Cultivating a Green Conscience
This week we reflect on Brazilian president Bolsonaro’s war on the Amazon—yet another climate catastrophe in the making—and this brilliant deep dive from The Intercept, which details the plight of the myriad Indigenous communities that are seeing their ancestral home destroyed by bulldozers and intentional forest fires. What lessons can we draw from their approach to nature?
“The Indigenous understood the connections between these fragile systems before we did. … Before anyone was talking about climate change, they were trying to warn us.”
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Our response to the news
Many commentators now believe the key to solving the climate crisis can be found by studying the rites and rituals of pre-modern and indigenous communities across the world. By recognizing the agency of non-human entities such as animals and plants, as many ancient communities did, we can overcome the (false) dichotomy between culture and nature and start governing our planet according to laws that aren’t just centred around Men, but around Life. Because clearly one cannot exist without the other.
In other words, we cannot solve climate change if we become less anthropocentric and stop seeing ourselves as the center of the universe. One avenue could be legal. In a 1972 paper titled “Should Trees Have Standing?” Christopher D. Stone proposes that if corporations are assigned rights, so should natural objects such as trees. He argues that the adoption of plant rights should be the next logical step after man’s moral and legal advancement in such areas as children’s rights, gender equality, freedom of speech and religion, and so forth.
Still, large parts of the modern world have completely forgotten how to have the delicate give-and-take relationship between nature and man. So beyond climate conferences, carbon emissions targets and Greta Thunberg-inspired street protests, how does our mindset need to shift to tackle global warming?
Here are three articles from our “Green Continent” series that treat climate change from a human angle.
Our editor Kyrill Hartog, questioned the possibility of humans sharing their political power with animals, plants, technology and things to cultivate an atmosphere of empathy and understanding, in his article "The Parliament of Things."
Jack Hedger wrote about the importance of encouraging people to explore national parks, so that they could experience the unique and precious realms of nature.
Becky Howarth bid adieu to plastic. She wrote, “Once we begin to change ourselves, we must then make a loud noise about excessive, nonsensical and/or hypocritical use of plastic to wake up the ears of those who write our laws, those who package our products and those who toss items in their trolleys with minds elsewhere.”
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