Human's Dominant Relation to Earth Is a Violent, Closed Fist: Alternative Nobel Winner Leonardo Boff


A coda to the news from earlier in the day that environmental degradation and pollution in China in 2008 totaled about 4% of GDP for that year: Tierramérica is running an interview with Leonardo Boff, theologian, environmentalist and a professor at Brazil's State University of Rio de Janeiro. Boff was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, known popularly as the Green or Alternative Nobel Price, in 2001. The whole interview is worth a read (it's quick), but this excerpt from the middle is what I find particularly worth highlighting:Boff comments on Bolivia's actions at COP16, where it stood alone in opposing the agreement:

Bolivia supports the thesis that the Earth is "Panchamama," a living organism that must be respected are cared for, not just exploited. It stands in opposition to the dominant vision, which is set in the framework of the economy: Selling carbon credits, for example, means granting the right to pollute.

The dominant societies see the Earth as a chest of resources that can be used indefinitely, although now they have to be utilized in a sustainable way, because they are scarce. They don't recognize the dignity and rights of natural beings, they see them as means of production and their relation based on utility. These are issues that do not enter into the discussions at Cancún or any other COP.

And his words on the idea that continuous economic growth is necessary for development:

Growth by what means? Exploiting nature? It is precisely that type of growth and development that could lead us to the abyss, because we humans are consuming 30% more than what the Earth can replace. [...] The problem is the relation of the human being with the Earth, because it is a violent relationship, a closed fist. As long as we fail to change this, we are headed for the worst. And this time there is no Noah's Ark. Either we save ourselves of we all perish.

Read the entire interview: Tierramérica
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More on the Right Livelihood Award:
Friends of the Earth's Nnimmo Bassey Wins 2010 Right Livelihood Award
David Suzuki Wins 'Alternative Nobel' From Right Livelihood Foundation

Tags: Awards | Economics | Environmental Justice