How Much Sustainability Will the Green Economy Tolerate?

Three are the main actors in Rio+20: the official State and government representatives, the business community, and The Peoples’ Leadership. Each group brings a proposal and a vision for the future.

The Official Representatives, considering the First Draft and the Definitv Text once again propose the empty sustainable development, now colored green. They forgot to acknowledge, however, that sustainable development has failed miserably. Mikhail Gorbachov says: “the present model of economic growth is unsustainable; it engenders crises, social injustice and the danger of an environmental catastrophe” (O Globo 8/6/2012). The Systemic Evaluation of the Ecosystems of the Millennium revealed in 2005 that the principal elements that sustain life are being degraded. That was reiterated in the recent PNUMA Report. The First Draft of Rio+20 recognizes that «sustainable development continues to be a distant goal» (n.13). But with their dogmatic faith in sustainable development that, in fact, is material growth, they continue to propose more of the same.

Gorbachov emphatically states: «twenty years after Rio-92 we are surrounded by cynicism and, for many, desperation». Have the agents of the present world system suffered some kind of lobotomy? They do not feel the urgency of the environmental threat. They prefer to save the financial system and the banks than to guarantee life and protect the Earth. The red light and special check warning are already on.

The Businessmen, important actors, are becoming aware of the limits of the Earth, and of population growth and global warming. They are not waiting for a virtually impossible consensus from the UN and government gatherings. More than a hundred business leaders gathered in Rio before the formal event. They purported to create a G-0, in opposition to the G-2, G-7 or G-20. They confidently declare: «we need to take charge». The agreed collective agenda is in line with green economy, not as a new model, but by lowering the production of carbon and preserving nature as much as possible. However, they comprise only 1% of enterprises with assets of more than a billion dollars, as the Financial Times recently noted. They understand that the problem cannot be solved within the current model: by reconciling sustainability and profit. Those in charge do not want to renounce profit in the name of sustainability. Sustainability ends up being so fragile that it almost vanishes. These businessmen at least have grasped the problem: either they change, or they will go down with everyone else.

The third actor is the Peoples’ Leadership. Thousands have come from all over the world, the altermundisters (those who seek a different world), those who want to show what they are doing with solidarian economy and fair trade, with the preservation of semillas criollas (native seeds), with the struggle against transgenics, with organic family farms, with the ecoaldeas (eco-villages) and alternative energies. Here one sees a different form of production and consumption, more in consonance with the rhythms of nature, the result of a new way of looking at the Earth, as possessing dignity and rights.

To summarize, I would say that in the first group, resignation reigns, in the second, agitation, and in the third, hope.

This is the following outcome of Rio+20: the formal gathering of the UN aproved green economy, with the same basic capitalistic mode of production. This will allow business to trade in the goods and services of nature. A World Organization of the Environment was not created, along the lines of the World Organization of Commerce.

The business community will pressure the governments not to interfere with the business of the green economy. They want a free hand, because it is all about a low carbon economy and therefore it is eco-friendly, even though it retains the current model.

The Peoples’ Leadership  launched  an alternative to Green Economy: the Solidarian Economy. They will create global movements against the marketing of goods and services, such as water, soil, seeds, jungles, oceans and others, which are understood as goods that are common to all humanity.

For now, there will be no steps towards a new paradigm of world society, but it will be a must in the face of the environmental crises that are approaching. Collective suffering will provide bitter lessons. We will learn, from those agonies, a love and caring for life, for humanity and for Mother Earth, all of which are pre-conditions to the future we want.

Os termos da discussão ecológica atual

A Rio+20 provocou vasta discussão sobre questões ecológicas. Nem todos entendem os termos técnicos da temática. Publicamos aqui um artigo do mais conhecido ecologista do Estado do Rio, Arthur Soffiati, de Campos de Goytacazes,RJ, fundador do Centro Norte Fluminense para a Conservação da Natureza e publicada no dia 14 de maio de 2012 na Folha da Manhã daquela cidade. Eis a palavras principais: Ecodesenvolvimento, desenvolvimento sustentável, economia verde, pegada ecológica, antropoceno.
Há cerca de 11 mil anos, a temperatura da Terra começou a se elevar naturalmente, produzindo o derretimento progressivo da última grande glaciação. Grande parte da água, passando do estado sólido para o líquido, elevou o nível dos mares, separou terras dos continentes, formou ilhas, incentivou a formação de florestas e de outros ambientes. Os cientistas deram a esta fase nova o nome de Holoceno.
Nesses últimos 11 mil anos, restou dos Hominídeos apenas o “Homo sapiens”, que se tornou soberano em todo o planeta. Com um cérebro bem desenvolvido, ele foi desafiado pelas novas condições climáticas e domesticou plantas e animais, inventando a agropecuária, criou tecnologia para polir a pedra, inventou a roda, a tecelagem e a metalurgia. Logo a seguir, criou cidades, impérios, represas, drenagem e irrigação. Várias civilizações ultrapassaram os limites dos ecossistemas em que se ergueram, gerando crises ambientais que contribuíram para o seu fim.
Entra, então, o conceito de pegada ecológica. Ele se refere ao grau de impacto ecológico por um indivíduo, um empreendimento, uma economia, uma sociedade. A pegada ecológica das civilizações anteriores à civilização ocidental sempre teve um caráter regional, sendo reversíveis ou não. O ocidente foi a civilização que calçou as botas mais pesadas conhecidas até o momento. O peso começou com o capitalismo, que transformou o mundo.
A partir do século XV, a civilização ocidental (leia-se europeia) passou a imprimir marcas profundas com a expansão marítima. Impôs sua cultura a outras áreas do planeta. O mundo foi ocidentalizado e passou também a pisar fundo no ambiente.
Veio, então, outra grande transformação com a revolução industrial, cuja origem localiza-se na Inglaterra do século XVIII. Ela se expandiu pelo mundo, dividindo-o em países industrializados e países exportadores de matéria prima. A partir dela, começa a se criar uma outra realidade planetária, com emissões de gases causadores do aquecimento global, devastação de florestas, empobrecimento da biodiversidade, uso indevido do solo, urbanização maciça, alterações profundas nos ciclos de nitrogênio e fósforo, contaminação da água doce, adelgaçamento da camada de ozônio e extração excessiva de recursos naturais não-renováve is, que, por sua vez, produz quantidades inauditas de lixo.
Os cientistas estão demonstrando que, dentro do Holoceno (holos=inteiro+koinos=novo), a ação humana coletiva no capitalismo e no socialismo provocou uma crise ambiental sem precedentes na história da Terra porque gerada por uma só espécie. Eles estão denominando o período pós-revolução industrial do século XVIII de Antropoceno, ou seja, uma fase geológica construída pela ação coletiva do ser humano (antropos=homem+koinos=novo).
Em função dessa grande crise ou dessa nova época é que a Organização das Nações Unidas vem promovendo grandes conferências internacionais, como as Conferências de Estocolmo (1972), Rio-92 e, proximamente, a Rio+20. O objetivo é resolver os problemas do Antropoceno, seja conciliando desenvolvimento econômico e proteção do ambiente, seja buscando outras formas de desenvolvimento. A Rio-92 adotou a fórmula do desenvolvimento sustentável, que ganhou diversos sentidos, inclusive antagônicos ao original.
A Conferência Rio+20 pretende colocar em pé de igualdade as dimensões ambiental, social e econômica. A palavra mágica, agora, é economia verde, cujo conteúdo não apresenta clareza. Supõe-se que, no mínimo, signifique a substituição progressiva de fontes de energia carbono-intensivas por fontes renováveis de energia, bem como a substituição de recursos não renováveis por renováveis.
A Rio+20 mostrou que os países industrializados não querem abdicar da sua posição; os países emergentes querem alcançar os industrializados; e os países pobres querem ser emergentes. Enquanto não houver entendimento acerca dos limites do planeta, inútil pensar em justiça social e desenvolvimento econômico. Por conseguinte, o ambiente é mais importante que o social e o econômico, já que sem ele não se pode encontrar solução para os outros dois. Por outro lado, o conceito de ecodesenvolvimento parece ser o mais correto enquanto tática e estratégia.

Das Fehlen einer neuen Vision in Rio+20

Das hauptsächliche Manko im UNO-Dokument für Rio +20 besteht in der völligen Abwesenheit einer neuen Vision oder einer neuen Weltanschauung, die Grund zur Hoffnung gäbe auf eine „Zukunft, die wir wollen“, wie das Motto dieser großen Zusammenkunft lautet. Doch so wird eine verheißungsvolle Zukunft verwehrt.

Für die Autoren dieses Textes ist die Zukunft von der Wirtschaft abhängig. Dem dazugehörigen Adjektiv „nachhaltig“ oder „grün“ messen sie wenig Bedeutung bei. Vor allem stellt die grüne Wirtschaft („green economy“) einen Anschlag auf die letzte Bastion der Natur dar, indem sie alles zu einer Ware verwandelt und mit einem Preis versieht, was zu den Gemeingütern zählt, was natürlich, lebendig und lebensnotwendig ist, wie das Wasser, die Böden, Fruchtbarkeit, Urwälder, Gene etc. Was zum Leben gehört, ist heilig und darf nicht vermarktet werden. Stattdessen wird es zum Handelsgegenstand gemacht gemäß dem kategorischen Imperativ: Nimm alles, was du willst, handle mit allem, vor allem mit der Natur und ihren Gütern und Dienstleistungen.

Dies ist höchster Egoismus und Arroganz des Menschen oder, wie man es auch nennt, Anthropozentrismus. Die Menschen sehen in der Erde einen Supermarkt, der nur für sie Ressourcen bereithält, ohne zu erkennen, dass wir weder die einzigen Erdbewohner sind noch die Erde besitzen; wir spüren nicht, dass wir ein Teil der Natur sind, sondern fühlen uns als Wesen außerhalb der Natur und ihr überlegen als ihre Herren und Meister. Wir vergessen allerdings, dass es eine ganze sichtbare Lebensgemeinschaft gibt (5 % der Biosphäre) und Quadrillionen über Quadrillionen unsichtbarer Mikroorganismen (95 %), die für die Vitalität und für die Fruchtbarkeit der Erde sorgen. Sie alle gehören zur Erde, zum Kondomium und haben ein Recht zu leben und mit uns zu koexistieren. Ohne eine Beziehung wechselseitiger Abhängigkeit mit ihnen könnten wir nicht einmal existieren. Diesem Umstand trägt das Rio +20-Dokument nicht Rechnung. Wir können dann davon ausgehen, dass von diesem Papier keine Rettung zu erwarten ist. Es bahnt vielmehr einen Weg zum Abgrund. Solange wir noch Zeit haben, müssen wir dies dringend vermeiden.

Unsere aktuelle Sicht oder Kosmologie ist geprägt von der Eroberung der Welt und von grenzenlosem Wachstum. Es ist eine mechanistische, deterministische, atomisierte und reduktionistische Weltanschauung. Dank dieser Anschauung kontrollieren und konsumieren 20 % der Weltbevölkerung 80 % der Naturschätze, die Hälfte der großen Urwälder wurden zerstört, 65 % landwirtschaftlich bebaubarer Fläche ruiniert, 27.000 bis 100.000 Spezies sterben jedes Jahr aus (Wilson), und mehr als 1.000 synthetische chemische, zumeist giftige, Stoffe werden in die Natur entsorgt. Wir stellen Massenvernichtungswaffen her, die in der Lage sind, alles Menschenleben zu zerstören. Im Endeffekt bringen wir die Erde aus dem Gleichgewicht, was man an der globalen Erwärmung ablesen kann. Mit den sich bisher angesammelten Gasen werden wir bis zum Jahr 2035 auf einen Temperaturanstieg um 3-4°C kommen, was das Leben, wie wir es kennen, praktisch unmöglich macht.

Die aktuelle Wirtschaftsfinanzkrise, die ganze Nationen ins Elend stürzt, vergrößert die Gefahr und wirkt jeglichem nötigen Kurswechsel entgegen.

Im Gegensatz dazu ist die potenziell erlösende Vision oder Weltanschauung der Achtsamkeit und der universellen Verantwortung aufgekommen. Am besten findet sie ihren Ausdruck in der Erd-Charta. Diese ordnet unsere Realität in die Kosmogenese ein, den immensen Evolutionsprozess, der vor ca. 13,7 Milliarden Jahren seinen Anfang nahm. Das Universum breitet sich aus, organisiert sich selbst und erschafft sich beständig selbst. In diesem Universum ist alles durch Netzwerke miteinander verbunden, und nichts existiert außerhalb dieser Beziehungen. Aus diesem Grund sind alle Wesen wechselseitig voneinander abhängig und müssen miteinander kooperieren, um das Gleichgewicht aller Faktoren zu erhalten. Der Auftrag der Menschheit besteht darin, diese sinfonieartige Harmonie zu pflegen und aufrecht zu erhalten. Was wir brauchen ist nicht die Produktion zur Anhäufung von Privateigentum, sondern dessen, was für alle ausreichend und angemessen ist unter Beachtung der Grenzen und Zyklen der Natur.

Hinter all dem wirkt die Grundenergie, die dem Universum seinen Ursprung verlieh, es aufrechterhält und Neues entstehen lässt. Am spektakulärsten von all dem ist die lebendige Erde und die Menschheit, der bewusste Anteil der Erde, mit ihrem Auftrag, für diese zu sorgen und Verantwortung für sie zu tragen.

Diese neue Vision würde die „Zukunft, die wir wollen“  gewährleisten. Andernfalls werden wir unvermeidlich ins kollektive Chaos getrieben mit verheerenden Konsequenzen. Diese Vision ist inspirierend. Anstatt mit der Natur Geschäfte zu machen, begeben wir uns selbst in ihr Inneres in tiefer Harmonie und Synergie, respektieren ihre Grenzen und streben nach dem „guten Leben“, d. h. nach Harmonie mit allen und mit Mutter Erde. Diese neue Weltanschauung ist mehr durch Achtsamkeit als durch Beherrschung charakterisiert und durch die Anerkennung der intrinsischen Werte aller Wesen und nicht durch deren puren Nutzen für den Menschen, durch Respekt für alles Leben und für die Rechte der Natur anstatt deren Plünderung, und durch die Vermählung ökologischer und sozialer Gerechtigkeit.

Diese Vision steht mehr in Einklang mit den wirklichen menschlichen Bedürfnissen und mit der Logik des Universums selbst. Nähme das Rio +20-Dokument diese Vision zum Hintergrund seiner Überlegungen, entstünde die Gelegenheit zu einer planetaren Zivilisation, in der Achtsamkeit, Kooperation, Liebe, Respekt, Freude und Spiritualität im Mittelpunkt stehen. Eine solche Option würde nicht an den Abgrund führen, sondern in eine Zukunft, die wir wollen: eine Bio-Zivilisation der guten Hoffnung.

Green Economy versus Solidarian Economy

The UN’s main document for Rio +20 is still held hostage to the old paradigm of dominating nature in order to extract from her the greatest possible benefits for business and the markets. By and through it, the human being seeks the means of life and subsistence. The green economy radicalizes this tendency, because, as Bolivian diplomat and ecologist Pablo Solon wrote, «the green economy seeks to market not only the timber of the jungle, but also its capacity for absorbing carbon dioxide». All this can be transformed into negotiable bonds by the markets and banks. In this way the document definitively reveals itself as anthropocentric, as if everything were destined to the exclusive use of humans, and the Earth had created them exclusively for human use, and not for other living beings that also demand ecological sustainability in order to survive on this planet.

Summarizing: \”the future we want\”, the central motto of the UN document, is nothing more than the continuation of the present. It seems threatening, and negates a hopeful future. In such a context, not moving forward is to go backwards, and to close the door to the new.

Worse yet: the entire text revolves around the economy. Whether we paint it green or brown, it maintains its internal logic, expressed by the question: how much can I make in the shortest time, with the least possible investment, and maintaining strong competitiveness? Let’s not be ingenuous: the business of today’s economy is business. It does not offer a new relationship with nature, or a sense of being part of nature and responsible for her vitality and integrity. To the contrary, it makes open war on nature, as explained by the philosopher of ecology Michel Serres. In this war there is no possibility of success. It ignores our efforts, and continues its course even without our presence. The task of the intelligentsia is to decipher what nature is trying to tell us (through extreme events, the tsunamis, etc.), to defend ourselves against their damaging effects and to put their energies to work for us. Nature offers us information but does not tell us how to behave. We ourselves must determine that. Our behavior will be good and sound only if it conforms to nature’s rhythms and cycles.

As an alternative to this economy of devastation, if we want to have a future, we need to oppose this with a different paradigm: one of economy of preservation, conservation and sustainability for all life. We need to produce, yes, but starting from the goods and services that nature offers us for free, respecting the reach and limits of each bio-region, distributing equitably the fruits obtained, considering the rights of future generations and of the other beings within the community of life. Nature now takes form through a bio-centered economy, solidarian, agro-ecologic, familiar and organic. Each community seeks to guarantee food sovereignty: produce what is consumed, relating producers and consumers in a true food democracy.

Rio 92 consecrated the anthropocentric and reductionist concept of sustainable development, elaborated by the 1987 Brundland UN report. It was transformed into a dogma professed by official documents, by states and enterprises, without ever being subjected to serious criticism. It coopted sustainability for its field only, thus distorting the relationships with nature. The disasters that were caused were seen as externalities, not worthy of note. But it so happens that these turned dark, capable of destroying the physical-chemical basis that sustains human life and a great part of the bio-sphere. They have not been overcome by the green economy. It has become a trap by the rich countries, especially of the Organization for Econmic Cooperation and development, (OCDE, from the Spanish, Organización para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo Económico), that produced the theoretical text of PNUMA, Initiative of the Green Economy. Through this they cleverly avoided a discussion of sustainability, social and psychological justice, global warming, the failed economic model and the changed point of view, a different view of the planet that may project a real future for humanity and for the Earth.

Along with Rio +20, it would be very useful to rescue Stockholm +40. In that first UN world conference on the Human Environment, from July 5 to 15, 1972, in Stockholm, Sweden, the focus was not development, but caring and collective responsibility for all that surrounds us and that is in an accelerated process of degradation, affecting all, especially the poor countries. It was a humanistic and generous perspective that got lost in the closed briefcase of sustainable development, and, now, of the green economy.