Protecting Civilization and Life on Earth


The world in 2023 is in deep trouble. The United States and other countries act as if they care less about the future. They scarcely pay attention to the evolving horrors of climate change, ecological impoverishment of the planet, and rapidly growing population, which is surpassing 8 billion humans. Should most of these people ever reach the “lifestyle” of privileged Europeans and North Americans, it would be necessary to have several Earth-like planets to supply the materials and water and food of the entire human population.

Ecopolitical governance

I have spoken before of the need of an international institution to bring order to the current chaos in international relations. People cannot go on increasing their numbers. If religions are behind this prolific multiplication of the human species, take away the tax privileges of those religions. Unchecked burning of fossil fuels will kill us and all life on Earth. I dreamed this world institution might put some sense of urgency in the brains of world leaders before it’s too late. I called that institution World Environment Organization, WEO.

The mission of such a global environment institution would be to protect life on Earth. It should bring world resources and scientific and technological talent for the protection of biological diversity on land, rivers, lakes, seas, and oceans. In addition, WEO should protect the Earth and its people and their civilization from rapid and dangerous population growth and climate change and toxic chemicals and pollution.

It would be to the interest of all states to support this organization, but its main political sponsors should be the European Union, the United States, Russia, China, and India. It just happens that these powerful states have large populations and are the worst offenders of the global environment. They emit the overwhelming amounts of greenhouse gases warming the planet and causing the dreadful climate chaos afflicting the Earth. If the existing climate emergency brings them together to face a common climate enemy, humanity has a chance to at least tone down the ferocity of the climate onslaught and resulting chaos.

Such a potential political partnership for human survival and security would transform international relations from wrestling to dancing. Time for geostrategic competition is over. We must cooperate to end wars and preserve peace. At a time when the Earth is on fire lighted by humans, there’s no need for superpowers showing off their nuclear muscles.

WEO should bring the war in Ukraine to an end and dissolve NATO that caused the war. President Joe Biden must admit he erred in arming Ukraine. And just like Mikhail Gorbachev abolished the military alliances of the Soviet Union / Russia in the late 1980s, Biden can do the same thing with NATO. Biden also needs to abandon his Cold War against China. Taiwan is a Chinese island. Let China and Taiwan resolve their differences. Stop arming Taiwan.

The European Union can take care of its own defence. Even without the United Kingdom, it’s probably the strongest economic and technological powerhouse on Earth. Small states would no longer be afraid of being invaded by larger enemies. EU, the US, China, India, and Russia would guarantee international borders and peace. Russia would also feel secure to stop its war against Ukraine.

If the WEO came into being, there would be a dramatic decline in military spending, showing that civilisation matters. What if those saved vast sums of money, currently put to fighting wars and 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, China, India and the rest of the world? Imagine an ecological and political alliance between North America, Europe, Russia, India, and China that materializes the mission of the World Environment Organisation for diminishing the threats of 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. That’s what ecological civilization is all about.

Imagine such an organisation funding substantive program 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. This 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 of the nuclear bomb and the chemicals-depended one-crop agriculture.

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. It threatens and destroys ecological civilization. Its immense one-crop plantations are artificial deserts that devastate insects, birds, and wildlife. Plantations annihilate biological diversity. They are copies of feudalism, enslaving farm workers, grabbing (for example, in the United States) more than 80 percent of the drinking water, and producing food tainted by carcinogenic and neurotoxic chemicals. In other words, this form of farming poisons both the natural world and humans eating its crops.

The poisons that farmers spray over crops 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.

Animal farms make up the top of the pyramid of agribusiness. In the United States, they are feeding about 9 billion of frightened and abused domesticated animals fattened for slaughter. Domesticated animals exist in high-tech factories resembling sterile concentration camps. They house thousands of pigs, chicken, and cattle.

These animals live their short lives in extremely crowded conditions resembling sardine cans. Animal farms are filthy, generating diseases, which the owners try to control by adding antibiotic drugs to the feed they give the animals.

The large quantities of urine and excrement from the penned animals give off ammonia, methane, and viruses, some of which become pandemics. Moreover, these wastes are not treated for toxicity and deseases. Farmers spread some on land and hold the rest in lagoons. When it rains or a storm causes flooding, these toxic and pathogenic wastes end up in groundwater, rivers, lakes, and the seas where they cause ecological devastations like the dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico.

Industrialised farming is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change. It also rivals climate change in its global deleterious effects. It is converting everything to a machine.

In the US, agribusiness has abolished rural America, turning it into a colossal, mechanised plantation with enormous powers. Agribusiness is also employing genetic engineering in undoing food itself, scrambling the genetic stuff of corn and soybeans and other crops to bring all food and crops under the dominion of a handful of global corporations. That is why we need to embrace agroecology, a science that is not tainted by the nuclear bomb and the political power of billionaires. Agroecology merges traditional agricultural knowledge with the latest discoveries of ecology. Ethics and ecological civilisation are the context of agroecology.

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. Climate change follows in the footsteps of giant farming.

Slow down climate change

Extracting and burning petroleum, natural gas, and coal are responsible for greenhouse gases causing climate change. These invisible toxins of our industrialised culture are warming the planet, making it slowly unfit for life. Alaska’s permafrost is thawing. The Arctic is releasing “enormous” amounts of methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas causing climate chaos. Massive chunks of ice on mountains and seas, including the Arctic, are disintegrating. President Joe Biden accelerated that destructive process with his approval, in March 2023, of oil extraction from the Arctic of Alaska. Fires are destroying forests, including the Amazon. Storms are threatening cities and farming. Heat waves are changing the chemistry and temperature of the seas. This change is becoming inimical to fish and aquatic life. Commercial overfishing adds more stress on already overstressed life in the seas and oceans.

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. We also must end 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, solar and other forms of renewable energy suffice in replacing oil, coal, petroleum and nuclear power.

Second, organic family farmers and peasants are willing to and capable of raising all the food we need, if only 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 on life to millions of villages while bringing back the culture, democracy and nutritious food of prosperous small family farmers and peasants.

If the US, EU, Russia, China, and India sign on a version of this modest proposal, we boost ecopolitical civilization and human survival. We really need a World Environment Organization to set the world in order and harmony between humans and wildlife. Half of all the waters and land of the planet should be set aside for wildlife and biological diversity. One-child per family is necessary to reduce the exploding population. I urge the EU, US, India, Russia, and China to embrace this idea for a better, more peaceful, and safer and healthier world of ecological civilization.

Evaggelos Vallianatos is a historian and environmental strategist, who worked at the US Environmental Protection Agency for 25 years. He is the author of seven books, including the latest book, The Antikythera Mechanism.