The Lack of a New Vision in Rio+20

Leonardo Boff

The fundamental defect in the UN's document for Rio+20 is the total absence of a new vision or new cosmology that would create the hope of the «future that we want», the motto of the great gathering. As such, it belies a promising future.

Leonardo Boff

To those who drafted it, the future depends on the economy. There is little value in the adjectives they attach to it: sustainable or green. The green economy in particular constitutes a great assault on the last bastion of nature: transforming into merchandise and putting a price on everything that is common, natural, vital and indispensable to life, such water, the soil, fertility, jungles, genes, etcetera. That which pertains to life is sacred and must not be passed to the sphere of business. Instead, it becomes part of the market place, under the categorical imperative: take all you want, make business with everything, especially with nature and with her goods and services.

This is the supreme egocentrism and arrogance of the human being, or, as it is also called, anthropocentrism. Human beings see the Earth as a warehouse of resources only for them, without realizing that we are not the only ones who inhabit the Earth, nor do we own her; we do not feel that we are part of nature, but outside and above her, as her «lords and masters». We forget, however, that there exists a whole visible community of life (5% of the biosphere) and quadrillions of quadrillions of invisible microorganisms (95%) that guarantee the vitality and fecundity of the Earth. They all belong to the Earth/condominium and have the right to live and coexist with us. Without interdependent relationships with them, we could not even exist. The Rio+20 document does not take any of this into account. We can then safely say that with that document there is no salvation. It opens a path towards the abyss. So long as we have time, it is urgent that we avoid it.

Our present vision or cosmology is one of conquering the world and of unlimited growth. It is characterized by being mechanical, deterministic, atomized and reductionist. Thanks to that vision, 20% of the world population controls and consumes 80% of all the natural resources, half of the great jungles have been destroyed, 65% of available arable lands ruined, 27,000 to 100,000 species of living beings disappear each year (Wilson) and more than 1,000 synthetic chemical agents, mostly toxic, are being released into nature. We build weapons of mass destruction, capable of eliminating all human life. The final effect is the dis-equilibrium of the Earth-system, as seen in global warming. With the gasses already accumulated, by 2035 we are destined to see a rise of 3-4° C, that will make life as we know it practically impossible.

The present economic-financial crisis, that is plunging whole nations into misery, obscures the danger and works against any needed change of course.

On the other hand, there has appeared the potentially redeeming vision or cosmology of caring and universal responsibility. It is best expressed in The Earthcharter. It places our reality within the cosmogenic, that immense process of evolution that began some 13.7 billion years ago. The universe is expanding, self-organizing, and continuously self-creating. In the universe everything is related through networks, and nothing exists outside these relationships. That is why all beings are inter-dependent and must cooperate among themselves to guarantee the equilibrium of all factors. The human mission resides in caring and maintaining that symphonic harmony. We need to produce not for private accumulation and enrichment, but what is enough and decent for all, respecting the limits and cycles of nature.

Behind all beings throbs the background Energy that gave origin to and sustains the universe, allowing new emergences. The most spectacular of all is the living Earth and human beings, the conscious part of the Earth, with the mission of caring and of being responsible for her.

This new vision would guarantee the «future that we want». Otherwise, we will inevitably be pushed into collective chaos, with disastrous consequences. This vision is inspiring. Instead of making business with nature, we put ourselves in her womb, in profound harmony and synergy, respecting her limits and seeking the «good living», that is the harmony with all and with Mother Earth. This new cosmology is characterized by caring rather than domination, and by the recognition of the intrinsic value of all beings and not its mere utilization by man, by respect for all life and for the rights of nature instead of her exploitation, and by the marriage of ecological and social justice.

This vision is more in tune with real human needs and with the logic of the universe itself. If the Rio +20 document were to adopt it as background, it would create the opportunity of a planetary civilization, in which caring, cooperation, love, respect, joy and spirituality would be central. Such an option would lead not to the abyss but towards the future that we want: a real hope for a bio-civilization.

Fuente: Leonardo Boff .com