexhaustible energy provided by the gravitational, magnetic and seismic events and enormous residual geothermal heat of the Earth.
How did we – advanced civilization – miss this? Residing between two infinite energy aggregators, how did we end up with hydrocarbons – with the carbonized remains of passed life? How did we end up tapping just a thin upper lithosphere and keep obsessively digging and drilling for fossil fuels? How did we develop this necrophilic obsession? How did we manage to focus our human and economic development on carbons, and steadily develop the so-called ‘technologies’ that apparently take us right into a collision course with the universe and with everything that surrounds our biosphere? Why do we keep mankind enveloped in an exhausting competition and dangerous confrontation over a tiny, finite portion of fossilized carbons situated beneath the surface of our habitat? Finally, do we so live cosmos or chaos?!
How did things go wrong in the first place? Evolutionarily, our 2-million-year history as hunters-gatherers – exposed to stark scarcities, rival gangs of humans and other predators, permanent seasonal oscillations, harsh climatic and topographic conditions, constituting an integral part of the natural food-chain – has taught us to observe things sequentially, horizontally, territorially, and linearly. Not cognitively. That’s how we – through the primor-dial mechanical solidarity of an endangered, insecure herd – learned to prolong our existence at the expense of other living creatures, even turning their fossilized remains into fuel.
“Get your kicks on Route 66…”
Admittedly, the way we are developing and deploying the anthropotechniques indicates that we did not manage to depart significantly from the central pre-cognitive challenge which we humans share with all other planetary forms of life – survival. Our central cognitive question, a quest that should largely distinguish us from all other living forms: What am I doing here?, or How can I bridge my past, my presence, with my future? – remains largely unanswered. Our ‘developmental’ palliatives are corrosive, autistic, particularized, aggressive, reactive, incoherent and harming for this planet and its life. Rigid in a dynamic environment, we are still captivated by the horizontalities of our insecure existence, all which conditioned our lower laying brain foundations throughout our 2-million-year long hominid history.
Anthropology usually differentiates homo sapiens (as an early, primitive hominine/homo) from homo sapiens sapiens (advanced, modern man). By relating our species to its ability to extract and consume calories with the help of different anthropotechniques (presently called technologies), we may roughly divide the hominid’s evolution in the following way:
(i) 2 million years/100.000/50.000 – 10.000 years ago: a low-energy-consumption (conservative-solar techniques) driven human race;
(ii) 10.000 – 200 years ago: a medium-energy-consumption (hydraulic-agrarian, advanced-solar techniques) driven human race;
(iii) 200 years ago (the event of the so-called industrial revolution) – nowadays: high-energy-consumption (hydrocarbon techniques) driven human race.
Nevertheless, by observing the dynamics within the human culture and ability of such a civilization to maintain a natural equilibrium with the organic and inorganic surroundings, we can make the following classification of history of our race:
a) barbarians without technology (early humans) – no-to-moderate disturbance of the animalistic civilization, and then;
b) ‘mobilized/progressed’ barbarians with interfering ‘technology’ (the so-called modern men) – excessive disturbance of the acultural civilization.
The irreversible extraction of crude that we falsely call ‘production’ of ‘black gold’ is simply a fallacy of myopic, lethal addiction. The anthropotechnique which is exclusively fixated on tapping a tiny portion of the lithosphere in search of fossil remains – and then combusting those remains to convert them into our prime energy source (with loads of collateral waste), is a barbarism per se. It can only be marked as ‘technology’.
Yet, the scope, depth and endurance of our anti-intellectual limbic ignorance and reptilian greed is so fascinating, as it is our fixation with the locality, with the territorial animal inside of us. Homo lupus ergo sum. Our cerebral cortex (big, upper brain) is still a hostage of the reptilian (lower part of our) complex. It keeps us in a disastrous and obsessive captivity of the lower brain-determined, linear, instinctive reflex to acquire ever large possessions of resources on the given territory. This here-us-now matrix deprives us of any ability to enlarge the perspective and to grant it relief of the coherent, consciousness-based, cognitive time-space dimension.
Hence, no wonder that we are paying a heavy endpoint price while still singing the self-assuring lullaby: save the environment! It is simply a misstatement: the environment will survive, we will be eliminated.
“Oh, Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz…” – the Tao wisdom lost
That is how and where we set our obscure priorities: Ever perpetuated competition that keeps us in barbaric, reptilian confrontation over scarce resources. All this with the ‘technology’ which unstoppably emits greenhouse gasses, turning our earth into a planetary gas-chamber, on the way to a self-prepared global holocaust. Technology is not a state of arts (or science); technology is a state of mind! It is not a linear progression in mastering the natural science disciplines (alienating conservation), but rather acquiring a coherent cognitive and emphatic critical insight (liberating exploration). This ‘technology’ will turn into actual technology when –or better say– if our conscious, a self-actualizing, nonlinear, multidimensional and cluster-thinking capacitated upper brain finally takes a firm command over the reptilian, insecure, territorial, assertive, an eat-multiply-survive reflex/instinct-induced lower brain.
Following the outbreak of the still unsettled financial crisis, there is a growing anti-neoliberal sentiment. But, do not blame economy or (the dogmatic exegesis of) the credit institutions. It is yet another anthropotechnique enveloped in the human conscripts, in the codes of conducts devised on our long, indecisive and inconclusive evolutionary march. What is wrong is our perception, or better say the observer’s consideration spot, our cognitive departure point.
Why are we persistently projecting the circumstances that environmentally conditioned us two million years ago? Finite and depletable resources are something that our reptilian complex has gotten accustomed to in the lasting course of evolution. All our subsequent socio-economic fabrics, customs and normative orders, and politico-military constructs have been emotionally charged. Architectured around an emotional attachment, they have been the creation of a deep psychologization based on a fearful dependency over the horizontal and finite. We are the fear of scarcity– obsessed culture. Adequate social cohesion and mobilization as well as our overall comprehension of the infinite, renewable and inexhaustible, would require cognition. This –in turn– would mark an end of domination to the reptilian brain’s binary-mechanical and instinctively- imposed and maintained securitization and control.
So far, control itself remained the central solidifier of our civilizational vertical in managing the unpredictable and instable human (group or individual) dynamics. Fixation on finite resources and their consummation in controlled space and controlled time are the ties that bind the human culture – a social construct of psychologized securitization we conceive as comprehensible and permissible, therefore possible. Infinity eliminates the premium of control, and of mechanically-imposed and externally-induced coercive cohesion based on ever perpetuated competition and confrontation. An antidote to anxieties and seeds of fear, infinity eventually de-psychologizes and demonopolizes the reptilian command over our cognitivity.
Ergo, the grand mistake of our evolution is not an emergence of the cerebral cortex. Our cent-ral problem is that the upper brain has developed to service and aid the reptilian complex with anthropotechniques (to be enslaved by it), not vice versa. For such a new evolutionary arrival, admittedly our species developed fast– as (limbic drive is possessive and) the reptilian binary-instinctive brain is highly efficient. Though efficient, it is not as far-reaching! Thus, yesterday in Rio or Paris, as 45 years ago in Stockholm or 25 in the 1st Rio summit, we do face similar unsolvable dilemmas and grave, ever mounting, problems.
Nowadays, we seemingly understand the obstacle– limits to growth. However, our limit is not (solely) territorial or linear, it is substantively cognitive. Living in a limbo of our unfinished evolution and our own denial of it: We overused all life-contents around us that we plainly borrowed from the future past, while we overlook all the time what we do have (with us) in our past future. Simply, there is far more to learn about ourselves from our long unrecorded chapters of history then from the times we started to keep records.
“Tomorrow Never Dies”
In his famous speech of 1944, Max Planck spelled out something that philosophy, religion, astronomy and physics were indicating ever since the classic Greeks (or to be precise, since the ancient Vedic Sanskrit texts). It laid down the foundation, not only of quantum physics but also, of the so-called Unified Theory of Everything (TOE) as well as the (Coherent key to) Secrets of Creation. Moreover, it rejuvenated and reaffirmed many of the Buddhist Tantric perspectives, especially the metaphysical visions contained within the Yogacara, as well as one of paticcasamuppada – the so-called interdependent non-directional origination.
Hence, if one of the newest TOEs postulated by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow is correct – that the quantum universe, as a self-excited circuit, tends to create meaning and that the observers are part of the system – than the cosmos self-actualizes itself. It concludes that, as the universe evolves, enabling organization to emerge, our consciousness creates the universe/multiverse. If so, it leads to a self-actualization of us in cosmos too, as then the fundamental nature of reality should be a comprehensive and coherent self-perception.
This TOE would then suppose our constant mastering of arts, which is not a ‘technology’ that preserves status quo, but is a technology that opens, liberates and expands. How can the carbon–addicted culture of fragile and insecure, but here-us-now assertive and corrosive bipeds, whose overall dynamics are largely determined by the binary (fight-flight, consume-abandon) actions of the reptilian complex consciously project an intelligent universe predominantly composed of helium and hydrogen in all its immensity?
The answer is easier than it seems at first glance. It goes back to one of the most intriguing questions of both philosophy and astronomy: Is there any life out there?
Neither the very peripheral position of our solar system within the stellar cluster of the Milky Way, nor a remote place of our galaxy in the known cosmos would indicate any centrality, any exclusivity of and monopoly over conscious life to us. Ergo, if such a periphery can sustain a variety (constancy) of life forms and development of cognitive brains, then the rest of the universe must simply flourish in intelligent life – this is the only logical explanation.
While being everyone and having everything, all the rest of the immense cosmic intelligence self-actualizes and projects the solar equilibrium, a coherent helium-hydrogen-manifested and as such illuminated universe. It is simply waiting for us – to succeed or fail in departing from the self-imposed asymmetries, scarcities, convulsions, disharmonies and imbalances created by having fossilized fuel – in our attempt to return back to our pre-carbon, solar Tao future.
“If they say to you, ‘Where have you come from?’ Say to them, ‘We came from the [solar] light, the place where the light came into being of its own accord’” The beauty of this passage from the Gospel of Thomas is that it is equally accurate for both science and for spirituality.
Mankind will either combust itself to death or finally comprehend the inevitability of the obvious – of our cosmic being, as there is no having without being, and there is no being without or against universe. After all, there is no world of things without or on expenses of cosmos of life. This requires a resolute departure from the primordial hunter-gatherer attitude, and decisive deployment of our cognitivity. Chaos or cosmos – a simple choice.
Epilogue, not far away from Rio
“…Deep in the rainforests of the Amazon, the Achuar and the Huaorani Indians are assembled for their daily ritual. Every morning, each member of the tribe awakens before dawn, and once gathered together in that twilight hour, as the world explodes into light, they share their dreams. This is not simply an interesting pastime, an opportunity for storytelling: to the Achuar and the Huaorani, the dream is owned not by the dreamer alone, but collectively by the group, and the individual dreamer is simply the vessel the dream decided to borrow to have a conversation with the whole tribe.
The tribes view the dream as a map for their wakening hours. It is a forecaster of what is to come for all of them. In dreams they connect with their ancestors and the rest of the universe. The dream is what is real. It is their waking life that is a falsehood…” Wisdom is technique to wake up.
 Taken from Bosnian Chronicle by Ivo Andric, the 1961 winner of the Nobel Prize in literature.
 Initial line, hereby considerably adjusted and expanded by author, taken from Carl Sagan.
 For example, one of the eldest world dailies, Wiener Zeitung published since 1703, brings a cover page with the following title “In zwanzig Jahren sind wir alle Griechen” (In 20 years we will all be Greeks). WZ, 10 March 2012.
 Belief is confidence (promise of certainty), knowledge is evidence (probabilistic estimate of truth/insight into a coherent reality). Other word for religion is compliance; other word for science is doubt. Liberal, mesmerizing and attractive as it might be, “science is open-minded because it has no agenda”, as Mlodinow says. Enhancing good and avoiding evil is eternal inspiration for spirituality as well as the declared moral charge of any organized religion. Thus, it was maybe religion indeed that tranquilized, bonded and soul-deepened humanity in the course of centuries. Still, it was science and its approach to coherence of reality that steered up mankind towards a dwell of (applicable) knowledge previously unattainable by any other medium/means. Ergo, if pre-conscripted and canonized, that is never a science. It can only be a lame obedience.
 The innovative, pioneer work of prof. Veenhoven (from the Erasmus University of Rotterdam) on the World Database of Happiness is chronically underfunded ever since established in 1998, although representing an extraordinary and indispensible research of its kind. In his unique narrative of 1972, the 4th King of Bhutan (Jigme Singye Wangchuck) reaffirmed the centuries old national code of conduct: “if the government cannot create happiness (dekid) for its people, there is no purpose for the Government to exist”. Thus, the concept of the GNH (Gross National Happiness) is even embedded in the Bhutan’s constitution (Article 9) as an alternative to the generally practiced GDP. This fact is largely ignored by practitioners and academia. Seems, as if nobody in today’s world is interested in pursuit of happiness.
 Tao (Chinese 道; pinyin) literary means ‘The Path’. In the larger context of ancient Chinese thought, it catalyzed the LaoTze-an foundation of the later philosophical and religious/esoteric conscripts.
 Some 25 years ago, the value of overall global financial transactions was 12 times the entire world’s gross annual product. By the end of 2015, it was nearly 75 times as big. (Surely, noting of it is taxed.)
 E.g. There is not a single peer-reviewed international journal that has published even one scientific article in the last 30 years which reports on factual evidences that any organic (marine and continental 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 the 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. (To put aside the alarming studies on the severe impact of the so-called video media entertainment on the early neurological development of children and the overall mental and physical health of youth – as none of these games is either evolutionary or bio-neurologically justified for a proper development of the child’s cerebral cortex/neuroplasticity.) Hence, all the planetary systems are in retreat; drifting, decomposing, malfunctioning, rarefying, and vanishing. Instead of a resolute action to change our dangerous patterns, the only self-assuring comfort comes from our ignorance and anti-intellectual urge to escapism (by waiting for a while and then offering more of the same).
 Ancient Chinese Mandarin translates the word ‘cosmos’ as yuzhou (宇宙). Astonishingly precise, even for Einstein’s relativity, this literally means space–time (宇 yu – space & 宙 zhou – time). Indeed, observing skies above us is always both a space and a time travel. (Or to say; above us is a welkin of visualized time.) While the most of modern European languages use either Greek (cosmos) or Latin (universe) word, Southern Slavs have nearly esoteric term svemir (Russian вселенная): ‘omnipresent tranquility’ (sve – overall/total, mir – peace, harmony). Ergo, universe must be Uni-Verse = One Song/Tune.
 Taken from Stevie Wonder’s song: ‘You are the Sunshine of My Life’ (1973).
 Our cosmos is a finite but borderless everexpanding (non-linear) multiverse. It can be tentatively illustrated as something spherical, quite much as a surface of Earth that expands, plus 2-3 (non-areal) dimensions including the quantum one, too. Our universe/multiverse is relative in its contents (of histories and manifestations), and their constellations, but (to us) is absolute in its (space-time) omnipresence. Or, as Sagan beautifully concludes: ‘The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.’
 According to the WMO (World Meteorological Organization), the solar energy reaching the earth surface by far exceeds the global energy production of mankind – over 20,000 times. That means that our PEM (primary energy mix) has to provide us with the current amounts for 20,000 consecutive years to reach the scale of what solar radiation supplies us with annually, all for free!!
 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 – of the troposphere filled by the green-house gas emissions. Certainly, no other species on this planet are both biotrophic and necrotrophic, at the same time highly corrosive. Hence, the way we extract, produce, transport, distribute and consume, the way we keep all this running on a blind obedience to fossil hydrocarbons, and finally the way how we do reflect, contemplate and study on all that, inevitably takes us right into the environmental holocaust.
 It seems that the latest discoveries on the dynamics of property are indicating that the photosynthesis (a fundamental process of biology that creates life on the bottom of the food-chain. By capturing carbon dioxide, it supplies the upper echelons of this chain with a released oxygen and provides a carbon-hydrate caloric food) is powered by the quantum event. Consequently, a new discipline – quantum biology by words of Graham Fleming, a physical/biodynamics chemist – suggests ‘that the quantum mechanical effect might be the key to the ability of green plants, through photosynthesis, to almost instantly transfer stellar/solar energy from molecules in light harvesting complexes to molecules in electrochemical reaction centers.’ This simply means that electrons quantumly test out all available paths and ‘choose’ the most efficient one. It represents an almost conscious decision in which a quantum mechanical exploration is conducted, and then also quantum mechanically the most accurate pathway is selected to do the instant and highly efficient transfer.
 Taken from Nat Kings Cole’s song: ‘Route 66’(1946), written by Bobby Troup.
 In such a constellation the cerebral cortex is reduced to only service the territoriality of reptilian (lower) brains. Evolution-wise, humans are – like other mammals – social animals, but also territorial: An areal presence on certain territory, humans are historically linking to its very survival. Traditionally, it was not much of the cognitively-induced transcendent dimension – morality, but far more simply an instinctive fear of conflicting territorial claim of rivals, which kept humans from uncontrolled maximization of territorial (and any other) claim. These are the origins of our everlasting grand-fascinations with fences, borders, demarcation lines, exclusion zones, buffer belts, frontiers, boundaries and related sorts of divisions, particularizations, differentiations, sectarianism, gaps, cleavages and separations.
 The eldest layer of our brains structure, the so-called reptilian complex is a center of our instincts – reproduction and survival (something we share with most other animals). The limbic system – the second evolutionary arrival, according to neuroscience – is a center of emotions. The last to emerge, the upper brain – neocortex/cerebral cortex, by far the largest segment of our brains, is a center of our cognitivity, of reason. While emotions and reason are complex (therefore slow and sometimes inaccurate), the instincts are highly efficient, fast and accurate as they operate on the binary-code fight-or-flight principle without thinking and feeling or recalling previous experiences. It is therefore characterized as: cold and rigid, calculative and insecure, territorial and assertive, greedy and ignorant, hierarchical and opportunistic. Environmentally conditioned from its first formation days on, the Reptilian brain is efficient, but is not far-reaching! Driven by the grab-consume-run (fear-anger complex), it strikingly opposes cognitivity (exploration complex) – human autonomy, self-actualization, empathic solidarity, coherence, mastery, virtue and purpose – all of which are centered in cerebral cortex. (Put into the language of state organs: lower brain would be the armed forces – capacitated with the rapid response, and the upper brains would be a parliament – with the time consuming and tedious, consensual and multilayer procedures, but of far-reaching deliberations).
 As anthropotechniques, we should assume the (precognitive and) conscious clustering of different experiences, knowledges, discoveries, patents and the like; its practical application in any human activity (including all modes of horizontal and vertical transmission) aimed at acquiring resources for consumption in space and time by variety of tools and weaponry. As the only compensation for the biological and neurological limitations of humans (inferior to other forms of life on the planet), the anthropotechniques were answering the central pre-cognitive concern of humans: Survival! This is a self-coined definition that for years I use in my lectures on the Institutions and Instruments of Sustainable Development (chapter: Environmental ethics). As such, the definition is extensive enough to describe the event of first usage of the sharp stone/broken bone by early homo faber all the evolutionary way to the development and deployment of the nuclear bomb.
 If we observe the exponential growth in hydrocarbon consumption over the last 150 years, the very amplitude of the demographic growth will follow it with astonishing complementarity over the same period. The conclusion is interesting: past the industrial age, humans have become ‘grand alchemists’ (to use the expression of thinkers like David Suzuki and Wes Jackson), turning fossilized hydrocarbons into human biomass.
 The life of plants and animals converted by the geomorphologic action of earth (forces that are enabled by the cosmos, in general and the sun of our mono-stellar system, in particular) into oil-gas-coal has been possible ONLY due to a hydrogen-helium generated solar energy. Our fossil-carbon originated energy is only the carbon-sequestrated stellar energy stored in the past! Tapped, released and combusted today, seems as it punishes its colony of advanced bipeds – us, as parasites – with a lot of smoke. Looks actually like a message from our solar past sent to our solar future: if we eliminate the pre-Cambrian caloric intermediary between us and energy in our anti-solar presence, clear radiant skies full of sun will (re-) appear right above us. Maybe above said sounds esoteric, yet it is not a less accurate and authentic finding.
 Annotated from my recent writings, it states as following: “…the main problem with Green/Renewable (de-carbonized) energy is not the complexity, expense, or the lengthy time-line for fundamental technological breakthrough. The central issue is that it calls for a major geopolitical breakthrough. Oil and gas are convenient for monopolization (of extraction location and deployed machinery, as well as of international flows, of pricing and consumption modes) – it is a physical commodity of specific locality. Any green technology – not necessarily of particular location or currency – sooner or later will be de-monopolized, and thereby made available to most, if not to all… Ergo, oil (and gas) represents far more than energy. Petroleum…is a socio-economic, psychological, cultural, financial, security and politico-military construct, a phenomenon of civilization that architectures the world of controllable horizontalities which is currently known to, possible and permitted, therefore acceptable for us. (Geopolitics of Technology and the Hydrocarbon Status Quo /Why Kyoto Will Fail Again/, Geopolitics of Energy, 34 (1), CERI Canada 2012)
 Taken from Janis Joplin’s song: ‘Mercedes Benz’(1970).
 We are even celebrating this gas-chamber: note the title of the recently released annual energy report of the IEA (International Energy Agency): Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas… Golden Age of Gas! (For our global Auschwitz!) Seriously?
 Something that accelerates our disconnection with both oneself and the rest (be it aimless rushing, venerations of nullity, or diverting banalities of ads, ‘entertainment’, social media, ‘infotainment’ and other sorts of enormous noise), making us ever more alienated, insecure and self-destructive cannot be referred as a technology that serves the enhancement of mankind.
 Contextualizing a well-known argument of ‘defensive modernization’ of Fukuyama along with Kissinger’s ‘confrontational nostalgia’, it is to state that throughout the entire human history a technological drive was aimed to satisfy the security (and control) objective. It was rarely (if at all) driven by a desire to ease human existence or to enhance human emancipation and liberation of societies at large. Thus, unless operationalized by the system, both intellectualism (human autonomy, mastery and purpose), and technological breakthroughs were traditionally felt and perceived as a threat.
 No surprise that we are cannibalizing our future by sacrificing our youth (with massive unemployment, pollutions and other extended debts) to please the shadowy but omnipotent Credit Rating Agencies, while we have never contemplated creation of the Moral Rating Agency.
 Thus, self-imprisoned in fallacy of such a cosmic disharmony, we must look so pathetic by standing alone against the immensity of this omnipotent and ultrarich universe.
 The highly intriguing theory (supported by the extensive geological evidences including the bacteriological analysis of deep-laying hydrocarbons) about the abiotic nature of oil and its practically infinite recreation in the lower geological formations of earth was presented some 25 years ago. These findings were quickly dismissed, and the theory itself largely ignored and forgotten. The same happened with the highly elaborate plans of Nikola Tesla to exploit a natural geo-electrical phenomenon for the wireless transfers of high energy for free. Why? Infinity eliminates the premium of deeper psychologisation, as it does not necessitate any emotional attachment – something abundantly residing in nature cannot efficiently mobilize our present societies.
 Or, in the words of Prof. Murray Hunter: “…And this is the other fallacy that we have been deceived by. In our wonderment of this great technology that elevated humankind to the level of god, we missed the major ingredient that technology requires. Technology without “knowing” is useless, if not dangerous. Like little boys with new toys we have played with fireworks without thinking of the consequences. And yes we burnt our hands – so stupidly, without even ‘knowing’ it… Science and technology is really about making us see and we have failed to understand that. We have blindly used it along the singular paradigm that we think we understand…We need to admit that some things are beyond our instinctive and limbic capability.” (Opportunity, Strategy and Entrepreneurship–A Meta Theory, M.H. 2011)
 Consequently, the Euro-crisis or any other financial/debt crisis – for that matter – is only a construct of our mental projection as it is not founded anywhere in the deeper layers of reality. Linear insecurity- and uncertainty-focused as a solely horizontally perceiving, conflicting and interfering, scarcity securitization and control-obsessed, dependency-fixated culture cannot simply evolve into a liberating society or anything else coherent and harmonious. On the contrary, it will tend to deepen the existing and extend the projected confrontational horizontalities as it will maximize the psychologization of dependences. Cognitive mind (equilibrium/cosmos) vs. reptilian complex (balance of fear/chaos)! The very epilogue of the financial crisis seems to be only the redistribution of dependencies and enhanced control, not at all steering up the nations to a well-being, to a self-realization. If the elected democratic governments are reluctant to be instrumented to this end, Politbureau of the non-elected apparatchiks will eagerly finalize the unfinished. Therefore, we even interpret the very word ‘crisis’ falsely. This term has a dual meaning: ‘hardship’ (fear-anger) as well as ‘opportunity’ (exploration-liberation). Opportunity per definition will always challenge the established status quo, but that thought usually disfranchises, discourages and disengages us. Example? Since the reporting on the Greek/Euro sovereign debt crisis has started, how many words related to a change or opportunity have you heard (e.g. solidarity, creativity, initiative, job creation, action, broader consensus, vision, rethinking, bravery, dignity, self-respect, trust, virtue), and how many words related to a paralyzing status-quo (e.g. monetization, toxic assets, fiscal discipline, austerity measures, monetary control, budgetary straitjacket, debt instruments, general savings, conditionality strengthening, concerns intensified, budget cuts, downgrading, social haircut, withheld guaranties, massive default, tightening the financial screws, consumer confidence, record low, collapse prevention)? For a cognitive mind, a period of crisis is not the time to seed fear, to save, back off and wait, but to spend, to grant a freedom of initiative, to fully mobilize and largely engage fresh ideas and all other human resources. After all, one entity is in a decline when it reacts to the risks, far more than it acts on opportunities. This simple wisdom has nothing to do with the so-called economy; it is merely a question of perception. Finally, freedom will only surface when/ if the cognitive (coherent) mind retrieves it from the fundamental level of reality. That is why Q-physics (Buddhist or Tao wisdom) matters.
 Paraphrasing the title of the James Bond action movie of 1997, written by B.J. Feirstein and directed by R. Spottiswoode.
 “All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force…We must assume behind this force existence of a consciousness and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.” Max Planck, Das Wesen der Materie (The Nature of Matter), Florence, 1944. At about the same time our joy for the ‘defensive modernization’ peaked with the mastering of the atomic bomb: the nuclear (weapon) age. Deeper implications and meanings of the quantum mechanics, nuclear physics, bioelectric medicine or neurocybernetics’ research of ganzfeld, for our understanding of and our engagement with the process of reality (and selfhood), were disregarded, marginalized and nearly forgotten. And Plank himself was considered as Quantum mystic.
 One of the fundamental laws of quantum physics says that an event in the subatomic world exists in all possible states until the act of observing or measuring it “freezes” that, or pins it down, to a single state. This process is technically known as the collapse of the wave function, where wave function means the state of all possibilities. Hence, the subatomic world can behave either as particles (precise things with a set location in space) or waves (diffuse and unbounded regions of influence which can flow through and interfere with other waves). Therefore, of neither matter nor a place, quantum world is an event.
E.g. an electron is not a precise entity, but exists as a potential, a superposition, or sum, of all probabilities until we observe or measure it, at which point the electron freezes into a particular state. Once we are through looking or measuring, the electron dissolves back into the either of all possibilities. That means that reality must results from some elaborate interaction of consciousness with its environment. The confirmation comes from the past. Hebrews (the New Testament) 11:3 says: “What is seen was not made out of what is visible”. The XIII century Persia mystic Rumi looks like a pen-friend of Ludwig Boltzman. He seems as writing the letter to the father of astrophysics of the early XX century, when noting: “Look at these worlds spinning out of nothingness. That is within your power.”
 It’s absolutely astonishing that the ancient Sanskrit texts describe quantum vacuum and zero-point of the quantum field – by term sunya. This word should be interpreted as describing a cosmic seed of nothingness, which (hanging in a limbo of non-experience) is swollen by potentiality – an egg of infinite potentiality or shunyata on a brink to burst into a deep infinite-dimensional sea of manifestation/s. No wonder that the arithmetic sign for zero (that the rest of us took from Hindus) is actually an egg-shape, the same one called ‘origin’ in geometry to mark the center or beginning of a coordinate plane.
 Esoteric teachings of paticcasamuppada are considered a core of Buddhism. Applying the extensive philosophical interpretation to this teaching, it remarkably fits to the astrophysical theory of the so-called dependent (interpenetrating) origination. It also well supports basic laws of both quantum mechanics and evolutionary biology about a self-organizing system in an ever self-expanding, dynamic equilibrium which is rather dialectic than a directional.
 Sharing this anthropic viewpoint that the quantum wavefunction of the primordial meaningless universe stands on the very edge of time-space and meaning, and that the collapse of the wavefunction (an inception of cosmos) marks materialization of previously shapeless, non-experienced potentiality (that becomes possibility, an experienced classical event, by action of conscious-ness), Henry Stapp describes potentiality-consciousness as: ‘the two-way quantum psycho-physical bridge’. Conclusively, if we are to identify the meeting ground for the comprehensive and lasting reconciliation between science and religion, we must further investigate ‘Stapp’s bridge’. E.g. in mental(ly experienced) space, mind and matter move together as one.
 It would correspond to the Buddhist expression karma (usually misinterpreted in the West by reducing it to a lame moral conscript). The word karma has far more extensive meaning in Buddhism and should be understood as an (intractable) action which leaves an informational imprint in all deeper levels of realities which can be activated at some future point in time. Hence, this self-synthesizing universe paradigm of quantum physics fully corresponds with the Buddhist Yogacara assumption that all perceptions do leave traces which make future similar perceptions more probable/plausible – origins of the potentialities within the quantum realm. This is why mankind kept practicing a prayer.
 Vedas describes it as siddhis – psychic event (comes after profound meditative states) when the meditator experiences a feeling of omniscient knowing – a sense of seeing everywhere at once (a state of illuminating darkness, of superrich nothingness); or when the subject enters a state of unity with the single object being focused upon (sometimes followed by a psychokinetic effect: levitation or moving objects at a distance). In nearly every instance, the recipient eliminates the sensory bombardment of everyday and taps into a deep well of alert receptivity. Could it be that this art is like any other form of communication, but the noise of our everyday McFB life prevents us hearing it?
 Just one illustration that for our civilizational and/or developmental dead-ends, we do need cognitive mind to recognize it, not the ‘technology’ to ‘fix it’. For that sake, let us examine the so-called locomotoric engines (Otto’s ICE), which we use for transportation as well as for energy conversion/transfer. (We sow it first used by Chinese and Ottomans for guns and canons since they are in effect a one-cylinder internal combustion engines – ICE. Its military deployment we wanted to domesticate by using these destructive devices in a constructive way?!?) There is absolutely no need for any ICE’s fuels or combustion efficiency improvements. What is required is a new approach, new philosophy. And, it is to depart from the 150-years-in-use very harming explosive systems (unclosed circuits), and their replacement with a nature-coherent and nature-complimenting technology of implosive systems. Explosion sets chemo-electric, electro-magnetic and thermo-kinetic energy by the hydrocarbon’s combustion and the subsequent exhaustion of emission pressure, temperature and shock-waves to outside, while implosion just tackles available ionosphere’s energy charge (which is always a non-carbonic) into motion, or transmits it without losing or releasing any harmful substances. (No wonder that even today, the aborted development of e.g. anti-gravitational ship, flying disk, etc., we attribute to Aliens or classify as the UFOs.)
 It reads that the universe performs as the (mindful) intentional servomechanism of omnipresent instant transfers of force/information, which is immensely unified, yet at the same time infinitely diverse. (Or in other words; tones, frequencies and harmonies that compose a symphony of one universal /chemo-electrically charged/ energy ocean of consciousness in /a wave function/ motion in which distances and causality no longer exist.) Stepping closer to the Eastern philosophies of wholistic comprehension, it strikingly opposes the scientific (Newtown-Descartes-Darwin ‘Clockwork universe’) and the religious (dualistic, binary-code-like) picture that the West embedded in its institutions and determined actions in its long standing quest for global domination.
 Consciousness (including the time symmetry reversibility) – at its most basic level – is nothing else but a coherent light. That is why a stellar illumination, not only the solar energy, matters so much. We all and all in us swim in a sea of light.
 Taken from: Deepak Chopra, What makes Us Human? (2011).
 Those interested in numerology would come to an interesting numerical interpretation of the Summit Rio+20. Tentatively, it may follow: this time in Rio, it will be +20; 2 (dualism, binary-code, either-or) faces 0 (wholeness, an omnipotent egg-shape field of all potentialities).
 Quoted from Schlitz, M. (1998) On consciousness, causation, and evolution, Alternative Therapies 1998, Vol.4, No.6
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Raging Oceans, Dying Pollinators, And Then The Virus
Authors: Dr. Arshad M. Khan and Meena Miriam Yust
If the coronavirus is life-threatening, and almost all of the USA is in varying levels of lockdown, the speed of its arrival and impact should at least remind us of the fragility of life — not just for our own species but on the planet itself. Of course, Donald Trump disbanded the White House’s National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense. Set up after the Ebola scare, its job was to deal exactly with the type of threat we are facing; that is, to prepare for, lead and coordinate resources to deal quickly and effectively with the emergency — its absence is yet another reason for the White House’s lackluster response.
Then there is man-induced climate change. The Antarctic hit a record 64.9F (18.3C) last month surpassing the previous high of 63.5F (17.5C) set in 2015. Three days later on February 9th, the same measuring research station experienced an astounding 69.35F (20.75C) (livescience.com). Perhaps it is to be expected when we are pumping CO2 to record levels in the atmosphere. Current measurements are 413 ppm (Feb., 2020), a rise of 100ppm over 1950 figures (climate.nasa.gov/evidence/).
Global warming is also blamed for hot Australian summers and the deadly forest fires in South Australia fueled by drought and extreme heat. Most distressingly, these destroyed the entire habitats of several animal species and cost the lives of an estimated billion animals.
One bright note is a stand of conifers (the Wollemi Pine) dating back to the dinosaurs has been saved through the extraordinary efforts of firefighters who dropped water and flame retardant from airplanes into the single canyon where they exist. Millions of years ago, they were common across the ancient Gondwana supercontinent.
Greenland and Antarctica are now losing ice at a six-times faster rate than in the 1990s raising sea levels and threatening coastal areas. The rise of 17.8 mm since 1992 has been 60 percent due to Greenland and the rest to Antarctica (Nature, Dec 10, 2019). Scientists now expect an extra 17mm (6.7 inch) rise in sea levels above current projections by 2100, and massive flooding of coastal areas, already experiencing very early signs (Greenland and Antarctica Ice Melt — BBC). But that is small potatoes in comparison with the Denman Glacier in East Antarctica.
This massive glacier has retreated 5 km (about 3 miles) in the last 22 years reports a new study appearing in Geophysical Research Letters (Science Daily, March 23, 2020). From 1979 to 2017, it has lost a cumulative 268 billion tons. Of particular concern to researchers is the ground surface underneath which renders the glacier more susceptible to global-warming collapse. This vast ice sheet has the potential by itself to raise sea levels by 1.5 meters (5 feet).
While global warming is causing a speedup of many ocean currents, an anomaly is the consequence of Greenland ice melt reaching the Atlantic at the origins of the Gulf Stream current. Reducing salinity, it impacts its driver, namely, the sinking salt water (Science, Feb. 7, 2020, p.612) weakening the current — its beneficence accounting for the relatively benign winters in Britain and Ireland and extending as far north as Iceland, Norway and southern Sweden
At the same time, an analysis of data from the Argo array, some 4000 floats deployed across the globe to collect data, indicates an acceleration in currents, particularly in the tropics and the Southern Ocean (Science Advances, Feb 5, 2020). Global warming is the likely cause spurring ocean winds to speed currents, although proof awaits more data collection. A speed-up of currents and rising sea levels paints a picture of a rising, raging sea threatening coastal communities (National Geographic, Oct, 15, 2019) that have been popularized by developers in living memory.
The ecosystem is also threatened in other ways, particularly through the demise of pollinator species — on whom we, too, depend for our necessary crops. A recent paper (Science February 7, 2020, p.626) reports widespread decline in bumble bee populations in North America and Europe. Warming temperature is the likely culprit. A temperature rise beyond the tolerable limits for bumble bees necessitates migration, often to areas that had been too cold for them before but have warmed up now to be tolerable.
Unfortunately, the rate of extirpation has exceeded that of colonization causing widespread decline. The resulting consequences to plant species deprived of the ecosystem services of this pollinator are clearly unfavorable — if not disastrous — but have yet to be surveyed.
Meanwhile, wild bee species are in decline worldwide. A halving from an estimated 6700 species in the 1950s to a shocking 3400 in the 2010s was reported in Science News (January 22, 2020). While previous bee studies have addressed declining populations, the evidence collected had been limited to industrially developed Europe and North America. The significance of the new research is its global scope.
In Thailand, for example, the ground nesting bee, Megachili bicolor, is fast losing habitat to expanding urbanization and agriculture.
With more scientists entering the field, the total number of bees observed by them has increased as one would expect. But sadly, the number of species recorded keep plummeting on most continents. The exception has been Australia where bee species first rose from 300 to 500 in the 2000s. Then in the 2010s they fell back to 300. What was once seen as a trend only in advanced countries is now global, and thousands of species have become either very rare or extinct.
Bees and other insects like butterflies are vital in that they pollinate 75 percent of our most important crops. Now butterflies are also under threat. The monarchs in the US are the victims of herbicides like glyphosate, and global warming upsets their seasonal migration patterns. They are also losing habitat, the loss estimated at 165 million acres in the US reports the Center for Biological Diversity.
Of the two migratory populations of monarchs, the western population numbered 1.2 million in the 1990s and the eastern about a billion. These numbers have dropped drastically to a critical 30,000 in the west and 225 million in the east. Since 2018 when these winter counts were taken, the numbers in the west have declined further this year to a little over 29,000.
Now we have the coronavirus giving modern humans an intimate foretaste of their ecological vulnerability. As it is easily transmissible, the situation can turn quickly into an out-of-control pandemic. If it affects 70 percent, as an expert recently predicted (CBS News), of the world’s population of about 8 billion, it will infect 5.6 billion people. Assuming a 1 percent death rate, which is on the low side of recent estimates, it results in 56 million fatalities — not unlike WW2. The same figures applied to the US yield 2.3 million deaths.
One might be forgiven for wondering if it is not Mother Earth’s Gaian response to destructive human activity. Could it even be just the initial onslaught? Now that is a frightening thought.
Authors’ Note: An earlier version of this article appeared on Counterpunch.org
Writing a greener story in Asia and the Pacific
Rising economic prosperity and poverty reduction may not tell the whole story of progress in Asia and the Pacific. Telling signs in the natural world recount a narrative that is far from complete. This year has been particularly affected by the COVID-19 global health pandemic, with devastating impacts on our health and the economy. Yet, building on its achievements, the region must continue its drive towards a sustainable conclusion.
There have been promising developments as we turn the page to a critical Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The region is on track to achieve targets on eradicating income poverty. The prevalence of undernourishment has dropped from 17 per cent in 2000 to 11 per cent in 2017. The proportion of the population using basic sanitation services has increased from 48 per cent to almost 75 per cent since 2000.
Nonetheless, we will miss the mark on all 17 SDGs by 2030 unless we quicken the uneven pace across each subregion. The next chapters of progress we write must not only be faster, but also fight for higher quality of life and a healthy environment.
Most strikingly, there is a lack of progress on environmental goals across all subregions. Data from the 2020 edition of the Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report published by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific show that we are neither sustainably managing the rich, precious natural resources in our region nor taking adequate action to combat climate change. Myopic consumption practices have led to marine pollution and irreversible damage to ecosystems. Air pollution has clouded the skies, with the Asia-Pacific region emitting half the world’s greenhouse gas. Disasters are occurring with increasing frequency and intensity, hitting the most vulnerable the hardest.
The earth continues to warn us that human progress cannot come at the expense of environmental degradation. As we make gains, it is our responsibility to advocate for measures that protect the planet. To urgently improve waste management, increase resilience against natural disasters and adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change.
In addition to environmental considerations, advancements in the region’s GDP growth are also challenging us to expand normative thinking on poverty. Although the region is making good progress on SDG targets related to economic growth, one-dimensional assessments are no longer enough. Mounting evidence reveals that the region is likely to miss all measurable SDG targets related to other forms of poverty, hunger, gender equality and reduced inequalities. This means that our ambitions must be far-reaching and informed by the complex realities of multi-dimensional poverty.
Thankfully, countries in Asia and the Pacific have made resolute commitments to sprint toward the 2030 finish line. Momentum for the future has been established by substantial groundwork. Existing efforts have laid policy foundations for a more favorable outlook in areas like access to clean energy and education. Progress towards the SDGs is not a linear process, but there is an emerging basis for acceleration in the coming years.
By speeding up efforts, the region can balance its
fast-growing economy with prosperity for people and planet. The total capacity
of the region to produce renewable electricity has increased almost fivefold
since 2000, faster than any other region in the world. Many countries have
adopted clean and environmentally sound technologies to reduce the intensity of
carbon dioxide emissions from the manufacturing sector.
Recent trends also given hope for an acceleration of progress on several goals in the coming decade. Increases in labour productivity, access to quality education and resource flow for development all provide examples that the Asia-Pacific region has built a basis for acceleration in many targets.
While we have harmed the planet along the way, I believe we also have the power to reverse negative trends and fight for the environment, as it has provided for us. If the region doubles its concerted efforts, the future may be brighter for target areas where progress has been slow.
The extensive efforts required means we cannot do it alone. Uneven gains across subregions convey that cooperation is more important than ever. We must rally the region to collectively move toward an enduring vision of development that protects natural resources, particularly the ocean, and fights climate change. Listening to the data and supporting its availability will help create integrated policies fundamental to reversing negative trends. Revitalizing partnerships at all levels and across all stakeholders will enable us to implement them.
With decisive action, the region has the capacity to achieve a strong finish by 2030. During an unprecedented global health emergency and increasing economic uncertainty, let us not lose sight of the future. The determination and rich resources of the region can help us overcome COVID-19 and beyond. Together, we can write a story of Asia and the Pacific which is one of success for every aspect of nature and society.
Covid-19 crisis and Earth Hour: An opportunity to reflect on the deteriorating health of the planet
Earth Hour 2020 on Saturday 28 March presents a unique opportunity this year: shining a light on biodiversity loss and climate change during the coronavirus outbreak. All of us will be able to share our voices and concern for nature by observing Earth Hour from home – to ensure social distancing – turning off all non-essential lights at 8:30 p.m. By doing so, we draw attention to the climate and biodiversity crisis globally. Meantime, the coronavirus pandemic crisis which should keep most of us at home also offers a chance to reimagine our approaches to managing and valuing natural resources in the future.
In the past months, we all witnessed shocking news about the devastating fires in Australia and the Amazon, and these were just two of the most recent examples of the crisis we are facing. 2019 has been a critical and unprecedented year for nature as global carbon emissions reached unparalleled levels, the artic continued to melt, and global temperature rise set new records on every continent.
It is ironic to think, then, that nature and the new coronavirus pandemic are closely interconnected. Our voracious demand for crops, timber and other resources has led, and still leads to the degradation and destruction of entire landscapes, causing disruptions to natural ecosystems and loss of biodiversity. This encroachment into natural frontiers means that animal-human interactions now exist which did not previously, enabling pathogens formerly exclusive to animal species to jump to a new, unsuspecting, human host. It is now well understood that many emerging infectious diseases, such as the novel Covid-19, originate from animals. Habitat destruction further exacerbated by climate change and fuelled by economic growth is, therefore, providing the perfect opportunity for new disease emergence.
Likewise, scientists and others have long been alerting us to the climate crisis, and in particular, its need for a swift and effective response. A fundamental piece of the puzzle in that response is tackling deforestation and restoring forests.
Yet the climate emergency hasn’t received the same sort of urgent and immediate response which the new coronavirus emergency has. For instance, many of the world’s biggest brands are set to fail to meet their 2020 deforestation commitments, despite making clear their ambition for sustainable supply chains.
In stark parallel, we’ve been jolted into almost immediate action by continuous information flows about the coronavirus outbreak, with its effects on entire countries and their populations serving as a signal for action to governments and individuals, even if they themselves weren’t yet experiencing its effects.
When facing the new coronavirus crisis, everyone has a role to play – governments have had to quickly develop and implement new policies; many organisations have had to transition into remote ways of working; and individual actions have, more than ever before, been crucial for the wider public good, with individuals being forced to completely change their daily routines in an effort to protect those in high-risk groups.
It has been very encouraging to see how communities, industry and individuals have rallied together over the last weeks to support each other, focusing on the things that really matter in order to maintain some sense of order and joint ambition to tackle the crisis.
Perhaps the global system had reached breaking point, like a computer system overloading with processes running alongside each other without being able to connect and coordinate. Perhaps it was time to shut down and reboot. Whatever the reason, we should see this as a chance to rethink and reimagine our approaches to managing natural resources. How we interact. What really is of value to us. It is time to pause and reflect on how to be the best stewards for a healthy and resilient planet.
We all question what the long-term economic effects of the pandemic will be. Early analyses from China show a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. But will efforts to revive the global economy reverse this effect and accelerate the destruction of natural ecosystems – and in turn climate change – in a race to make up for the economic losses endured? Experts are warning that efforts to combat climate change could be jeopardised by compromising global investments in clean energy and weakening industry environmental goals such as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Clearly, it will be key for governments, industry and the private sector to enact green growth policies and realise the interconnectivity of human, economic and natural systems that determine planetary health.
We have all the necessary tools to help support our planets tenuous life support system which is untenably our own: to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and not just halt but reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss. So, let’s reimagine how society works, from human interaction to political and economic infrastructure, and from natural resource management and ecosystem protection to life on land.
As Landscape News reported recently: “Procrastination, short-termism and scientific denial are the hallmarks of our inaction on climate change – but the coronavirus provides an opportunity for us to kick those long-standing habits.”
As our life on land navigates an uncertain period, we must learn to replicate the same responses to Coronavirus to the climate emergency. This crisis must remind us of the delicate balance within the natural world so that we can turn this systemic threat into an opportunity to ensure our own wellbeing.
A version first published in Business Green 20 March
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