by Laercio Bruno Filho
The media always brings us information about global warming, dangerous gas emissions, exhaustion of natural resources, oil leakage, deforestation, armed conflicts. An upsetting scenario.
To preserve life with some dignity is a question of global interest and involves our future and the future of generations to come. However, questions related to sustainable development and land habitability, are more recent and less known or hardly ever approached as a subject by most people. And this should be different.
With the intention of encouraging the discussion and articulate the arguments needed to reflection, I introduce a theme which I find to be one of the most critic and complex themes when we talk about humanity and the ecosystems that grant its existence- the model of production and the way we consume it.
The current social economics model breakdown.
The current system results in a heavy political and socio-environmental responsibility. And it tends to get more serious in the long run, compromising the quality of life in the future.
The threat of breakdown of natural resources on account of the high and crescent demand for food and consumer goods connected to the deterioration of the trade relations between work and capital has resulted in a perverse enrichment of the minority, leading most to poverty.
That brought more distance between social classes and between nations. If we continue at this pace, the scenario will become aggravated.
On the climatic side, rivers are overflowing more frequently each time in Switzerland, Brazil, in the USA, in Germany and China. IPCC studies show that we are facing less “cold days” and more “hot days”. In the Arctic, the Andes mountain range and in central Europe, layers of ice and snow are melting.
On the economic one, English scientist Nicolas Stern reports in his study that, taking care of the climate on the planet would cost between 1 and 2 percent of the world’s GDP, but richer countries, the ones that pollute the most still hesitate in acting. The group of the “economically developed” is going through their worst financial crisis of the last 70 years, with high rates of unemployment. Countries are going bankrupt and they threat to bring good part of the Euro zone with them.
While we read this article, hundreds of people die from armed conflicts or from extreme poverty in Africa, Middle East and Asia.
Vectors that tend to evolve with no exception, for rich or poor countries.
Recent studies conducted by credited institutions show that, considering current consuming patterns from the world’s population today, we need 2.5 more planets Earth for it to handle its demand for food, leisure and comfort. We are talking about Ecologic Footprint, that’s how the indicator that shoes the effort of the planet to sustain current civilization is known for.
For us to have a better notion of the impact over the planet, it is interesting to observe that we took 300 thousand years to become 2.5 billion people in 1950. And since then until today, we raise our numbers and we are more than 6.7 billion human beings, consuming a lot of everything. So in only 60 years, the world’s population increased its numbers more than two times double and the consumption speed of those resources has also increased in a vertical leap.
The planet didn’t get warmer for nothing
Let’s consider that only a significant part of the world’s population, the one from the countries known as “emerging economies”, formed by chinese, indian, and Brazilians, wish, for example, to purchase a vehicle, a refrigerator, a microwave oven, a plane ticket, or even eat meat and fish. Desires, that are original and well deserved, which represent some consuming items and comfort in today’s average world.
Talking about the environmental consequences to support that demand in a singular way, this is what could happen.
• There would be a raise in the demand for fossil fuel. More extraction and refining to produce fuel to enable all logistics involved. Generated impact: a raise of the Greenhouse Gases (GEE) and Global Warming, contamination of the soil and hydric resources. Oil leakage happen during the extraction (BP: Gulf of Mexico) or storage (Petrobras/Baia da Guanabara-2000)
• Rise in the extraction of mineral for manufacturing of the steel needed to make the goods. Impact generated: soil degradation, silting of rivers and lakes, deforestation, they demand more energy and consequently more emission of greenhouse gases and other heavy pollutants into the atmosphere, rivers and oceans.
• The intensification of energy used for equipment operations in the production of durable and consuming goods. Impact generated: overload in the global temperature from the burning of fossil fuel and for the flooding of new areas, now forest areas, for the production of more hydrologic energy, increase in the toxic and nuclear residue.
• Rise of the demand in all raw material chain, workforce and secondary inputs for manufacturing, delivery logistics and usage of aggregate components like paper, plastic, steel. Impact generated: over exploration of natural resources and bigger exposal of the biomes to risk of exhaustion and extinction.
• Rise of the demand for food. Impact generated: Intensification of deforestation and degradation of the earth by the chain of agribusiness, exhaustion of the aquifers by inadequate methods of planting and irrigation. Just to mention a few of them.
However, for the exposal not to look just partial we have to consider that this is not only about a chain of destruction and a price that comes with it. There is also a parallel chain of construction and benefits and that allow us a comparative reflection about this relation.
Unfortunately this relation is marked by a profound unbalance, because the current socioeconomic regime, excluder, does not allow that most part of the population can use benefits like food, medication, technology and what is worse, those who can, spend a lot doing it.
In 2030 we will be 9 billion people on earth.
Is this the moment of a profound and extensive reevaluation needed from principles and current values, once the current civilization is getting close to the breakdown limit of its natural resources?
Most part of the borders to survival is already mapped. We already know what they are and where they are.
The most complex thing is what is left, to conceive which are going to be the new social environmental fundaments for an innovative global hegemony and which are going to be the viable economic paradigms for this new era.
How to conciliate the desires of a society that learned to worship the image of offer excess to a scenario of limitation and shortage in the future?
Kant and the Age of Enlightenment
The last great revolution of ideas that effectively changed the world was set in the first half of the 18th century with the Enlightenment, when there was a convergence of philosophic, social, political, intellectual and religious trends, resulting in a vast group of values and new structural and pragmatic principles that guided us until today.
We have become the evolution from that moment on and now we realize that we need another great era of transformation.
The great thinker Immanuel Kant defined: “The socio-environmental responsibilityrepresents the escape of human beings from the guardianship that they had imposed to themselves. The tutored are those who find themselves incapable of using reason regardless of the direction of others, and if guilty of their own guardianship, when it result not from a difficulty of knowledge but from the lack of resolution and courage to make use of this knowledge regardless of the direction of others. Sapere aude! Be courageous to use your own reason! – That is the motto of the Age of Enlightenment.”
And that is what we need.
Laércio Bruno Filho
Professor invited by MBA PECEGE from ESALQ/USP for the discipline of Agribusiness.
Coordinator and Relator for the Group of Studies of Carbon in Forests in the realm of the Volunteer Market at FIESP/ABNT, Member of the Group for Studies on Sustainability at CETEL/Business School São Paulo and Member of the Group for Studies on Ethics and Sustainability at CRA-SP.
Director of New Social Environmental Businesses and Coordinator of the Organizational Sustainability Program Management Technique and Coordinator of Sustainable Development for the Communities at eSENSE Company.