In November of 1992, the Union of Concerned Scientists signed and released a warning and a plea to all of humanity to recognize that the Earth is in grave danger. Humans are overusing and abusing the natural resources that this beautiful planet has created without care or concern that at some point, without regulation and restraint, these resources will run out. Simply put, the Earth is finite and its ability to absorb the waste and toxicity that we put back in to it is also finite; and in every aspect of nature and the environment we are seeing signs, that are quickly growing in their severity, of the Earths diminishing capacity. I think the most important part of the entire warning is the finial paragraph, which states that there were 101 Nobel Prize winners among the hundreds of prominent scientists who signed the warning; that brings validity to the warning, the problems and the solutions that are presented. With this same idea of trying to bring validity and recognition to the harm humans are causing the environment, some prominent scientists are trying to get the term Anthropocene, “an informal geologic chronological term that marks the evidence and extent of human activities that have had a significant global impact on the Earth’s ecosystems,” added to the Geological Time Scale. Finally, some scientists and scholars such as, Thomas Berry, believe that we are entering a period on Earth in which humans and their behavior is guided by an ideal that we are to work as one globally community and will act in a mutually enhancing manner with the Earth. This period is titled the Ecozoic Era and is replacing the Cenozoic Era, which has lasted 65 million years.
All of these readings work well together, starting with the 1992 warning right up to Thomas Berry’s idea of a new Ecozoic Era, especially the way in which they address solutions to the growing issues. The idea of a global society working together in a manner that is helpful to each other as well as the environment is not an outrageous idea. We are in a period of history where most of the major actors in the world are abiding by a post-Westphalian mindset; meaning we no longer abide by the Westphalian ideas of sovereignty and every country is on its own and has the right to do whatever it wants to do. Rather, we recognize that we have a duty to help those in less developed countries and oppressive countries. While the ideals of a post- Westphalian world may be more tied to politics, its application to the Environment, especially the idea of a new Ecozoic Era, is certainly there.
Another interesting point was brought up by the Union of Concerned Scientists on how the global community is wasting its monetary resources on war. In their astute opinion, it will take a new attitude and a great reduction in war and violence on this earth so that these resources can be diverted to the global effort to save this planet from the destruction we have caused. Ideally, this would be the case; we as a global society could put aside our differences, for the most part, and move to greatly reduce war and violence but I don’t see this as being a realistic goal or possibility. However, I do see the military as one of the most efficient and effective systems ever put in place, which could actually be used in a small way to reach our goals of sustainability. For example, the United Nations has set sustainability as one of its millennium goals and they keep this in mind with everything that they do. In its Infantry Battalion Manual (UNIBAM), which is a guide for the planning and conduct of a UN mandated mission, an environmental policy and framework is also given. Therefore, if the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces (and the United Nations as a whole), which operates internationally, can put in place an environmental policy then the national militaries around the world should be able to follow in their footsteps. With this in mind, maybe the military will not be a complete waste of resources as the Scientists saw it to be. I think war is a natural state for humankind and while we may be able to reduce it we are not going to be able to eliminate it. Therefore, I think we have a responsibility to make that best of a bad situation (or at least not make it any worse) just as the UN advocates for in implementing an environmental policy protocol for its troops.
A lot of the discussion on sustainability happens on a global scale because it will take a true global effort to fix the problems that we have caused. However, the only way to start this global movement is on the singular level. I myself live in manner that if everyone else lived the same it would take 7.1 planet Earths to provide enough resources. I think its hard not to look at that fact and wonder what I can do to reduce my footprint. There are things, such as mobility, that I can’t help. I can’t help the fact that I travel a lot both in cars and in airplanes for softball. However, knowing that I can’t do anything to reduce my footprint in that capacity I should take steps in other areas such as services and shelter to offset the effects that mobility has on my footprint. If everyone were to think, and even more importantly act, in this manner I think we would make great strides as a global society in reducing our footprint and move in the right direction towards sustainability.
Question: Can we truly consider moving in to a new ecological time period (Ecozoic Era) when it has never been broadly recognized or made official that we are or ever were in the Anthropocene?