How to answer a question by a student from Mozambique, related to my book Human: Instructions for Use: “What do you thinking about the current world in the context of conservation? To what extent is your thought addressed in the book relevant in the context of the Culture and Economy of Natural Resource Management?”
Here is my reply:
As conservation fits into a broader context, I encourage you to read this article on my blog.
In the middle of it, you’ll see four points put forward by Charles Eisenstein. I agree with him about the sequence of priorities. The entire article may be relevant to your second question too.
In my book, I don’t focus on nature and resources directly, I focus on the human being, on the modifier of nature. Biology conservation, in my opinion, begins with the human species.
I believe that natural human beings need as much conservation as any other natural phenomenon or species. That’s a subjective, intimate process and it requires cultural and religious deprogramming.
In essence: the way you look at the world determines how you treat the world.
Knowledge is threefold: 1. innate, 2. technical, 3. moral. (This is an entire chapter in my other book.)
In our educational system, we almost exclusively focus on technical knowledge; even scientific disciplines that study human beings and put limits to our technology are very technical (think about medicine, psychology, sociology, law, ecology, politics …). In all those disciplines technical knowledge dominates.
My book is mostly about innate knowledge; I take an extracultural position (outside of culture – like in the word “extraterrestrial”). Based on what a human-animal is, I suggest ethics (conscious behavior choices) that preserve innate human nature and put adequate boundaries to the application of technology. The sequence of application is: innate knowledge, moral knowledge, technical knowledge.
If you look at genetic engineering, you’ll see how messed up this can be — we have the capacity to change genes with CRISPR technology and that’s the focus on science. Our moral code is 1000-2000 years old and it commands us to suppress our innate humanness and be solely cultural beings. The way we set limits to our own behaviors needs a huge step forward!
I highly respect your professor Carlos Serra for his dedication to the ethics of nature to protect it from human digressive behaviors. Technical knowledge has gone amok and it needs modern moral and legal boundaries, I think the best way to get there is through conscious cultural evolution.
Sometimes I call this: coming back to geocentrism. Heliocentrism (as a symbol of a scientific paradigm shift) has distanced us from the very planet that’s our only home. So, in order to give it adequate care and attention, we have to “come back to Earth” — this doesn’t mean, of course, we have to force the universe to revolve around the Earth, it just means we realize that the Earth is our standing point to look at the atom and at the universe — and at ourselves.
In the economic sense, that means internalizing all externalities and not allowing collateral damage of the so-called development. The first priority of economy is life on Earth, then comes everything else.
These are, of course, far fetched utopias within our current cultural and economic worldview, but I think we’ll force ourselves into such culture exactly by not changing our ways consciously.
Our global civilization is young, essentially a teenager, it has to learn on its own from experience, both good and bad. I hope we learn soon and I hope the future for you, the next generation, will be a rich experience on this planet. Not because of big houses, fancy phones, and fast cars, but because of diverse floura and fauna, clear skies, healthy food, cristal clear water … I hope that you, young people, having time to enjoy all that instead of having to work 15 hours in jobs that estrange you from those essential habits that make you human.