A World Partnership for Ecopolitical Health and Security

The world in 2019 is in deep trouble. States still act in their own interest, scarcely paying attention to the evolving horrors of climate change, war, hunger, ecological impoverishment of the planet and rapidly growing population.

In such a precarious ecopolitical environment, we have the United States run by a president acting like a two-year old, always putting his personal and family profits above national and international interests.

Ecopolitical governance

An alternative to this madness would be for the US (after Trump), the European Union, Russia and China to create a genuine partnership for human survival and security. This arrangement would eclipse the military project of NATO and guarantee the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.

Such a move would dramatically cut military spending, showing that civilisation still matters. What if those saved vast sums of money, currently put to planning slaughter and destruction, could be put to peaceful use? Like jointly addressing the existential threat of climate change and the social and ecological problems unsettling the US, EU, Russia and China?

Imagine an ecological and political alliance between North America, Europe, Russia and China that gives birth to a World Environment Organisation for addressing climate change and the protection of human and environmental health. Imagine that nothing in international relations, including world trade, could take place if it caused ecological harm.

People would learn to respect nature as the very foundation of life on Earth. Imagine, furthermore, such an organisation funding substantive programs aimed at reversing the environmental decline of the planet, banning plastics, cleaning the plastic pollution of the seas, and, particularly, slowing down climate change, which threatens all life on Earth.

Such a task would be both daring and demanding because, as in the golden age of Greece, the human effort of the twenty-first century must be to invent a new science and a new politics to solve human problems, but without destroying the world.

Twentieth-century science and economic development (in the unitary capitalist models in use in the twenty-first century) are obsolete and dangerous: they have been tainted and moulded by the violence and fear of the nuclear bomb.

Factory farming

Industrialised agriculture is a paradigm of  the application of bomb-inspired science. It is a gigantic mechanical enterprise contemptible of the natural world. It is fuelled by Earth-warming petroleum. It has brought into being systems of death rather than life.

The immense one-crop plantations of agribusiness are artificial deserts that devastate biological diversity. The poisons that farmers spray over them control insects, diseases and grasses only as an afterthought. This is because these toxins are primarily political. They enable landowners or states to be sole masters of huge territories while, at the same time, emptying rural areas of small family farmers, peasants and indigenous people. They are a form of toxic chemistry for the preservation of political power in the world’s countryside. They are deleterious to both nature and people.

Agriculture constructed and infected by poisons is factory agriculture, an industrialisation of the very face of the Earth.

Industrialised farming rivals climate change in its global deleterious effects. It is converting everything to a machine. In the US, for example, it has abolished rural America, turning it into a colossal mechanised hybrid of plantation and state.

About 98 per cent of America’s food contains some toxins. In the state of Georgia, for example, not one farmer grows peaches without poisons.

Domesticated animals exist in high-tech factory environments that resemble sterile concentration camps. They house thousands of pigs, chicken and cattle, which are no longer animals but units of machinery. Nevertheless, confined animals emit huge amounts of greenhouse gases.

Agribusiness is also undoing food itself, scrambling the genetic stuff of corn and soybeans to bring all food and crops under the dominion of a handful of global corporations.

That is why we need to invent a new science that is tainted not so much with power but with ethics, ecology and civilisation. Aristotle argued that cataclysms repeatedly reduce human societies to a point where it is necessary to search in the rubble to rediscover human culture.

We are not yet the refugees of a global catastrophe, but we are headed in that direction. Industrialised agriculture is the first step in that decline and fall.

Slow down climate change

The invisible toxins of our industrialised culture are warming the planet, making it, slowly and in the near future, unfit for life. Alaska’s permafrost is thawing and massive chunks of ice are disintegrating in the Arctic. Amazon is burning.

It is probably impossible to stop entirely the warming of the Earth. But we can slow it down, diminishing its chronic cataclysmic effects by steadfastly eliminating and ending the use of fossil fuels and our onslaught on the planet.

Are we clever enough, but not moral enough to avoid committing suicide?

Yet there’s a way out of our current killer policies: first of all, solar and other forms of renewable energy suffice in replacing oil, coal, petroleum and nuclear power.

Second, nuclear bombs and other weapons of mass destruction are useless, unusable without provoking a holocaust. These are truly the ultimate biocides. They should be abolished.

Third, family farmers and peasants are willing to and capable of raising all the food we need, as long as we dismantle the monstrous agribusiness plantations and animal factories.

Expanding the variety of our food crops from the rich diversity of traditional agriculture will go a long way to improving our diet, and lessen the need to dam rivers for irrigation. Such a change of direction would give a new lease of life to millions of villages in the tropics while bringing back to rural Europe and America the culture, democracy and nutritious food of prosperous small family farmers and peasants.

If the US, EU, Russia and China sign on a version of this modest proposal, we boost ecopolitical civilization and human survival.

We need a World Environment Organization.

Evaggelos Vallianatos, Ph.D., studied history and biology at the University of Illinois; earned his Ph.D. in Greek and European history at the University of Wisconsin; did postdoctoral studies in the history of science at Harvard. He worked on Capitol Hill and the US EPA; taught at several universities and authored several books, including The Antikythera Mechanism: The Story Behind the Genius of the Greek Computer and its Demise.