All is not yet lost

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What kind of world do we live in? In a world in crisis, certainly. Sixth extinction, climate change, unprecedented land use change, disruption of the phosphorus and nitrogen cycles, ocean acidification: 4 out of 10 planetary limits exceeded, almost 5. Exceeding these limits that regulate the stability of the biosphere leads us into an unknown state of the Earth-system that we fear will not be conducive to agriculture, humanity, or even life. But the term « crisis » is anxiety-provoking: it is preferred to the term « transition » which provides an illusion of planning and management. The transition evokes a change without violence or revolution. This is a myth, of course. But « positive ». Are we living in a world in transition? It depends. In energy or agricultural transition: on a global scale, not really, even if some initiatives exist. In digital transition: yes, and consequently far from the objectives of energy decrease and ecological management of non-renewable resources. The transition movement also gives pride of place to the « inner transition », the one that advocates shared governance, the « connection » to the living, the deconstruction of our cultural models of oppression, destruction, and domination over nature, over animals and over part of humanity. Is this cultural transition underway? Although there are thoughts and initiatives in this direction, it would be wrong to say so. 

And while destructive solutions claim to solve the problem of peak oil (coal and liquefied gas, tar sands and shales, agrofuels…), equally destructive solutions claim to mitigate the climate threat (carbon exchanges, nuclear energy with an unparalleled potential for annihilation, environmental compensation on land grabbed at the expense of local populations, geoengineering…). 

The real question is this: a reduction in energy consumption is inevitable; so is a reduction in growth, because the two are linked. How then can we anticipate degrowth without increasing inequalities and without major conflicts? The question is insoluble in a competitive economy based on growth where each actor will try to monopolize the most resources in order to stay in the race. 

What about the political transition? Here we are, for sure! And for those who thought they were in a democracy, the disappointment is cruel. The political domination of a network of economic actors is no longer a conspiratorial fantasy. Rockfeller said:  » Something has to replace government, and corporations seem to me the right entity to do it . It’s done. The European Union is in the pay of the lobbies. The scientists, in search of funding, are silent. The media serves the state or interest groups. Whistleblowers are threatened with life in prison. The protesters are seen as extremists. Disinherited people join mafia networks to survive. Privileged people prefer to continue to get fat and swallow the official propaganda: the greenwashing of « green » innovations, the self-interested « charity » à la COVAX, the Chinese-style « solidarity » morality ready to make a clean sweep of fundamental rights and democracy. Worse: a majority of the Western adult population demands from its children the sacrifice of their youth, their social life, their mental health, their education, their ideals, their vital impulse, and even their physical integrity: cannon fodder! This is the world we live in. A world where inequalities are increasing, where undernourishment and water stress are on the rise. While some dream of space conquest, of total surveillance, of eternal life, half-ciborgs, half-GMOs, monopolize land, water, seeds, concentrate wealth, weapons, technologies, food to establish authoritarian regimes. 

A world where, however, all is not yet lost if the political imagination is put at the service of a more human ideal: education, re-invention of autonomy, re-localization, permaculture, social struggles, reinforced democracy, law, re-creation of common goods, inclusion, solidarity, fundamental rights, ecological vision can be the weapons of those ready to rebuild a future for youth. 

Valérie Tilman, philosopher 

Lara Pérez Duenas
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