Back to environmentalism

Back to environmentalism

By Gonzalo Palomino Ortiz

Historians will remember this as the time when, finally, we began to understand that the planet we know was in danger ... and not because of a hypothetical situation, such as an eventual nuclear war, but because of the consumption of coal, oil and gas, of which depends most of our activities.

This starts with food

We ... permanent militants of romantic ecology have been damaging our hearts .... We no longer believe that this pod can be fixed ... there are many indicators that we are walking at a rapid pace towards the threshold. For example, that of the pantsuit Bill Clinton who insisted that everything on the planet was reduced to the slogan chosen for his campaign: "It's the economy, idiot."

But simultaneously, we continue to believe that there are alternatives, possible solutions…. As we are admirers of the work of Manos de Mujer, in Coyaima, Colombia, where 2,200 women are doing organic farming for the pot ... we will cite the experience of Bill McKibben - essayist, environmentalist and author of the successful book El Fin de la Naturaleza - in his excellent essay published in the National Geografic magazine of August 2006, with the title of Intense Green, with the intention of sucking the cock to the apocalyptic threat ... the article should be a document of prayer in all churches and environmental groups .... The author is a militant and asks for more militancy in that doctrine called environmentalism.

Red indicators

The scientific support of Dr. McKibben are conclusions of profound observations that cannot be ignored.

** The increase in the frequency and strength of hurricanes.

** Arctic sea ice is irreversibly melting.

** The permafrost (frozen ground) that melted in northeastern Siberia produced so much methane that the lakes did not freeze even during the coldest boreal winter season.

** 2005 was the hottest year on record.

** We have too much carbon dioxide. British scientist James Lovelock published an essay in which he points out that we have already released too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and predicts that extreme and irreversible global warming is inevitable. Lovelock predicted that billions of people will die in this century.

** And the climate trend, according to James Hansen, a climatologist with a long career at NASA, who challenged the federal government's attempts to silence it ..., and based on the new calculations about the instability of the Greenland glacial shelf ... told the press on the severity of climate change: "We cannot allow the trend of climate change to continue like this for another 10 years.… this will cause a build-up of carbon dioxide resulting in a practically different planet."

And we only have ten years left.

Based on those indicators, of urgent truths, Bill McKibben insists that we have less than 10 years to reverse the damage caused. And that it is not about what our children or our grandchildren will have to live through. It is what we have to live.

Historians will remember this as the time when, finally, we began to understand that the planet we know was in danger ... and not because of a hypothetical situation, such as an eventual nuclear war, but because of the consumption of coal, oil and gas, of which depends most of our activities. This is a first. Human beings have never before faced something that threatens all of modern society. Whether we succeed or not depends, I think, on what happens with the doctrine we call environmentalism.

Another path is necessary

Based on these indicators and others from his harvest, he draws up optimistic management plans oriented towards a profound change in the daily activities of his country and gives us personal experiences and an invitation to the gringos to leave the hypermarkets and return to take refuge in the nature, in its agriculture and sharing existence with the peasants.

Give up the addiction to hypermarkets

"Last winter, Bill McKibbe records, I made it a point to survive the coldest months in the North Valley of the United States on just the food produced by the county where I live. And not only did I survive, I had a great time. There was plenty of food. potatoes, onions, beets, meat, cider, beer, wheat, eggs and enough canned tomatoes to get by. I'm sure I saved a ton of energy. I bought my food at the produce market instead of going to the nearest grocery store. It took me longer, of course, but I can count by the dozens the friends I made - this was the biggest gain of the whole experiment.

"I am not the only one who thinks this way. In the United States, the number of markets for agricultural products has doubled over the last decade. Sales are increasing at least 10 percent every year: It is one of the fastest growing segments in the sector. On a Saturday in Madison, Wisconsin, 18,000 people buy produce on the streets around the city hall. In Burlington, Vermouth's largest city, about seven percent of the fresh food eaten by locals Inhabitants cultivate on just 40 hectares of communal farmland, close to the city's old garbage dump. Some have yuppie clients. Others low-income. All bring people together.

"You can also reorganize many aspects of your daily life in this way: transportation, housing or even electricity."

Rearrange daily life

"For this to happen, we need to change from today and conceive our habits and rules of life differently. We have to modify our needs and the things we want, not from a sense of idealism or asceticism, but from a pragmatic sense.

"For example, Americans import food from far away. Since it is always summer somewhere, they have become accustomed to a food system that provides them with fresh fruits and vegetables 365 days a year, the energy cost of which is enormous: Grow and transport a single calorie of lettuce from California to the East Coast of the United States requires 36 calories of energy What does it take to get them back to eating local produce, accepting what the seasons of the year and local farmers have to offer?

"Let's also think about the houses Americans are building now. They are more than twice the size they were in 1950, even though the average number of household members continues to decline. It is more difficult to heat or cool such large places, even with heaters or modern air conditioners.In addition, since these houses can only be built on huge suburban lots, their occupants are completely dependent on the car.

"What does it take to get Americans to think again of smaller houses, closer to the city center, where they can use the bus or bicycle for their daily commute? A movement is needed that takes the aspirations of the people to a long life, with good quality and safety. A movement that takes those desires more seriously than the consumer economy has. An environmental culture that makes deeper criticism is required.

"How deep? Here are some data as interesting as the sharp increase in the planet's temperature ... and almost as depressing. Since the years after World War II, the percentage of Americans who consider they have a" very happy life "It has remained stable, although its material conditions have almost tripled in the same period. Having more things does not make us happier, but we cannot break a vicious circle that as the only real objective only offers us more things.

"For a long time, conventional economic theory has convinced us that we are entities with insatiable desires, which may be true, but apparently our greatest desire is to have more contact with other people. Americans have built the most individualistic society in the world. world: According to some surveys, the majority do not know their neighbors, a situation that would be completely foreign to a primate. This has contributed to the enormous success of the economy: Success or failure depends on your own efforts. However, it has also contributed the growing feeling of dissatisfaction and that cloud of carbon dioxide.

"If you have to go everywhere by car, it is difficult to reduce emissions. More if our idea of ​​paradise is still a 370 square meter house, away from the madding crowd, it is difficult to conceive a quick change But there is hope for a possible future alternative.

Citizen resistance

"Environmentalism is essentially an American invention, one of the most powerful conceptions that country has offered to the planet, which arose there for a very simple reason: Americans became fully aware of the consequences of their actions while they were still in the process. to dominate the country's forests and grasslands, but when it came time to tackle global warming, activism failed miserably.

"Environmentalism is not doomed. We need it more than ever. But it must become a new culture, not a new kind of filter. It must focus its attention on religious and sociologists as well as on scientists; carrots in the markets for agricultural products and caribou in the arctic tundra. We do not need a retouch of the world we already inhabit, but we must begin to produce changes that, by their magnitude, correspond to the problems we face. So much fear to what happens if we don't change, as the expectations of what will come if we do, open up new horizons for a deeper rethinking of what any American thinker since Thoreau has ever imagined. Yet 10 years is a very short time; it is best to start at once. "

* Gonzalo Palomino Ortiz
Tolima Ecological Group

Note: This article is a synthesis of the Intense Green article, published in National Geographic magazine in August 2006

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