International cooperation will be crucial if humanity is to survive the ecological crisis
Towards a New Paradigm
January 31st, 2013
by James Parker
James Parker argues that in order to avoid exacerbating the global issues that Earth and its inhabitants face we must shift from state-centric and anthropocentric thinking towards true Global Governance.
Our species is in the middle of a governance crisis
When Galileo Galilei claimed that the earth revolved around the sun instead of celestial subjects revolving around the earth it broke away from conventional knowledge.
This eventually led to a new level of understanding and cooperation.
Human centric laws encourage people to ‘believe’ the myth that we are separate from our environment and thus ‘conquering’ technology continues to develop; which attempts to create a civilisation independent from nature.
If Global Governance was encouraged then people would regard themselves as part of the globe and recognise their dependence on the ecosystem and therefore more collaborative types of eco-technology would develop.
We need international laws that develop earth centered strategies in order to develop eco-technology as a means of social - economic responsibility and international security.
It is apparent that a growing human population and self-centred world economy have increased the pressure on our ecosystem. The agricultural land, climate, forests, coastal areas, lakes and oceans have all shown signs of excessive strain and ill-treatment.
Some have argued that humanity is far away from environmental constraints but evidence overwhelmingly shows that the environmental capacity to support us is already being exceeded.
The simple truth is that a far ‘greater’ level of international cooperation is needed if humanity is going to survive this crisis. The problem lies in each country’s pursuit of its own interest’s to gain comparative advantage over other states.
This is achieved by a total commitment to economic growth based on the production, utilisation and consumption of natural resources. In that it is argued that by destroying the rain forest within a territory it would lead to a ‘comparative advantage’ by raising exports and therefore gaining short term economic growth.
However this would lead to long term unsustainable economic growth since the rain forest essentially keeps the ecosystem in balance and thus the ecosystem is the foundation of economic growth.
The Industrial Revolution defined the competitive nature of the nation state and sovereignty creating classical liberalism. However at the same time it changed the relationship between humanity and nature (developed during the Enlightenment philosophy from Hegel, Descartes and John Stuart Mill) where human activities were seen as separate from nature.
While the perceived idea of separation between humanity and nature led to advancements in certain areas, such as global ‘human’ communications and the expansion of urban infrastructure; in the long term however, this unconscious delusion hasn't allowed the basic ecological conditions of life to continue to thrive on earth because it is enclosed within national interests.
As the Environmental Lawyer Cormac Cullinan stated:
“Our species has a major governance crisis, and far-reaching changes in how we regulate human behaviour are essential for the sake of the Earth and all its inhabitants. A good starting point would be to recognise that our governance systems are still based on the philosophies of Descartes, Bacon and Newton.
They saw the universe as a complex machine that we could understand by dissecting and analysing its component parts. Allied to this was the conviction that humans are the rightful owners and masters of this universe of objects, with a right to use it for the exclusive benefit of the human species.
This world-view created a barrier between humans and ‘nature’. It also led us into the dangerous delusion that we can disengage ourselves from the fate of the planet and live happily in a human world in which technology can provide all we desire, instead of the Earth providing all we need.”
The industrialized countries developed their economies over the past 150 years in part by treating the atmosphere and natural resources as free and unlimited and therefore unconsciously generating the great quantities of GHGs. We have since become conscious of this process and have become more aware of our interconnectedness with nature through quantum physics, ecology, global communication, and holistic understanding.
Therefore we need to act more intelligently and responsibly and need to transcend the dysfunctional and out dated modes of production that are now endangering the planet.
As the Philosopher Thomas Berry stated:
“Our ethical traditions know how to deal with suicide, homicide and even genocide; but these traditions collapse entirely when confronted with biocide, the extinction of the vulnerable life systems of the Earth, and geocide, the devastation of the Earth itself.”
James Parker is a London based Political and Legal Analyst who specialises in international relations. He is a Trustee and Political Liaison Coordinator for the Simultaneous Policy UK (Simpol UK).
Image courtesy of www.shutterstock.com
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