By Federico Mayor Zaragoza*
“… Everything is still possible… but who if not all of us can make it become true?”. Miquel Martí i Pol
Having a deep knowledge of potentially irreversible processes, I’ve pointed out a long time ago the great challenges humanity must face and try to tackle with a democratic multilateralism that will prevent us from reaching points of no return. Only then shall we be able to start a new era where the power of reason will prevail against the power of force, and weapons shall be replaced by words, thus allowing us to assume our unavoidable intergenerational responsibilities.
It would be a historical and irreparable mistake not to do everything possible so that the legacy of the Anthropocene is not a seriously deteriorated standard of life, with totally inefficient governance systems entrusted to plutocratic groups consisting of 6, 7, 8 or 20 countries, under whose cover lies the worldwide hegemony that has always been pursued by United States Republican Party.
In their address to the UN General Assembly in autumn 2018, Presidents Macron and Sánchez made it clear how urgent it is to reinforce multilateralism.
As a scientist, I insist that it is essential to have a deep knowledge of reality to be able to transform it deeply if needed. Otherwise superficial and biased information and appraisals will continue to convey to the public a distorted image of facts and, therefore, a distorted image of the actions that must be taken.
Had it not been for Mosul and its oil, would Iraq have been invaded on the fallacious grounds of the possession of “weapons of mass destruction”? Why does Bengazi matters much more than Tripoli in the case of Libya? Would there have been such an obstinate interest in attacking Iran were it not for the fact that it owns, together with Venezuela, the best oil wells? If Venezuela had not such fantastic oil reserves… would the big consortia placed under the leadership of Trump have paid so much attention to this country?
For the time being, Trump has already managed to achieve a historical record in military expenditure. Everybody accepts obediently and submissively the intentions of the magnate who, at the same time, proclaims that he will not implement neither Paris Agreements on Climate Change -whose signature was made possible thanks to the relevant role played by his predecessor President Obama- nor the Sustainable Development Goals approved by the UN General Assembly in December 2015 in order to “transform the world”.
The five priorities set by United Nations to ensure a dignified life -food, water, health, environment, education- that should be the rationale for development aid for the poorest countries have no value for plutocratic groups (G7, G8, G20) who were entrusted in the eighties by President Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to take control of our common destiny, while United Nations System was excluded from this endeavour.
The worst thing that is happening today is the trivialization of the irreversibility of processes that can have an irretrievable effect on the Earth’s habitability. Since UNESCO created in 1947 the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and then launched the Geological, Hydrological, Oceanographic Plans…there has been the great programme “Man and the Biosphere”…; and in 1942 Aurelio Peccei, founder of the Club of Rome, warned about the “limits of growth”; and in 1979 United States National Academy of Sciences informed that -apart from the dangerous increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses emissions- what is even worse is that the oceans recapture capacity was decreasing significantly.
The general public has always received a much greater number of false than true data, the reason being -and this is another big issue that should be urgently tackled- that most media speak with “their master’s voice”. They are in the payroll of the most powerful consortia that have gradually annihilated the response capacity of a drifting civilization. This is a consequence, as can be seen in the European Union, of money having replaced the invulnerable values and “democratic principles” established in the UNESCO Constitution.
Faced with the triple challenge of climate change and the biosphere’s deterioration, extreme poverty and nuclear threat, which all require the immediate implementation of a new concept of security and labour, a new lifestyle, we are living purposeless and without a path to follow. Instead of promoting the search for balanced alternatives, instead of having each day a largest number of responsible citizens who are the actors of their own destiny rather than mere impassive spectators of events… instead of raising our voice through a big popular clamour, now that we can freely express ourselves… we are easily intimidated, dazzled, and we walk aimlessly. It is clear that the biggest problem humanity must face is not the difference but rather indifference, not the recognition of the equal dignity of all human beings but rather supremacism and racism.
It will be up to “We, the peoples”, as we are so wisely referred to at the beginning of the Charter of the United Nations, to take over. At last women will get on the stand on an equal footing…; at last young people will become aware of their responsibility regarding the quality of the intergenerational legacy, and will take firm action so that measures are implemented to prevent humanity from socially collapsing and to avoid the deterioration of the quality of life.
This popular mobilization must be led by the academic, scientific, artistic and literary communities, that is by intellectuals who are aware of the fact that tomorrow might be too late.
Every unique human being capable of creating, there lies our hope: the future must be invented, by overcoming both inertia and outdated formulas.
To be able to straighten the many crooked paths, at this crucial time, it is indispensable to transform the global governance. In previous papers I have summarized the proposals that have recently been made for the refoundation of United Nations, and I have also mentioned the urgent need for a Universal Declaration of Democracy[i] -ethical, social, political, economic, cultural and international democracy- capable of promoting the full exercise by all citizens of the rights they are inherently entitled to. It is worthwhile stressing in this respect the interesting and timely proposal known as San Francisco Promise that was made public in 6 November 2018 and which lays the foundations that should allow us to convert the Charter into a Constitution of the United Nations, with all functional and structural reforms that would be necessary.
“You will have to change direction and embark on a new ship”, said José Luis Sampedro to the young generations. Let’s now speedily follow his advice.07.05.19.
*Spanish scientist, scholar, politician, diplomat and poet. President of the International Commission against the Death Penalty. Chairman of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace. He served as Director-General of UNESCO from 1987 to 1999. Article sent to Other News by the author’s office, on May 21, 2019.