By Leonardo Boff Theologian-Philosopher
On September 27th the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change, IPCC, consisting of a few hundred scientists, gathered in Stockholm, Sweden, to evaluate the level of global warming, and they shared with us some worrisome data: «the concentrations of carbon dioxide, (CO2), methane, (CH4), and nitrous oxide, (N2O), primarily responsible for global warming, now considerably surpass the highest concentrations registered in ice nuclei during the last 800,000 years». It is 95% certain that human activity has contributed to this warming. Between 1951 and 2010, the temperature rose between 0.5°C and 1.3°C, and in some places it has already risen by 2°C. The predictions for Brazil are not good: starting in 2050, we could have a permanent summer: all year round.
This temperature could have devastating effects on many eco systems, and on children and the elderly. The IPCC scientists issued a passionate call to the people, to initiate immediate action on a global level, in terms of production and consumption, that might reverse this process and reduce its harmful effects. As Swiss Thomas Stocker, one of the coordinators of the final report said: «The most important question is not where are we now, but where we will be in 10, 15 or 30 years. And that depends on what we do today».
It appears that little or nothing is being done in a measurable and global form. The economic interests in unlimited accumulation, at the expense of depleting the natural goods and services, trump any concern for the future of life and the integrity of the Earth.
After reading the 31 pages of that report, one is left with the fundamental perception that we live in a world order that is systematically destroying the capacity of the planet to sustain life. We relate with nature and with the Earth as a whole in an ecocidal andgeocidal manner. If we continue in this direction, we will surely meet an ecosocial tragedy.
The purpose of numerous groups, movements and activists is centered on identifying new forms of living, so that we may guarantee life in her great diversity and live in harmony with the Earth, the community of life, and the cosmos.
In a book that required more than 10 years of intensive research, Canadian Marcos Hathaway, an educator, expert in modern cosmology, and myself, tried to present a careful reflection that would include contributions of both East and West, seeking a direction viable for all. The book is: “The Tao of Liberation: Exploring the Ecology of Transformation” (Voces 2012). Fritjof Capra wrote a fine prologue, and the Northamerican scientific community has welcomed the English edition: in 2010, the Nautilus Institute awarded us the gold medal for Science and Cosmology.
Our research starts with the following observation: there is an acute pathology inherent in the system that presently dominates and exploits the world: poverty, social inequality, exhaustion of Earth’s resources, and a strong disequilibrium of the life-system. The same forces and ideologies that exploit and exclude the poor are also devastating the entire community of life, and undermining the ecological bases that sustain planet Earth.
To overcome this tragic situation we are called upon, in a very real manner, to re-invent ourselves as a species. To that end we need wisdom, to lead us to a profound personal liberation/transformation, from masters of all things, to brothers and sisters of everything. That transformation also implies a collective liberation/reinvention through a different ecological format, that stimulates us to respect and to live according to the rhythms of nature. We must know what to take from her for our collective survival, and how to learn from her, because she is systemically structured in networks of intro-retro-relations that assure cooperation and solidarity of all with all, and that provide sustainability for life in all its forms, especially human life. Without our cooperation/solidarity with nature and other human beings, we will not find an efficacious solution.
Without a spiritual revolution (not necessarily religious) that involves a different way of thinking (a new vision) and a new heart (a new sensibility), we will search in vain for purely scientific and technical solutions. These are indispensable, but they must be integrated within a different framework of principles and values that are the basis for a new paradigm of civilization.
All this lies within the potentialities of the cosmogenic process, and also within human possibilities. It is important to believe in such realities. Without human faith and hope, we cannot build an arc that will save us all.