Threats to Mother Earth and how to confront them
There are four threats that our Common Home faces, and which demand from us our special attention.
The first is how in modern times the Earth is viewed as an object of ruthless exploitation, seeking only the greatest profits, without regard to life or purpose. This vision, that has brought undeniable benefits, has also created a dis-equilibrium in all the ecosystems, which has caused the present generalized ecological crisis. With that vision entire nations were destroyed, as in Latin America, where the Atlantic jungles, and, in part, the Amazon rain forests, have been devastated.
In January 2015, 18 scientists published in the well known magazine Science, a study on “The planetary limits: a guide for a human development on a planet in mutation”. They enumerated 9 fundamental aspects for the continuity of life. Among them were climate equilibrium, maintenance of bio-diversity, preservation of the ozone layer, and control of acidity of the oceans. All of these aspects are in a state of decline. But two, that they call the “fundamental limits”, are the most degraded: through climate change and the extinction of species. The breakdown of these two fundamental frontiers can cause the collapse of our civilization.
In this context, to care for the Earth means that to the conquest paradigm, that devastates nature, we must oppose the paradigm of caring, that protects nature. The paradigm of caring cures old wounds and prevents future wounds. Caring leads us to live in harmony with all the other beings and to respect the rhythms of nature. We must produce what we need to live, but carefully, within the tolerable limits of each region and the riches of each ecosystem.
The second threat is the death machine of weapons of mass destruction: chemical, biological and nuclear. These weapons already exist. They can destroy all life on the planet in 25 different ways. Since security is never absolute, we have to be careful that these weapons are not used in war, and that their security mechanisms are ever more secure.
To this threat we must oppose a culture of peace, of respect for the rights of life, nature and of Mother Earth, openness and dialogue between the peoples. Instead of win-lose, to live a win-win paradigm, seeking convergence of diversities. This means creating equilibrium and generating caring.
The third threat is the lack of drinking water. Of all the water on Earth only 3% is potable water, the rest is salt water. Of that 3%, 70% goes to agriculture, 20% to industry and only 10% is for human use. It is a ridiculous share, which explains the fact that more than a billion people live without sufficient potable water.
We must care for the Earth’s water, and for the forrests and the jungles, because they are the natural protectors of all the waters. To care for the water demands ensuring that the sources are surrounded by trees and that all rivers have vegetation on their banks, because this vegetation nourishes the sources. More than half of the rain forrests have been destroyed, altering the weather, drying up rivers or diminishing the waters in the aquifers.
The best we can do is reforestation.
The fourth great threat is the increasing warming of the Earth. It is a property of the geophysics of the planet that it experiences alternating cold and warm phases. But this natural rhythm has been altered by excessive human intervention in all aspects of nature and the Earth. Carbon dioxide, methane and other gases of the industrial process have created a cloud that surrounds the Earth and retains the warmth here below. We are nearing an increase of 2 degrees centigrade. Life cycles could barely function at this level.
The Paris COP21 at the end of 2015 created a consensus among 192 countries to do everything possible not to reach 2 degrees centigrade, and to try for 1.5 degrees centigrade, the level of pre-industrial society. If we exceed this level, the human species will be dangerously threatened.
Not without reason scientist have created a new name for our times: the anthropocene. This represents a new geologic era, in which the greatest threat to life, the true Satan of the Earth, is the human being itself, with its irresponsibility and lack of caring.
Others posit the hypothesis under which Mother Earth would not want us to live in her home anymore and would search for a way to eliminate us, either through an ecological disaster of apocalyptic proportions or through a very powerful and invincible super bacteria, thus allowing that the other species no longer feel threatened by us and may continue with the process of evolution.
Against global warming we must seek alternative sources of energy, such as solar energy and wind power, because fossil fuel, oil, the motor of our industrial civilization, produces large quantities of carbon dioxide. We must put into practice the various “Rs” of the Earthcharter: reduce, reuse and recycle, reforest, respect and reject the consumerist call.
Everything that may contaminate the air must be avoided, so as to slow global warming.
Leonardo Boff, Theologian-Philosopher,Earthcharter Commission
Free translation from the Spanish sent by
Melina Alfaro, email@example.com.
Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.