There is only one solution: a great global Pact on the Earth’s habitability

Thursday, September 2, 2021

 

“It all depends on the pain produced by what you’re looking at”.

Mario Benedetti.

 

Headlines such as those found in newspapers in the last few days highlight the truly dire situation we are about to reach:

"Ecocide, international crime..." "Citizens pressure on governments and companies must spur an agreement at the Glasgow Summit to avoid climate suicide...” "Dangerous future: UN report urges immediate action to avoid worst-case climate scenario...". “Extreme fire: the devastating effects of fire in California, Siberia or Greece are examples of the impact of climate change...”

In such a bleak scenario the fact that multimillionaire Branson "flew to the edge of space” with his own craft is hard to understand and absolutely intolerable... He did so in direct competition with Jeff Bezos from Amazon, both billionaires having exhibited an irresponsible neglect of their most pressing duties!

Security in the age of robots and drones -the new "warlords in the sky"- must today, more than ever, be clothed in essential human values and take on the new demands of human security.

After years of neoliberal governance by plutocratic groups (G-6,G-7,G-8,G-20), the social gap has widened, democratic multilateralism has finally been  set aside, and the Nation-State,  still based on weak structures at a regional scale, languishes while citizens are progressively overshadowed by digital technology -which both gives them a voice and turns them into a silent and disoriented citizenship-; but, with the reflections brought about by the pandemic confinement, citizens have become increasingly aware of the precariousness of health care facilities, the privatisation of education and health centres, that has increased in recent years, the social effects of relocation of production, and the unfortunate result of the excessive concentration of economic activities in tourism.

In case ecological arguments were not convincing enough, recent events in Afghanistan represent a true knock on the door... After twenty years of “mixed” governance, it turns out -after United States withdrawal without leaving behind a well prepared replacement program- that the Taliban and heroine continue to be the irresponsible masters of a country whose future is once again in jeopardy because democratic multilateralism did not take action on time!

The threat to security posed by the non-fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda, and aggravated by the potential irreversibility of some processes, has increased the despondency and discomfort of young people, who had become involved -moved by laudable feelings of co-responsibility- in the fight against climate change and in favour of gender equality. Once again little attention has been paid to their demands, to their requests, to their reflections prompted by COVID-19.

In most cases when young people have been heard the aim was not to satisfy their demands but rather to give them an answer and contradict them... The only response they need today to be able to build the path towards a new era is a radical change in security, investing considerable human, economic and technical resources in food, education, health, ecology.... and, above all, care and information services should become “more humane”, by placing human beings where today one only finds technology, and extending psychological attention given to people of all ages, especially the youngest and the elderly. To do so we can take advantage, thanks to longevity, of an underused treasure: the experience of so many retired people who possess a great stock of remedies.

Today's epidemics are "synergistic" and involve social factors. They have an adverse effect on health -hunger, obesity, climate change- in different socio-economic, political, ecological... contexts. They require a treatment that cannot be exclusively biomedical. They have many important aspects that cannot be neglected: educational, social, media... COVID-19 has diverted medical attention from widely spread sicknesses, with considerable morbidity and mortality, and affected the mental and emotional health of the population.

Many irresponsible behaviours, also found in adult individuals even in politicians -some of which argue that “human rights” allow them to jeopardize the health of their fellow human beings (!)-, urgently require a clear definition of the frontier between liberty and crime.  Crime against health... The barbarians who organize “illegal parties”, resulting in new outbreaks of contagion, should be forced to understand that they are acting against the human rights of those who may, due to their unconsciousness, suffer from the disease and sometimes become seriously ill.

Liberty, without limits. Violence, none. The speedy circulation of information through social networks should be compensated with truthful messages that can clarify many ideas and news, and promote personal reflection, “autonomy”... Discomfort and rebellion are becoming generalized feelings in many countries where most people enjoy a considerable prosperity... What is happening?  Why are the recommendations of scientists and experts not being accepted? First of all, probably due to the self-interested adaptations made by specific rulers... Anyhow, in the current situation, a general unease can be perceived at a global scale, a confusing popular reaction that should be closely analysed and taken into account. How can the deep social unrest found in countries such as France be explained? And what is happening in several Latin American countries, especially in those most affected by the presence of "merchants"? Why are anti-system supporters proliferating in countries where a good system is urgently needed?

Today there are globally more visible “signs” to make us aware of how urgent it is not to miss again this new opportunity... But we need first to change ourselves, we citizens of the world who should not place our trust in algorithms, but rather in the distinctive faculties of human species, and sympathise, share, coexist... strive to make come true for our descendants and for all children of the world this possible future that cannot be further delayed because -for the first time in history- it has an expiry date.

Yes, indeed: up to now everything was based in the means of deterrence, in the elimination of the enemy: whoever had more soldiers, more weapons, more guns, more cannons, more bombers, more battleships, more long-range rockets... was the winner. As soon as a battle was over, everyone had to get ready for the next one. And this is how we have reached the current status quo where big corporations that produce sophisticated weapons and giants of digital technology have become the masters of the world. From a culture of war to a culture of peace. From force to word. From confrontation to mediation. Until very recently, there was an absolute male power. The past, unheard, silenced.  Either “the peoples” become aware that we are on the brink of an abyss and they react and implement worldwide the Paris Agreements and the 2030 Agenda, within the framework of the democratic multilateralism of the UN, or humanity as a whole will suffer the consequences affecting the quality of life on Earth, consequences that will be irreversible in some areas.

Irreversible environmental damage, deaths caused by hunger and extreme poverty, fires and other disasters, immigrants... These are the urgent issues that must be dealt with now, by means of a unanimous agreement at a worldwide scale, based on the overall awareness that it is an historical responsibility of our generation which must be assumed without further delay.

Glasgow is our last opportunity. Every Declaration of the "Summits", every Resolution of the United Nations, every Manifesto of the Club of Rome and other institutions in favour of a new concept of security and a culture of peace, has been ignored by a plutocratic governance that has not only acted irresponsibly with regards to future generations, but has also, with a great media hype, acted irresponsibly in the face of the future, and has for the first time in history turned citizens, who were capable of expressing themselves freely, into silent spectators of what is happening whether they disagree with its views or are fanatical followers of its delirium.

Nothing more can be expected from the richest countries on the Earth that are at the helm of our common destiny. The process of civic emancipation cannot be stopped. The greatest challenge both at an individual and collective scale is to transform our way of life. The world is entering a new era. I must insist that the immediate nuclear disarmament must be one of the first demands of citizen power. This was another great global Charter promoted by a huge clamour from citizens all over the world.

We must now move from having a Charter to implementing it. We have to yearn for better and not for "more", and the "asymmetric wealth" must be replaced by a freely chosen moderation shared by all. We must take action at once, with no further delays, especially when irreversible processes are at stake.

The time has come to take action all together: based on this conviction, and in order to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and UNESCO, the following organizations -Spanish Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations (FECU), Culture of Peace Foundation and DEMOSPAZ Institute of the Autonomous University of Madrid, and the Spanish National Commission for UNESCO Cooperation- have prepared a day-long celebration entitled "Society as the fundamental pillar towards peace", dedicated to the inalienable duty we all have, whatever our condition, ideology, beliefs..., always bearing in mind the generations to come. The event is supported by institutions such as the International Peace Bureau, the World Academy of Art and Science, the United Nations University of Peace, AIPAZ, the European Centre for Peace and Development, the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace...

The new era will not wait for mankind to be ready to face global threats. It is up to humanity to anticipate events and act accordingly.  Today citizens of the world are capable of organizing big demonstrations at a worldwide scale with a democratic multilateralism in favour of an economy based on knowledge and on a global and sustainable human development, by fulfilling the SDGs. Let nobody say that it isn’t possible. Today the main responsibility of all human beings is to make it clear to future generations that we behaved as we should given our astonishing intellectual faculties.

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Irresponsible plutocratic governance

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

 

The Earth’s habitability is dramatically deteriorating... and the richest and most powerful countries still continue to take actions in the wrong direction.

The neoliberal plutocratic governance has rejected democratic multilateralism, especially since the end of the 1980s. President Reagan created the G6 shortly after Nelson Mandela and Mikhail Gorbachev had built in a very short period of time new and unexpected furrows that were bound to contain the seeds of a new era, in which the reason of power would finally be replaced by the power of reason...

After a few years of containment, thanks to the presence of highly notorious European leaders, the G7 was created (adding Canada), then the G8 (adding the Russian Federation)... and, finally, with the 2007 financial crisis, the decision was taken to expand to 20 the number of countries “in command” -despite the fact that the United Nations included 193 countries!-. But as Prof. Juan Antonio Carrillo had already warned -with great lucidity and anticipation- regardless of the number placed after the letter G, the lead will always be in the hands of the United States whose Republican Party has rejected multilateralism since 1919 (League of Nations)... with the huge and extremely dangerous inconsistency represented by the fact that the President who created the League of Nations never belonged to it.

The increasingly urgent “warnings” from the international scientific community, concerning the global danger posed by a lifestyle that has harmful effects on the Earth’s habitability, have been quite numerous but also totally ignored. In the 1960s, the UNESCO -that had already founded the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the International Geological and Hydrological Programmes- placed special emphasis on the role of the oceans, and launched the major “Man and the Biosphere” Programme. In 1972, Aurelio Peccei founded the Club of Rome and introduced “the limits of growth” for consideration by all Member States.  In 1979, the United States Academy of Sciences warned that the CO2 emissions were not only increasing but also the recapturing capacity by the sea phytoplankton was decreasing. And silence was the general reaction. And the Exxon Mobile Foundation was created to de-emphasize this fact with the help of pseudo scientists.

In 1992, the Summit of the Earth took place in Rio Janeiro with the leadership of Maurice Strong, and the Agenda 21 was presented to the world. There was no reaction. Ten years later when the Charter of the Earth, which is an excellent guide for action at all levels, already existed since 2000, the Earth Summit was held in Johannesburg... However, the neoliberal governance continued to ignore the wise recommendations from the experts... up to 2015 when, thanks to Barack Obama, the Paris Agreements on Climate Change were signed, as well as the United Nations Resolution on the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

This sweet autumn break was followed by a cold and unusual winter with the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House: “I do not intend to implement neither the Paris Agreements nor the 2030 Agenda”. And the rest of the world remained silent, as also did the European Union, which used to be an example of democracy, human rights and solidarity...

We are now six years behind schedule, but during his term Joe Biden may achieve the tough transition to the new era, represented by the Anthropocene, if we all have the capacity -now that women and young people have a leading role- to put into practice the lessons learned during the COVID-19 confinement: the awareness that we will only be safe if everybody is safe; that global threats require globally agreed actions; that we cannot keep investing every day thousands of millions in weapons and military expenditure while thousands of human beings are dying of hunger and extreme poverty; that the supreme duty of current generations is to leave behind a habitable Earth for future generations, allowing them -despite the irreversible damage already caused- to keep under control the indispensable conditions of a dignified life; that, once they become aware of reality, “the peoples” will choose a lifestyle in compliance with the specific patterns that have been scientifically established.

If we want the cross-eyed and short-sighted people who still are in favour of a neoliberal governance to finally become reasonable and realize that the time has come for radical changes, it is imperative for citizens to become aware of what is really happening and stop being impassive witnesses to become active participants. Until just a few decades ago, “We the peoples” -as we were so brilliantly referred to at the beginning of the Charter of the United Nations- could not express ourselves. Now, thanks largely to digital technology, we have a voice of our own. And we are all equal in dignity, without distinction of any kind, such as gender, ethnicity, belief, ideology... We may now through public outcry, either in the streets or the cyberspace, express what must be done to avoid our intergenerational legacy from being a deteriorated habitability. Restating the words of the Charter of the United Nations in its first paragraph, we may finally proclaim that “We, the peoples, are determined to save succeeding generations from the horror of living under unhealthy and extreme conditions...”

News such as a temperature of 50 degrees centigrade in Canada and the northern region of the United States have a huge mobilising power; we must take action at once today, and swiftly an firmly implement  the SDGs, following the advice of the scientific community.

I remember how strongly we were warned about the risk entailed by the melting of the Arctic ocean, not only due to the permafrost “reflection“, but also to the release of methane which is much more harmful than CO2… The same media that say nothing today about the official visit of the UN Secretary General have remained silent or have given very little importance to the progressive disappearance of the Arctic or the presence of cracks in Antarctica... They do not want the excellent and pressing proposals of the Secretary General... nor the confidence in multilateralism expressed by the Prime Minister and Head of State to tarnish the exciting announcements of recovery, “normalization” and reinstatement of market-based governance. The UN has warned about a great heat wave... Let us, citizens of the world, remain aware, watchful and ready to take all required actions so that our descendants do not have to resort to this terrible sentence by Albert Camus which has had so much influence in my life: “I despise them because they could have done so much and dared so little”.

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With Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, now at last “We, the peoples“

Friday, April 30, 2021

    

“When you let critical moments

                                  pass by, it is later useless

                                  to run after them to try to catch them”


On 2 November 2008 I wrote an article entitled “I had a dream:  Obama, President of the United States!”... “I dreamed that Martin Luther King’s dream had come true. I dreamed that women and men, black and white, young and old could at last live peacefully in the United States thanks to a President whose skin was black... Obama represents change, a new paradigm, but also a new style, a new way of facing challenges, based on ethical values and democratic principles, with equal opportunities for everybody, and hope for everyone everyday... Obama, an Afro-American, a citizen of the world for worldwide citizens who are aware of the world village as a whole and not only of its wealthier areas...

As Maimonides said in his “Guide for the Perplexed”, we need someone at the head of the most powerful nation on Earth who commands respect and confidence, who has the ability and the tools needed to seize an historic opportunity for radical change, allowing subjects, both in the United States and throughout the world, to become citizens".

The dream was made true and, in times that were extremely difficult due to the global financial crisis, trends and perspectives in place during the neoliberal and plutocratic era of his predecessors experienced great changes.

He re-established relations with democratic multilateralism and, for the first time in many decades, listened carefully to the advice of the international scientific community, signing in autumn 2015 the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the UN General Assembly Resolution on the 2030 Agenda (Sustainable Development Goals) "To Transform our World".

As Lluis Bassets wrote only a few days after his appointment, “this is a new President for a radically new time”.

After so many unheeded appeals, after so many unfulfilled promises, President Obama’s legacy represented a true pause for hope: for the first time in history, human beings had become gradually aware of the need to join forces to be able to cope with potentially irreversible threats, and to do so based on the recognition of the equal dignity of all human beings and their capacity to express themselves freely, something that has been made possible to a large extent thanks to the new information and communication technology.

I have been repeating for years that it is unacceptable from every point of view that $4 billion dollars are spent every day on arms and military expenditure, while thousands of people, most of them children between the ages of one and five, are dying of hunger... The solution is clear: democratic multilateralism instead of plutocracy.

A refoundation of the United Nations System must be urgently done, starting with the General Assembly which should have 50% of State representatives and 50% of civil society representatives and institutions, with a weighted vote but no veto, and adding to the current Security Council a Socio-Economic Council and an Environmental Council.

A democratic... multilateralism! A genuine democracy at a local, national, regional and international scale. An ethical, social, political, economic and cultural democracy such as mentioned in the draft text of the Universal Declaration of Democracy[1], which was drawn up some years ago by Karel Vasak, Juan Antonio Carrillo Salcedo… and was subsequently signed, among other well-known personalities, by Mario Soares, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Boutros Boutros Ghali..... with the inclusion of nuances and suggestions made by prestigious experts on these matters.

I must insist and emphasize that the solution is democracy at a local and global scale: the voice of the peoples, of all peoples. This will allow us to reach the “intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind” proclaimed by the UNESCO Constitution, one of the most enlightening documents of the 20th century which begins as follows: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed”. Building peace through education provided to everyone throughout their whole life.

We’ve always lived within the context of the law of the strongest. ”If you want peace get ready for war” said an old and particularly perverse adage. We now have to make the transition from a culture of conflict to a culture of brotherly relations, as stated in article one of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I would like to emphasize that the past has already been written. The only thing we can do is to describe it and we must do it as accurately as possible.

But we must write all together the future still to come, still to be built, seeking inspiration in the great universal values, pleading for the dignity of all human beings and bearing always in mind that only if we remain united, joining our hands and voices, will we be able to face the manifold global challenges that are looming over humanity at the dawn of a new era, the anthropocene, which calls for audacious approaches and unprecedented responses.

The time for silence and submission is over. The duty to remember and to take action: implementation of the 2030 Agenda; immediate global agreement on the elimination of nuclear weapons; regulation of trafficking and consumption of illegal drugs; elimination of tax havens and plutocratic groups...; a new concept of "human" security; promoting science and the advice of those having the required expertise; reinforcing preventive measures, especially in the field of health; ensuring the independence of justice; education for all throughout life... in order to invent the future and, for the sake of our boundless resilience, never again accept impositions, dogmatism, supremacism... Every unique human being capable of creating, there lies our hope.

With Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at the helm of the White House, we must be ready to reconsider many assumptions in order “to change direction and embark on a new ship” as so wisely advised by José Luis Sampedro to young people during the 15-M, something we should keep in mind today. The first 100 days of governance leaded by President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris gives humanity the hope that was absolutely indispensable to trigger popular action at world level.

The reinstatement of Rosa Parks' image in the Oval Office is an excellent signal. With her generous and audacious attitude, that humble seamstress inspired Martin Luther King and triggered a huge mobilisation in favour of equal dignity.

At that time citizen participation was limited and required an on-site presence. Today a huge participation is possible in the cyberspace. Today, for the first time in history, “the peoples” may participate and democracy can have a new dimension at a global scale. “Free and responsible”, we must rise to the present circumstances. We can, we must. It is essential to dare... so that the generations that come within a step of ours do not utter those terrible words of Albert Camus, which impressed me so much, and which I have repeated so often: “We despise them because they could have done so much and dared so little”.


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[1] https://declaraciondemocracia.wordpress.com/ ”Día 15 de septiembre, Día Internacional de la Democracia”, blog 18 /09/2018 http://federicomayor.blogspot.com/2018/09/dia-15-de-septiembre-dia-internacional.html , y “Nosotros, los pueblos-Adopción de una Declaración Universal de la Democracia para entrar adecuadamente en la nueva era”, 9/10/2018 http://federicomayor.blogspot.com/2018/10/nosotros-los-pueblos.html