Action for Planet Earth – input sought for a draft global call


With the COVID-19 pandemic now forcefully reminding the human family of our closeness, connectivity and interdependence, the Palestinian scientist and author, Mazin Qumsiyeh, has issued an appeal to the world. Mazin is the Director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History and a prominent environmentalist. Below is Mazin’s call and we all strongly urge readers to engage in and contribute to the urgently-needed creation of a kinder, more rational world:

A (draft) global call from Palestine Action for the Planet

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World War Two transformed our planet in ways not foreseen before, including creating instruments like the United Nations ostensibly to stop wars and conflict and encourage co-operation across borders. Yet, we have had many wars and economic blockades and inequality that killed tens of millions of people since 1945. A large part of this had to do with the flawed system created:

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the dominance of five nations at the UN,

the presumption that challenges in 1945 are the same as our challenges decades later, and

the hegemony of the United States thought to be more benevolent than others as a policeman of the world (including the use of the US dollar in global trade and reserve currency even after the US dropped the Bretton Woods agreement in 1971). The IMF and World Bank instruments also drifted to become tools of hegemony and control.

This system, whether one thinks it worked for a while or not, is clearly unsustainable in the 2020s and beyond – era of global challenges like climate change and pandemics. The COVID-19 crisis showed clearly that we cannot continue in this system of supposed “growth” in certain national economies via rampant uncontrolled capitalism and hegemony of rich individuals or corporations who can and do usurp democracy via mass media. The rich thus got richer and the poor poorer even in supposed rich countries. This old system is threatening our collective survival as a species and has a direct negative impact on our planet. The global climate crisis and increased frequency of pandemics in an interconnected world highlight the need for a new global system of sustainable human and natural communities. To do this, we humans of all backgrounds, living throughout this planet must work together to create new paradigms and systems. We collectively make this urgent call to restructure, not just to face this COVID-19 crisis, but to face climate change and future global challenges.

Boldly, we demand and will work towards these objectives:

1) This programme, when developed with the widest participation of professionals and the general public, will build on the excellent UN Sustainable Development Goals and other conventions such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights having the aim of sustainability and survival of our species and our fragile ecosystems.

2) Measuring development by GDP or the averaged PPP (GDP per person averaged at a national level) is a misleading approach and ignores human needs. We demand that governments do not burden future generations with debt and illusion of growth that is profiting few at the expense of the many. The earth has plenty of resources and production to keep all of us healthy and well fed when we reset our priorities towards: social services (elderly, those in need), agriculture (especially permaculture), health, education and research (technological advances that help sustainability). Currently much of the world’s economy is spent on the military, wars, and a “security” in general (increasingly militarised police) and much unneeded infrastructure that destroys our planet. Even a small fraction of what a country like the US spends annually on military would be enough to cure hunger that kills tens of thousands every year that is properly (food) “security”.

3) We must abandon our consumerist ways by living simply and humbly and reducing our footprints on this earth. We aim for zero-waste, for using renewable energy, for growing our own food in our own communities, and for cleaner, and healthier environment for all of us (humans, fauna, flora).

4) We can choose to respond to crises without giving up on our liberties. History has shown that national authorities remove our liberties in crises and they rarely return them in full. To address this, citizens must vote directly on certain issues and all measures must expire and, if need be, renewed in reasonable dates via vote of citizens.

5) Nationalism as a political organisational structure has run its course and, like other systems before it (city-states, kingdoms and empires) must now evolve into a new system to face new realities of global threats. The nature of a new system needs significant thinking, but it is clear that to respond to an increasingly global crisis (climate change and pandemics) we have to have both local empowerment and global systems of joint struggle and solidarity. A corollary of this is that certain natural resources like the Amazon rainforest and oceans must be protected as a planetary resource, and not left to the whims of national systems that can shift quickly for greed and imperialism. Thus, we must strengthen local communities, particularly native people. Corollary is that we must limit national authority and create new systems that challenge colonialism, racism, sexism and exploitation.

6) Reduce, Recycle, Refuse Refuse. Reduce our use of water (e.g. via compost toilets, proper water management, etc) and of material and supplies (living humbly). Reduce solid wastes, plastics, and fossil fuels (towards final elimination). Recycle what cannot be eliminated. But most significantly refuse the urge to shop (consumerism).

7) Increase vegetation (preferably with native trees and bushes) globally.

8) Deal with human overpopulation (including family counselling, reducing unwanted pregnancies etc).

9) Reconnect to nature and learn from it. Ecosystem balance must be restored and we humans must recognise ourselves as part of nature and we must live in harmony with nature.

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  1. Thank you TDB for printing this.

    We’ve met Mazin and his wife Jesse , in Beit Sahour (‘where shepherds watched their flocks at night’) , near Bethlehem, where he lives. He is both a distinguished academic and a very warm , kind humanitarian.
    I hope readers will share this article widely. We need to share and discuss its expression of much needed wisdom and love.

  2. The item number 8 is unsustainable. Growth has been a problem for nearly 200 years. Growth has to stop and reverse. We need to restore the planet as much as possible.

    No mention of human population reduction which is an urgent key issue deliberately ignored but a fundamental destroyer of environment and our survival chances.

    To hell with church dogma which had in many communities driven over population. More to put cash into church coffers.

    Food is a problem that is not being recognised.
    We have robbed the oceans, cut down the forests and planted crops to feed animals many humans eat as well as commercial scale crops which are killing the soil.

    Honeyed words will not remedy the dire situation we face.

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