Looking for a New World
The planet is in danger. Many are the reasons, but what is worrisome, yet simultaneously brings hope, is that the root of all those reasons is first and foremost human behavior. That means we are responsible for the damage and we have the chance to take care of its potential reparation.
We are involved in a paradigm of development absorbed by neoliberalism in which economic growth has become an end in itself with priority over the wellbeing of humans and nature. That paradigm has profoundly changed social, political and economic systems. Values became entrenched that are based on the importance of personal success over the common good, and a market that creates needs has been fostered to increase consumption and therefore the production of goods and services in a planet that is ecologically “in the red.”
In 2016 the ecological footprint of the planet was 1.6, i.e., 1.6 planets Earth are needed to satisfy humanity’s demand for the goods of nature, such as lumber, arable land, fish and water, among so many others. This overexploitation of resources is precisely what is changing how ecosystems work and it is destroying the habitats of biodiversity, which has a direct impact on the ecosystem services that nature provides to humans, such as pollination, the nutrient cycle and erosion control, among so many others. In parallel, there is an unquestionable biodiversity crisis. According to the Living Planet Index (LPI), from 1970 to 2012, human activity has caused a loss of more than one-half of the planet’s biodiversity. The number of vertebrates inhabiting the Earth has fallen 58% and this figure will increase—in a business-as-usual scenario—to 67% by the year 2020.
On the other hand, lies the global warming phenomenon. Scientific evidence of man’s responsibility for climate change is backed by independent scientists in different fields whose studies have yielded very similar results using different methods. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is 95% certain that human activity is currently the main cause behind global warming because of the high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the use of fossil fuels, from deforestation and the like to produce goods and services incessantly. It is not by chance that 40% of the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere—the main GHG responsible for climate change—is since the pre-industrial era, while the temperature of the Earth’s ground and ocean surfaces has risen 0.85ºC in the period 1880-2012.
The impacts of climate change are devastating, both on a human and environmental level. The melting of inland ice, the increase in sea level, change in precipitation, droughts, a rise in climate variability and in extreme weather phenomena, just to name a few, are consequences that substantially change the natural habitat of species, forcing them to migrate or simply causing their extinction. Is it not, therefore, fairly obvious that we ourselves are robbing the rest of the living beings on Earth? Of THEIR Earth …
These phenomena also have direct repercussions on human rights, such as the right to food, water, health and life, and they have a greater impact in less developed countries even though those countries contribute the least to global warming.
Today we CAN do something, and what creates concern is choosing to ignore this ecological “overdraft,” turning a deaf ear and faking near-sightedness when faced with the clear warnings from nature itself. Can we continue to fell trees, fish more fishes or issue more GHGs than what the oceans and trees can absorb? We can stay on that path, but … at what cost?
One of the answers to globalization is the defense of local traditions and culture, which is also key to conserving our roots, our history and, of course, a pride in our identity. However, like not all imported culture is bad, not all traditions are one hundred percent right, such as, for example, the practice of clearing fields by fire, so common in our Chilean Patagonia. A great need therefore arises in all who work in the territory to comprehend it as a whole, but address it methodologically from several perspectives: using knowledge acquired from ancient times to the present, from a philosophical standpoint, from the different branches of science, including health, geography, economics, politics, communications and even the value and use of social networks.
At Geute, which means “Earth” in Tehuelche, we are betting on the construction of a new world. We are working to contribute to implanting a new paradigm of development, one that is more humane and less technocratic, that recognizes the intrinsic values of nature. A paradigm that prioritizes creating social and environmental benefits instead of always trying to maximize profits. We want to put a stop to this obsession with perpetual growth that promotes material consumption in which the resources in nature must be “used” to satisfy human needs, many of them solely ambition.
We have created spaces for reflection to help implant an economic model that is designed for the common good, based on the thought and understanding of the human race and the environment, of human relations, of how we must change our way of life in harmony with what we believe and with the natural world.
We must understand that we are literally part of natural cycles, such as carbon, in which the CO2 we emit is absorbed by plants, which then emit the O2 that we need to survive.
We have also designed projects that promote the legal defense of ecosystems and communities impacted by large-scale investment projects, mainly in the energy, mining and salmon-farming sectors, complemented by initiatives for the ecological restoration of the habitats of emblematic species and of the country’s Protected Wilderness Areas. The aim is not just to stop the extinction of species, but also to increase vulnerable or endangered populations so that they are no longer in those categories, like what has occurred with the panda bear.
Today we have a marvelous opportunity—and responsibility—to be active participants in solving this world problem that we ourselves have caused. A consumer society, hedonism and individualism are ideas that we must eradicate from our society.