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21 July 2014

Green Societies: the Key to Resilience, Sustainability and Adaptation

Estimated reading time Time 2 to read

Some time ago I had the opportunity to read “The Revenge of Gaia“, a controversial book that I believe reveals many truths about the current state of our planet and its intrinsic relationship with the human species. While I do not share all of the opinions laid out in the book, James Lovelock, a prestigious author and scientist, lays out a journey that takes unforeseen directions, in a work that seeks to shake up society and open its eyes to what is happening.

What Lovelock writes is simply corroboration of what many seminars, research papers and projects have already found: the planet cannot bear any more human pressure. The irreversible damage that we are causing to the environment is becoming more and more of a concern, as Earth increasingly struggles to function properly.

Our collective attitude to the environment is senseless. Our errors must be corrected, but for this to happen there must first be reconciliation between man and nature. We must truly understand that natural resources are not ours to do with as we please; we are not their custodians, owners or administrators. We are the intelligent elite among Earth’s animals, and yet we have failed to leave Gaia in peace.

Now the question is, can we address and adapt to a world with an intolerant population, changing climate and a latent enemy in fossil fuels?

We find ourselves confronted by an unprecedented climate threat. Climate change is already causing global chaos. The alarm is sounding! Many of the world’s nations are already suffering the terrible consequences of poor environmental, social and political management.

Our fossil fuel dependency, consumerism and social inequality have been (and unfortunately will remain for many more years) the Achilles heel of a perfect planet inhabited by imperfect societies. The human race cannot go on feeding irrational and unfettered economic growth based on the “retrograde” production of the industrial revolution.

As Christopher Field said in a recent interview, “the action we take on climate change will have a decisive impact on the kind of environment and economy that we leave to our descendants”.

In time the entire world will have to “pay” the true cost of the energy that we use, the climate change it is causing, the subsequent loss of biodiversity, our fossil fuel dependency and the environmental illiteracy that sustains it.

However, we must earnestly draw attention to local initiatives among communities concerned by the stress that we are causing both to the planet and society, which represent a focal point of hope in the world. These communities are responsible for driving real positive change to our existing lifestyles, via initiatives such as reforestation, waste collection, education and getting community members involved in political and citizen programs that seek to protect natural resources.

It is therefore critically important that information and expertise be transferred to such communities, which are playing a central role in establishing friendlier relations with the environment, and everything that these encompass, including services ecosystems and natural resources.

It is time to prioritize the conservation of natural resources around the world, replacing the current emphasis on unsustainable growth. It is time to acknowledge that the future of nations will be decided by how they act now and their holism with the environment.

Resilience, sustainability and adaptation: these are essential to new development and growth models, going well beyond green societies…


Maria Eugenia Rinaudo

B.S., Environmental Studies and a Specialist in Environmental Management

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