Sustainability and Peaceful Coexistence for the Anthropocene (Foreword)
Transnational Law and Governance, gLAWcal Book Series, Routledge Publishing (New-York/London), ISBN 978-1-1386-3427-5, May 2017, pp. XIII-XVII.
21 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2017
Date Written: November 12, 2016
The topic of ‘Anthopocene’ is part of a larger narrative, which is shedding light on the underpinnings of the problem: human beings and their value systems. The concept of ‘narrative’ is crucial in this regard. Narratives convey certain values, translate complex rational or irrational theories and policies into comprehensible forms, and contribute to their acceptance by public at large. The narrative of constant growth, never-ending economic and technological progress, and dominance of humans over nature is slowly confronted with its limitations. According to Vaclav Havel, it is a paradox: humans in the age of science and technology believe they are improving their lives by mastering the laws of nature and exploiting nature. However, it is the contrary: it is these natural laws that prevail over humans and will penalize them for wrongdoing. Humans wanted to conquer nature, and as a result they destroyed it. A change of the narrative is inevitably needed: Civilization needs to be based on a revived and recreated responsibility of the humankind, respecting the boundaries of the natural world. The narratives of science need to serve this cause as well, otherwise, even the bold visions of Elon Musk and other visionaries of colonizing Mars would only be escapes from the primary task of humans, which is taking over the responsibility for our lives and lives of future generations on the planet.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has referred to climate change as ‘a change in the state of the climate that can be identified by changes in the mean and/or variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. It refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity.’ The wording is slightly different from the one used by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which refers to climate change as ‘a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and that is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.’ What is important to note here is that IPCC is more cautious than UNFCCC in terms of blaming humans for climate change. This chapter briefly examines these theoretical aspects and its impact in the international negotiations.
Keywords: Sustainability, Climate Change, Environment, Earth, Nature, Human Beings, Anthropocene, Peaceful Coexistence, Geology, Neo-liberalism
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation