All economies are fundamentally based on the exploitation of the Earth and its resources, which are not infinite. The most important oil companies constitute less and less transparent and more powerful economies (the case of Enrico Mattei teaches), more powerful than the States in which they are active. The global system creates increasingly refined media structures that are the result of psychological studies that mainly aim at manipulating our thinking in order to frustrate our free will. As Franz Broswimmer (Research Specialist at the Globalisation Research Center, Hawai University)1 says, in the world we are increasingly fuelling an ecological suicide, an ecocide. Our environment is undergoing irreversible transformations. The world's forests have halved in recent years. Now it is as if we are breathing with just one lung. The Amazonian forest is practically disappearing and desertification is growing everywhere, even in countries in temperate zones that considered themselves immune to this degradation. In the Po Valley (Italy), as an example, the land is only used to physically grow the crops of wheat, corn, rye, etc.,thanks only to herbicides and fertilizers. In Africa, precisely in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the illegal timber turnover is 150 billion (not millions!) dollars per year, almost more than the illegal trade in hard drugs in the world. In this African state, 13 million hectares of equatorial forest disappear every year, more than four times the surface area of Belgium.
The human population in the world is rising dramatically. If we think that a country like Bangladesh which is a little bigger than Iceland and has a population of about 200 million inhabitants and that in a few decades the population of Nigeria will outnumber that of Europe, how long can we go on? Certainly not for long. In 1800 there were just over 500 million people in the world, now there are 7.8 billion, with a population increase of 80 thousand people per year.
It's been about twenty years since Broswimmer, but not only him, for example, the American economist Jeremy Rifkin, who, among other things, wrote a book with the same title as Broswimmer wrote a book called, Ecocide2. He wasn't the only one as the American economist Jeremy Rifkin (2) also wrote a book with the same title, warning us with alarming data, but so far no serious action has reversed the trend. But who knows Broswimmer or Rifkin? The scientists probably do, but what about the rest of humanity? The fact is that if we want to have any more hope, we need to know who Broswimmer and Rifkin are, forgetting about everyone else. In practice, this is unfortunately impossible, because the media hammer us every day with news, often false or rehashed, which does not help us to understand the seriousness of the moment. The Coronavirus is bringing us back down to earth; it makes us understand our fragility, but when it passes, and sooner or later it will pass, we will forget everything in an instant.
Another fact that we overlook but which has a major impact on everything that is happening in the world is the irresponsibility of the people in charge who are chosen not according to their abilities, but according to their superficiality and mediocrity. Skilled and intelligent men or women are not wanted in leading places, in politically important places. This can be seen in every institutional apparatus, in Governments, Parliaments, multinationals, the UN, the World Health Organisation, etc. They prefer Yes-men, especially if they are good at hiding their mediocrity with words. At the head of health organisations and scientific medical and pharmacological research, sometimes there are men who can barely distinguish a bacterium from a virus! How is this possible? We are told that to be the head of a healthcare organisation, whether public or private, it is not necessary to be a qualified doctor or biologist but a good manager.
Then there is the widespread rejection, among other things, of science, the obviously free and independent science now reduced to a small light, which is fuelled by the false idea that in democracy ignorance is worth as much as knowledge. In fact, even the ignorant vote! The fact is that ignorance cannot be put on the same level as knowledge, especially when knowledge is used to deceive others, in defiance of the fundamental principles of equality and freedom.
Returning to extinction, in a few decades, when all the glaciers of the Arctic, and not only that, will melt and the sea level will rise by 6 meters, and then when an infinity of coastal cities disappear, we will understand the consequences of our reckless behaviour towards our planet. Moreover, since we humans are always thinking about the consequences of our superficiality in the short term, it will be too late to repent.
To tell the truth, we have been shown what we can do to change course, even though we are probably out of time. We knew this a long time before many scientists suggested it, i.e. reducing CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, reducing greenhouse gases, keeping the earth's temperature below 2 °C, reducing pollution, stopping deforestation and so on. We often hear these things from the media and other sources, but the truth is that those who have the power to do something do nothing, because they have an interest in doing nothing. Many heads of state, certainly Donald Trump, on 16 December 2019, who were present at the UN at Greta Thunberg's conference "You stole my childhood" on climate, actually laughed under their breath at her very heartfelt words. With these assumptions we will not go very far.
The disappearance of non-human Primates
Millions of hectares of tropical forest disappear before our eyes and with it many animal species disappear, and what is more serious, many species of monkeys disappear.
According to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), 70% of Asian monkeys and 30% of African ones are endangered. About forty species of monkeys live in Africa, including the Gorilla and the Common Chimpanzee. The Orangutan lives in Asia, Indonesia and Malaysia, but it is also endangered.
In Africa, in the last 30 years, 200,000 km2 of forest have been taken from the Gorilla. Just to have an idea of what has happened, Italy extends to 334 thousand km2. After 2022, in Africa you will no longer be able to see another species of chimpanzee, the Dwarf Chimpanzee or Bonobo and perhaps even the Common Chimpanzee. We will no longer see even the shadow of Colobi, Galagoni and many other species of monkeys. Another reason why monkeys in Africa are on the verge of extinction is that they are often suppressed for food purposes, a more serious phenomenon than that caused by deforestation. People kill monkeys to eat them and the most serious fact is that they also kill those that are already in serious danger of extinction. When hunger grows disproportionately among people, it means that there is something seriously wrong with the system.
Unfortunately, the wisdom of the past is on the verge of extinction, also because great men no longer emerge. The reason has already been explained when we spoke of mediocrity in power. Then wisdom always works in the long term, and men never have the patience to wait. If animals disappear because of our behaviour, we do not think that we should change course, but we shrug. Gandhi, who, by chance, like many other great people of the past, was assassinated one day told one of his interlocutors, that animals, besides not hurting anyone, live a simple but free life, go hungry and they live a simple and free life in comparison to humans where there is a greater distinction between rich and poor people. These differences exist only in men. This is true, but why worry about the disappearance of monkeys and not, for example, the anteater? It is right that the anteater survives like all other animal species, but the answer is that monkeys are non-human primates, just as we humans are human primates and that if one day they should no longer exist we would lose that fundamental bond, which has always existed, between us and the rest of the animal world3,4.
1 Broswimmer, F. 2002. Ecocide. London, Pluto Press (tr.it. Ecocidio. Roma, Carocci Editore, 2005).
2 Rifkin, J. 1992. Beyond beef: The rise and fall of the cattle culture. London, Penguin Random House (tr.it. Ecocidio: ascesa e caduta della cultura della carne. Milano, Mondadori Editore, 2001).
3 Tartabini, A. 2008. Il mondo in bilico. Milano, Mursia Editore.
4 Tartabini, A. 2013. Uomini e scimmie in pericolo. Milano, Mursia Editore.