The Ecological and Social Footprint: A Challenge for Global Citizenship

javier collado ruano, china, yangshou

Javier Collado-Ruano in the dramatic karst mountain landscape of Yangshuo County, China’s Guangxi region.

versión castellano

         From the transdisciplinary perspective of the Big History, the Earth is a self-eco-organized system structured through sophisticated processes of co-evolution between living and non-living organisms. Life made its appearance on our planet between 3,8 and 3,5 billion years ago. During the first half of this period, firstborn forms of life on Earth maintained very simple levels of complexity, but the appearance of free oxygen in the atmosphere led to the first complex cells 2 billion years ago: the eukaryotic cells.

         The Cambrian explosion of metazoans occurred about 1,5 billion years later, around 542 million years before present day. Since then, biological variety has been increasing at high speed, forming a wide range of multicellular organisms that developed the survival strategies with very particular energy flows, such as the food chain. It seems that life arose in the depths of the oceans and from there, it conquered the land for about 450 million years ago. Only 250 million years after life reached the earth’s surface emerged, the first warm-blooded animals appeared, as for example the dinosaurs of the Jurassic period, that disappeared 66 million years ago due to a supposed asteroid impact on Earth.

         This circumstance gave rise to the hegemonic period of mammals, where the first bipedal hominids emerged around 7 million years ago. Thanks to carbon-14 proof from fossil remains found, we have an an approximate way of dating early Australopithecus, which appeared about 4 million years ago. The Homo Habilis date back to 2.5 million years ago, the Homo Erectus to 2 million years ago, and Homo Neardenthalis and Homo Sapiens, 200,000 years ago.

         During all this time, natural ecosystems have developed in co-evolution, but 250 years ago, with the development and industrialization models imposed by the West on the world, anthropogenic action is causing a major ecological and social footprint, hence the urgency to formulate international policies that circumscribe human economic activities within the biophysical limits of Mother Earth. Reaching an ongoing process of planetary sustainability involves regulating the current globalization market and undertaking actions of a “green economy” from a biomimetic perspective that merges the processes of sustainable development of ecosystems into human socio-economic activities.

         The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) lead by the United Nations by 2030 are demanding similar human cooperation whereby there is an exchange of natural systems in their cyclical processes of energy and material resources. Despite the violence and predatory actions between different forms of life in nature, these patterns are distinguished from human economic artifacts for their ability to cooperate and co-evolve in unison. The appearance of the first eukaryotic cells, around 2 billion years ago, are a clear example of symbio-genetic association between two kinds of prokaryotes that can inspire us to create another possible world. “Another world is possible” when there is cooperation between human communities across the globe to lead a transnational, cosmopolitan, and sustainable community with the environment.

         With this, we are talking about a co-evolution where all global citizens learn to work together to transform the destructive dynamics of economic globalization and so a better world can flourish that pays attention to the needs of poor people. To do this, we must face the challenge of climatic change and ecological sustainability and do away with epistemic principles of competition, expansion, and domination imposed by globalizing structures of capitalism: creating a paradigmatic epistemic framework characterized by cooperation, environmental conservation, and human association. By following a biomimetic path, this pattern of eco-systemic organization will bring us towards the maximization of sustainability, making a new world with a much smaller ecological and social footprint possible. An interconnected voluntary action of global citizenship is the key to achieving the SDGs. Why are we waiting? Now is the time to change our consumption habits and stop destroying the biodiversity of nature and our planet.

Javier Collado Ruano

Director of Edition

This article was published on 5th December 2015, for the International VolunteerDay at Global Education Magazine.

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