At least for the last 2 centuries, the attitude of people towards nature has been predominantly hostile. As "freaks of nature", as Erich Fromm cataloged us in his book "To have or to be?”, in an attempt to solve our existential problems we ended up conquering nature, transforming it according to our purposes, thus directly contributing to its destruction. Paradoxically, although the strongest of human instincts is that of survival, we are not motivated enough to be, think and act differently, i.e. sustainably and environmentally friendly.
Currently only a minority of 15 – 20% of the world's population, mainly in rich countries, account for about 80 percent of the total consumption of global resources. The 500 largest private companies have an economic and political power that no king, no emperor, no pope has ever had on this planet. They have established a world dictatorship stronger than any state. How else, that despite all the promises made in Paris in 2015, the five largest producers are recording a 28% increase in emissions from fossil fuel consumption.
Biodiversity is declining at the fastest rate in human history, with up to a million species of animals and plants now on the verge of extinction, over 3 billion people suffering from degraded soils, and another 28,000 people dying from polluted air. When we shop we make short-term decisions, guided only by personal preferences and advantages, less the more than 2 billion tons of waste deposited in landfills and another 8 million tons of plastic materials that end up directly in the ocean. And what comes next is even more alarming, with up to 10 billion global inhabitants in 2060, under unprecedented ecological limits.
If we take a look back in time, starting with the Stockholm Conference (1972), the Brundtland Report (1987), the Rio de Janeiro Conference (1992, 2012), the Johannesburg Summit (2002), the Conference of Brussels (2007), the Copenhagen Conference (2009), the Paris Conference (2015) and most recently the UN General Assembly, New York (2019), it would seem that environmental issues are a priority for world leaders and that they are apparently taken the necessary measures to stabilize the ecological deficit. In fact, these leaders claim to be taking many concrete and effective actions to avert a catastrophe: endless conferences, resolutions, disarmament talks, all give the impression that the problems are recognized and that steps are being taken to solve them. However for at least the last 25 years, nothing really important has been happening. The truth is that "those who lead and those who are led anesthetize their conscience and their will to survive by giving the impression that they know the way and that they are heading in the right direction", after Erich Fromm.
The truth and the power to change the trajectory of excessive and destructive consumerism on the environment is in the hands of the more than 7,000,000 people in 185 countries who voiced their concern and mobilized this year to stop the consequences of climate change, many thousands more and millions, who annually rid the Earth of waste, environmental volunteers and those who "revolt" against extinction.
A symbol of this movement is Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish teenager, who "reprimanded" world leaders for the lack of action in the face of climate change, at the UN summit in New York. The young environmental activist gave a speech that went around the world, bringing a vital issue back to public attention "How dare you!?" For more than 30 years, science has provided clear evidence. How dare you pretend you don't see and come here and say you've taken enough action when the necessary policies and solutions are nowhere to be seen?!”
I like to think that long ago we stopped "being" and are entirely concerned with "having". Is it enough to bet on the idea that someone is taking the necessary steps to overcome ecological collapse? Definitely NOT, especially when in reality we don't have concrete measures and tangible results even at the global level, even more so at the national level.
We can only hope that Greta Thunberg's example and perseverance will inspire and motivate young environmental activists from the Republic of Moldova. As for those who lead, "Stop giving the impression that the necessary measures are being taken. We don't have that much time to allow you to write laws and plan actions for years. He's the type to take your commitments one at a time and translate them into concrete actions."
Editorial, "Waste Management" magazine, no. 23/2019