The Ilusion of a Green Economy

Everything we do to protect our living planet, Earth, against forces that upset her equilibrium and therefore cause global warming, is valid and must be supported. But the very expression, «global warming» masks phenomena such as the extended droughts that decimate the grain harvests, the great floods and hurricanes, water shortages, soil erosion, hunger, impoverishment of 15 of the 24 services numbered in the Evaluation of Ecosystems of the Earth (UNO) and which are responsible for the sustainability of the planet (water, energy, soil, seeds, fibers, etc..) The central question is not even that of saving the Earth. The Earth takes care of herself and, if necessary, she will do so by expelling us from her womb. But how are we to save ourselves and our civilization? That is the real question, to which the majority responds by shrugging their shoulders.

Lower carbon emissions, organic products, solar and wind power, reducing our intervention in nature’s rhythms, seeking to replace the resources used, recycling, everything that falls under the rubric of green economy is sought after and disseminated. And this mode of production should prevail. 

Even so, we must not be deluded and lose our critical awareness. Green economy is discussed to avoid the issue of sustainability, because it is contrary to the present mode of production and consumption. But deep down, the green economy utilizes measures within the paradigm of dominating nature. The green and the not-green do not exist. There are elements that are toxic to the health of the Earth and society in various phases of the production of all products. Through the Analysis of the Cycle of Life we can demonstrate and monitor the complex interrelations between the different phases: extraction, transportation, production, use and discharge of each product, and its environmental impact. It is clear that the so-called green is not as green as it sounds. The green only represents a phase of processing. Production is never eco-friendly.

Take as an example ethanol, considered to be clean energy, and an alternative to fossil fuels and dirty energy from oil. Ethanol is clean only at the mouth of the fuel pump. All the processes of its production are highly polluting: the chemical products applied to the soil, the burnings, the transportation in big trucks that release gasses, the affluent liquids and the chaff. The pesticides kill bacteria and expel the earthworms that are fundamental to the regeneration of the soil; they only return after five years.

To ensure production of the goods necessary for life, in a way which neither stresses nor degrades nature, something more than the search for the green is required. The crisis is conceptual, not economic. Our relationship with the Earth has to change. We are part of Gaia, and through our careful actions we can help her become more conscious, and create a greater opportunity for assuring her vitality.

I see no path to saving ourselves other than that defined by The Earthcharter: «our common destiny calls us to search for a new beginning; this requires a change in the mind and in the heart; it demands a new awareness of global interdependency and of universal responsibility» (final).

Change of mind: to adopt a new concept of the Earth as Gaia. She does not belong to us, but to the group of eco-systems that serve the totality of life, regulating her biophysical base and the climates. She created the entire community of life, not just us. We are her conscious and responsible segment. The hardest work is done by our invisible partners, a true natural proletariat, the microorganisms, the bacteria and the fungi, of which there are thousands of millions in each tablespoon of Earth. They have effectively sustained life for 3.8 thousand million years already. Our relationship with the Earth should be like our relationship with our mothers: one of respect and gratitude. We should gratefully restore that which she gives us, and maintain her vital capacity.

Change of heart: besides the instrumental reason we use to organize production, we need the cordial and sensitive reason that expresses itself through the love of the Earth and by the respect for every being of creation, because they are our companions in the community of life, and by the feeling of reciprocity, of interdependency and of caring, because that is our mission.

Without this conversion we will not overcome the myopia of a green economy. Only new minds and new hearts will give birth to the future.

How to Handle the Infinite Desire?

Desire is not just another impulse. It is a motor that sets in motion all psychic life. It is the function of a principle, defined by philosopher Ernst Bloch as the hope principle. By its nature, it knows no limits, as Aristotle and Freud already observed. The psyche not only desires this or that, it desires the totality. It does not desire the fullness of man, it seeks the superman, as Nietzsche explained, that which infinitely surpasses the human.

Desire makes existence dramatic, and sometimes tragic. But also, when realized, it produces a happiness without equal. We are always seeking the object which would fulfill our infinite desire, and fail to find it in the realm of everyday experience. In the everyday, we only find finites.
 When the human being identifies a finite reality as the infinite object it seeks, a profound disillusionment results. Can the beloved person, a very desired profession, be the dream? A moment comes, and often very quickly, when a fundamental dissatisfaction is perceived and the desire for something more is felt.

How does one escape the impasse caused by infinite desire? By fluttering from one object to another, without ever finding repose? We must start to seriously seek the true object of our desire. I respond as follows: it is the Being and not the entity, the Whole and not the part, the Infinite and not the finite. After so much traveling, the human being is left with the cor inquietum (restless heart) experience of Saint Augustine: Late I loved you, oh Beauty so ancient and so new. Late I loved you. My restless heart will not rest until it rests in You. Only the Infinite Being can fulfill the infinite desire of the human being, and let him rest.

Desire involves powerful volcanic energies. How can one handle them? Above all, it is about welcoming the condition of desire, without moralizing. Passions push the human being in all directions. Some passions push towards generosity, others to egocentrism. To integrate such energies without repressing them requires caring, and more than a few renunciations.

The psyche is called upon to build a personal synthesis, that is the search of equilibrium of all interior energies. Neither to be victimized by an obsession for a specific desire, as for example, sexuality, nor to repress it. as if it were possible to debilitate its vigor. What is important is to integrate it as expression of affection, of love and of aesthetics, and watch it carefully, because we are dealing with a vital energy that cannot be fully controlled by reason, but through symbolic means of sublimation and redirection to other humanitarian purposes. Each person must learn how to renounce, in the sense of realizing an ascetic act that liberates one from dependencies, and creates an inner freedom, one of the most valuable gifts.

Another way of dealing with infinite desire is by taking precautions, that help us avoid the traps of the very human vulnerability. We are neither omnipotent, nor gods who cannot be touched by failure. We can find ourselves weak and, sometimes, cowards. But we must take precautions against situations that could make us fall and lose the Center.

C.G.Jung offers us perhaps an inspiring key, with his proposal of building a process of individuation along life’s trajectory. This process has a holistic dimension: accept without fear and with humility all the pulsations, images, archetypes, lights and shadows. Listen to the roar of the beasts that inhabit it, but also to the enchanting song of the thrush. How can one create an interior unity, resulting in the equilibrium of our desires, the experience of freedom and the joy of living?

Jung suggests that everyone strive to create a strong Center, a unifying Self that would function as the sun does in the solar system. The sun attracts all the planets around it. Something similar must occur with the psyche: one must nourish a personal Center that integrates everything, with reflection and internalizing, and not last, by nourishing the Sacred and the Spiritual. It is not uncommon that religion, as an institution, cuts off our spiritual life, with an excess of doctrines and too rigid moral norms. But religion as spirituality performs a fundamental function in the process of individuation. Religion has the function of linking and re-linking the person with his Center, with all things, with the universe, with the original Source of all beings, giving it a sense of belonging.

The lack of integration of the energy of desire manifests itself through the rupture of social relations, the murderous violence in the schools, or in the murders of the Blacks, the poor and homosexuals.

Consequently, learning to handle the forces of desire implies a concern for social health. A humanistic, ethical and civic education must not neglect educating the desire. The greatest obstacle lies in the very logic of the prevalent system, centered in the desire to have, not thinking of the civilizing values of gentleness, good treatment and respect for the person. To the contrary, the mass media extol individual desire and violence as the means of solving human conflicts.

Globalization as a human phenomenon will force us to moderate personal desires for the benefit of the collective ones, thus making human coexistence more equilibrated and friendly.

A ilusão de uma economia verde

Tudo o que fizermos para proteger o planeta vivo que é a Terra contra fatores que a tiraram de seu equilíbrio e provocaram, em conseqüência, o aquecimento global é válido e deve ser apoiado. Na verdade, a expressão “aquecimento global”esconde fenômenos como: secas prolongadas que dizimam safras de grãos, grandes inundações e vendavais, falta de água, erosão dos solos, fome, degradação daqueles 15 entre os 24 serviços, elencados pela Avaliação Ecossistêmica da Terra (ONU), responsáveis pela sustentabilidade do planeta(água, energia, solos, sementes, fibras etc).

A questão central nem é salvar a Terra. Ela se salva a si mesma e, se for preciso, nos expulsando de seu seio. Mas como nos salvamos a nós mesmos e a nossa civilização? Esta é real questão que a maioria dá de ombros,especialmente os que tratam da macroeconomia.

A produção de baixo de carbono, os produtos orgânicos, energia solar e eólica, a diminuição, o mais possível, de intervenção nos ritmos da natureza, a busca da reposição dos bens utilizados, a reciclagem, tudo que vem sob o nome de economia verde são os processos mais buscados e difundidos. E é recomendável que esse modo de produzir se imponha.

Mesmo assim não devemos nos iludir e perder o sentido critico. Fala-se de economia verde para evitar a questão da sustentabilidade que se encontra em oposição ao atual modo de produção e consumo. Mas no fundo, trata-se de medidas dentro do mesmo paradigma de dominação da natureza. Não existe o verde e o não verde. Todos os produtos contem nas várias fases de sua produção, elementos tóxicos, danosos à saúde da Terra e da sociedade. Hoje pelo método da Análise do Ciclo de Vida podemos exibir e monitorar as complexas inter-relações entre as várias etapas, da extração, do transporte, da produção, do uso e do descarte de cada produto e seus impactos ambientais. Ai fica claro que o pretendido verde não é tão verde assim. O verde representa apenas uma etapa de todo um processo. A produção nunca é de todo ecoamigável.

Tomemos como exemplo o etanol, dado como energia limpa e alternativa à energia fóssil e suja do petróleo. Ele é limpo somente na boca da bomba de abastecimento. Todo o processo de sua produção é altamente poluidor: os agrotóxicos aplicados ao solo, as queimadas, o transporte com grandes caminhões que emitem gases, as emissões das fábricas, os efluentes líquidos e o bagaço. Os pesticidas eliminam bactérias e expulsam as minhocas que são fundamentais para a regeneração os solos; elas só voltam depois de cinco anos.

Para garantirmos uma produção, necessária à vida, que não estresse e degrade a natureza, precisamos mais do que a busca do verde. A crise é conceptual e não econômica. A relação para com a Terra tem que mudar. Somos parte de Gaia e por nossa atuação cuidadosa a tornamos mais consciente e com mais chance de assegurar sua vitalidade.

Para nos salvar não vejo outro caminho senão aquele apontado pela Carta da Terra:”o destino comum nos conclama a buscar um novo começo; isto requer uma mudança na mente e no coração; demanda um novo sentido de interdependência global e de responsabilidade universal”(final).

Mudança de mente significa um novo conceito de Terra como Gaia. Ela não nos pertence, mas ao conjunto dos ecossistemas que servem à totalidade da vida, regulando sua base biofísica e os climas. Ela criou toda a comunidade de vida e não apenas nós. Nós somos sua porção consciente e responsável. O trabalho mais pesado é feito pelos nossos parceiros invisíveis, verdadeiro proletariado natural, os microorganismos, as bactérias e fungos que são bilhões em cada culherada de chão. São eles que sustentam efetivamente a vida já há 3,8 bilhões de anos. Nossa relação para com a Terra deve ser como aquela com nossas mães: de respeito e gratidão. Devemos devolver, agradecidos, o que ela nos dá e manter sua capacidade vital.

Mudança de coração significa que além da razão instrumental com a qual organizamos a produção, precisamos da razão cordial e sensível que se expressa pelo amor à Terra e pelo respeito a cada ser da criação porque é nosso companheiro na comunidade de vida e pelo sentimento de reciprocidade, de interdependência e de cuidado, pois essa é nossa missão.

Sem essa conversão não sairemos da miopia de uma economia verde.Só novas mentes e novos corações gestarão outro futuro.

From the Fifth Gospel: A Proclamation by the Cristo Redentor do Corcovado,Rio

In those days, when He reached 80 years of existence, The Cristo do Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro trembled and revived. What was cement and rock became flesh and blood. Opening His arms, as if He wanted to embrace the world, He opened His mouth, spoke and said:

«Blessed are you, the poor, the hungry, the sick and the fallen down on so many pathways without a good Samaritan to help you. The Father who is also Mother of goodness carries you in His heart and promises that you will be the first inheritors of the Kingdom of justice and peace.

Woe you, wielders of power, who for five hundred years have sucked the blood of the workers, reducing them to cheap combustibles for your machines that produce iniquitous wealth. I will not be the one who judges you, but your victims, behind whom I Myself hid and suffered.

Blessed are all of you, the indigenous of so many ethnic nations, first inhabitants of these very happy lands, who live in the innocence of a life in communion with nature. You were almost exterminated, but are resurrecting now with your religions and cultures giving witness to the presence of the Spirit Creator who never abandoned you.

Woe to those who enslaved you, who murdered you with the sword and the cross, denied your humanity, labeled your cults Satanic, stole your lands and ridiculed the wisdom of your chamanes.

Blessed are you, and I repeat, blessed are you, my Black brothers and sisters, unjustly brought from Africa to be sold as property in the markets, turned into coal to be consumed in the sugar mills, always harassed and dying before your time.

Woe to those who dehumanized you! Justice calls to the heavens until the day of final judgment. Accursed be the slave hut, accursed the cage, accursed the whip, accursed the chains, accursed the slave ship. Blessed be the refuge of el palenque, forerunner of a world of liberated people and of a fraternity without distinctions.

Blessed are those who struggle for the land in the fields and in the city, land to live on and to work and to bring forth from the Earth the sustenance for oneself and all others, for the hungry of the whole world.

Accursed be the large unproductive states that expel those who work it as their own, and murder those who occupy it to have a place to live, to work and to earn the bread for their sons and daughters. I tell you in truth: the day will come when you will be dispossessed. The small earth that will cover you will be an overwhelming weight on your graves.

Blessed are you, women of the people, who have resisted millenarian oppression, who have conquered spaces of participation and freedom and who are struggling for a society not defined by gender. A society where men and women, together, different, reciprocal and equal, inaugurate the perennial alliance of sharing, of love, and of shared responsibility.

Blessed are you, the millions of children lacking everything and thrown onto the streets, victims of a society of exclusion that has lost its tenderness towards innocent life. My Father, like a Grand Mother, will wipe away your tears and embrace you in Her heart because you are Her most beloved sons and daughters.

Happy are the pastors who humbly serve the people among the people, with the people and for the people. Woe to those pastors who dress in fancy clothes, are filled with vanity on television, use sacred symbols of power, extol the Our Father and forget the Our Bread. How many use the staff against the sheep instead of against the wolves! I do not recognize you and will not give witness in your favor when you come in front of my Father.

Blessed are the ecclesiastic base communities, the social movements for the Earth, for a house, for education, for health, for security. Happy are those who, without the need of talking about Myself, assume the same cause for which I lived, was persecuted and executed on the cross. But I came back to continue the insurrection against a world that places more value on material goods than on life, that prefers private accumulation over participation in solidarity and which would rather feed their dogs well than feed hungry people.

Blessed are those who dream that a new world is possible and necessary, with room for all, nature included. Happy are those who love Mother Earth as they love their own mother and respect her rhythms, giving her peace so that she may recreate her nutrients and continue producing all that we need to live.

Blessed are those who do not desist, but resist and insist that the world can be different and it will be, a world where poetry walks alongside work, music joins machineries, where all recognize each other as brothers and sisters, living in the only Common House we have, this beautiful, luminous little planet Earth.

In true, in true I say to you: happy are you because all of you are sons and daughters of joy and you are in the palm of God’s hand. Amen».