The appeal signed by personalities from the world of culture, science and ecology (http://www.greenreport.it/news/aree-protette-e-biodiversita/una-preghiera-civile-per-la-giornata-mondiale-della-terra-mai-piu-come-prima/ – DeepL translation)
The epidemic caused by the new SARS-CoV-2 virus, with its tragic burden of death and misery, serves as a lesson.
The Earth is a living macrorganism in which everything is kept: biology, ecology, economy, social, legal and political institutions. The health of each individual is interconnected and dependent on the good functioning of the life cycles of the planet.
The succession of new and terrible diseases, more and more frequent and virulent (Ebola, HIV, swine and avian flu, canker sores, yellow fever, dengue, just to mention the most known) are the consequence of the alteration of the delicate natural balances existing between the different living species and their relative habitats. The felling and burning of tropical forests, the consumption of virgin soil, mining, hunting and wildlife consumption, the concentration of animal husbandry, super-intensive agriculture, urban overcrowding and the continuous displacement of goods and people are the primary causes of pandemics. As one careful observer of pathogenic microorganisms had written unheard: „Where trees are cut down and wildlife is killed, local germs are flying around like dust rising from the rubble“ (David Quammen, Spillover, 2012).
There is no „invisible enemy“, much less an unexpected and unknown one that has declared war on mankind. No „natural catastrophe“ and no „God’s punishment“ have descended upon us. On the contrary, it is the dominant economic system that causes a progressive deterioration of ecological systems, the mass extinction of living species, the overheating of the climate. All this increases the risks, vulnerability and lowers the immune defences of individuals. The rhetoric about the sacrifices needed (starting with those faced by doctors and nurses, often left without even the most basic personal protective equipment) is not enough to cover the collapse of the health system. The underestimation of the phenomena in progress, the unpreparedness and incompetence of public institutions at every level – where the neo-liberal model has prevailed – have weakened the social-healthcare garrisons with definitions and privatizations. The corporatization of services has gone in the opposite direction to a territorial medicine. In particular, in Italy we have had to note an excessive number of deaths, high contagions recorded among health workers, inadequate equipment, lack of stocks of protective equipment, lack of quarantine facilities, inadequate diagnostic and therapeutic protocols and the lack of an emergency and prevention plan in case of epidemic diseases.
To mask these failures – as if they were inevitable – many media, politicians and even health managers have chosen to recount their commitment to contain the coronavirus pandemic using war terminology: „battles“, „weapons“, „trenches“, „enemy“. The language of medicine, on the other hand, is expressed with words of care and peace, not war. Of psychophysical health, of relief from suffering, of respect for human dignity. Real wars, those that serve to hoard the lands and resources of the planet, whose violence falls on the weakest part of the civilian population, unfortunately continue to be financed (think of the construction of F35 bombers and U-212 submarines), prepared and implemented in many parts of the world causing irreparable destruction to the environment and large forced displacement of populations. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said: „The fury of the virus shows the madness of war. That is why I call for a world ceasefire“.
The effects of the lockdown on the globalized economy will lead to an unprecedented crisis with catastrophic effects especially in the most peripheral countries (left without orders), in the poorest classes (left without income), among the precarious (left without work), among women mothers (left without networks and services), among girls and boys. Pandemics do not know class differences, but they have repercussions, accentuating even more inequalities and social injustices. It will not be enough to flood the world with a shower of money „in debt“ to get out of it. It will be necessary for that money to actually serve to initiate a profound ecological and solidarity-based conversion of the productive apparatus and consumer behaviour.
Health is a global common good. As human beings we are part of nature. We exist with each other, in connection with each other. Every organic and inorganic component, from microorganisms to humans, contributes to forming a single complex system that maintains the conditions of life on Earth. Each one of us depends on the air he breathes, the food he feeds on, the type of energy he uses to move, warm himself and communicate, the social organization in which he is inserted. We are part of the bio-geo-physical and energetic universe.
2020 is the year dedicated by the UN to biodiversity. According to the latest report of the European Environment Agency, about 75% of the earth’s environment and over 60% of the marine environment are seriously altered. In addition, as the Report notes: „The acceleration of climate change is likely to be associated with increased risks, particularly for vulnerable groups. 2020 is the year of the Paris Climate Agreement review, but the planned Cop 26 in Glasgow has been postponed until next year. Five years have already passed since the UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda and many of the targets set for 2020 within its 17 macro targets have been grossly missed. Five years have also passed since the publication of the encyclical Laudato yes, but its message for an integral ecology has been ignored.
We can no longer pretend not to see. The normality of the post-coronavirus world cannot be the same as before. Everything and immediately must change direction, measurement parameters, reference values. We don’t want to be silent witnesses. Never before has it become clear that if we wanted to learn anything from the tragedy of the pandemic, we would have to transform the dominant socio-economic system at its root in the direction of a just and sustainable world society. Let us hope that Earth Day on 22 April will be a time to come out of the emergency, to reunite our affections, to symbolically embrace relatives with their deceased loved ones, to express the condolences of the whole community, to thank those who have taken enormous risks in caring for the sick and, for all and sundry, to make a new beginning in our commitment to the pandemic:
To return at least 50% of the soil and marine areas to natural dynamism;
protect and promote biodiversity and respect for all living species;
Reducing climate-altering emissions now;
Immediately stop all ongoing wars, reconvert war production and free resources for the defence of health;
Contain, track and control the extraction of virgin materials from underground (fossil fuels, metals, other minerals);
Stop intensive livestock farming, agrobusiness and promote peasant agriculture;
strengthen research, prevention, treatment and community medicine;
Systematically apply the precautionary principle to technological changes that produce pollution or manipulate the autonomy and personal privacy on which democracy is based;
Recognise the subjectivity of women, the right to security also in the family, economic independence and self-determination in reproductive choices (the only real response to population growth);
Recognise the power of local communities to decide their own destinies and respect the knowledge and forms of existence of indigenous peoples;
Promoting common goods and social practices of community management of social and environmental resources of a territory with ways and forms that guarantee integration and solidarity between national, continental and planetary civil communities;
Immediate recognition of civil rights and access to health services and welfare for all foreign citizens who are, for whatever reason, in Italy or in an EU country;
To put the care of life before the laws of the market by protecting care work;
Ensuring working conditions and safety for all workers and female workers;
Launch urgent and structural measures to guarantee every person a basic income for a decent life;
Changing lifestyles, consumption and production while respecting the Earth and all its human and non-human inhabitants;
To guarantee the rights of all girls and boys as representatives of future generations.
This pandemic has deeply touched our lives. We place life and care for life at the centre.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)