BY MARJORIE STEWART
The ancient Greeks warned that hubris (hyper-arrogance) leads inevitably to punishment by the goddess Nemesis (she who distributes).
In 1972, the Club of Rome presented Limits to Growth; in 1973, Oxford economist E.F. Schumacher published Small Is Beautiful; and in 1987 the Brundtland Report, Our Common Future,’ introduced the concept of sustainable development.
‘Human rights’ is used to justify the hubris of neoliberal economists and neoconservative and even democratic socialist politicians. But humanity does not have any rights to destroy planetary species and systems in the real world. Humans do not own the Earth, despite the convention that the whole planet is ‘owned,’ either privately by individuals and corporations or publicly by national governments representing citizens.
This notion of ownership is yet to be constrained by replacing greeds with needs. The words we use to describe our place on Earth must be understood in terms of ending the hubris and repairing the damage. We cobble together ‘social ecology’ and ‘ecosocial’ as if Earth exists to serve humanity, which is absurd because this is an asymmetric conflict in which planet trumps people.
While the purpose of social enterprise to include right treatment of people is important, placing jobs and the economy as top priorities is licence to continue destroying the planetary natural systems without which we cannot live. Treating pollution, species extinctions, resource depletion, food insecurity and other threats as less important than jobs and profits for humans is foolish.
Since most of us have been brainwashed to accept the greeds of convenience as more important than essential needs, we have two difficult jobs ahead: to change our personal complicity by living less carelessly and to hold our elected representatives accountable for crimes such as climate change. In my opinion, both personal and political actions to reduce human destructiveness are essential and inter-twined.
Since industrial animal farming and agriculture are major contributors to greenhouse gas atmospheric pollution, replacing the systems of global greed with regenerative farming to meet genuine needs must take priority over pre-pandemic commercial recklessness.
“Converting to regenerative agriculture will not be easy – especially for farmers who live on land that has been farmed the same way for generations – but it may allow more small farmers to keep their family farms and make farming more attractive to the next generation,” writes David Kuchta in Treehugger. “With governments and individuals increasingly concerned about the need to address the climate crisis, regenerative agriculture will also help more people realize that eating healthy food grown in healthy soil is a way to make the planet healthy, too.”
Speaking of climate change, the Transition Nanaimo society is asking the question: What would it take to build a truly resilient, sustainable, equitable, local food system responsive to, and helping mitigate, the effects of climate change? The society is hosting a free, virtual, public discussion March 12-13 entitled ‘Food for Thought: Food, Farming and Climate Change Virtual Summit.’ Information can be found at the website http://transitionnanaimo.ca.
Marjorie Stewart is past chairperson of the Nanaimo Foodshare Society. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.