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Published On: Tue, Jun 26th, 2018

Reconnecting to Mother Earth

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By Nnimmo Bassey

Humans are rapidly losing a sense of being, of being human, of being just one of the beings among other beings on planet earth. Our inventiveness has radically changed our relationship with nature and we give little thought to actions which severely disrupt the right of mother earth to maintain her cycles. This disruption of our intimate relations with nature comes at a price and the cost keeps mounting. The fact that something must be done to correct this has brought us together here.
The maxim in today’s global political landscape appears to be that might is right. The rightness of that right may be contested, but the rise of unilateralism has rendered multilateralism almost cosmetic. The rise of prescriptive neo-liberalism couched in terms that suggest the respect of democratic ideals of liberty and fair competition has allowed an upsurge of military humanism in the world. The backdrop of this scenario has been appropriately captured as disaster capitalism – a situation where disasters are seen as opportunities to impose a pre-planned superstructure that inevitably denies powerless citizens of the world their rights. The whole idea is to hit the people so hard that they are pushed into a state of shock and while in that condition they are unable to react collectively or cogently to the harm being inflicted on them. Such disasters are increasingly man-made, although even natural disasters are equally exploited to dispossess the weak.
The path of the current petroleum civilisation is strewn with blood and skeletons across the world. The recent situation in Nigeria is a glaring example. Many wars have been fought and nations destroyed over nature’s gifts or resources. In 1999, as the first barrels of crude oil were shipped from Sudan, so did the war between government forces and those of the then Sudanese People’s Liberation Army escalate. While the bombs were still being dropped in Libya, oil was being exported. When Iraq was invaded and blown apart, the offices of the Petroleum Ministry were spared.
Everywhere there are conflicts and wars today we see the raw situation of war waged for profit and resource appropriation and control. If this scenario blossoms unchecked, what we experience today will end up being nothing more than a whimper.
There are also less openly explosive conflicts going on today in the world. The lack of climate action on the basis of justice and common but differentiated responsibilities show a tendency were more resilient nations care little about vulnerable ones, especially those set to go under the waves if sea levels continue to rise. We see the burden of climate action being placed on nature rather than being tackled by checking human consumption appetite and polluting actions. Efforts are being made to label forests as carbon sinks and to displace forest dependent communities in order to secure the carbon stock in the trees or soils or rivers. Market environmentalism elevates ecosystem services as the new and monetised way to see nature and our environment.
We cannot be silent over this posturing that permits business as usual and places the burden for this indulgence on the poor. We should denounce false climate solutions, such as plans for seizing the planetary thermostat through geoengineering. We cannot close our eyes to extreme genetic engineering procedures (including gene editing) that are bound to have grave and irreversible intergenerational implications.
The commodification of nature has done humans and other beings much harm. Our alienation from nature keeps us from seeing the intrinsic value of her gifts. The quest to appropriate, transform and accumulate resources has bred all manners of iniquitous social relations, oppressions and outright brigandage, be they in the form of petty exploitation or outright neocolonialism and imperialism.
We are here on common grounds. We are firm ground. We care about mother earth and all beings, knowing that she is constantly fighting for our survival. Time is running out, and we shall not indulge in long talks, but spend time sharing on the way forward on the urgent matters impacting mother earth and our lives as individuals and collectives.
Earth trusteeship demands that we reconnect to our roots, to nature and remind ourselves that the planet can do without humans and that our future can only be secured if we live in harmony with mother earth and in solidarity with one another.
This earth trusteeship gathering brings much hope. We may not agree on everything; we may not even have the same levels of intimacy with the earth, but one thing is clear: We are gathered as children of the earth. We are here on the common ground that we care about mother earth and all her children. We all realise that rapacious exploitation of the planet cannot continue on the current trajectory, except some clever guys can invent or have already invented and patented a Planet B. Together we can make a difference and get back on the track aligned with mother earth.
Nnimmo Bassey is an environmental activist and the founder of Health of Mother Earth Foundation.

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