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Life – Consciousness

autumn-forestThat there should be a transition from the sustainability of civilisation to the sustainability of the environment seems exceptionally obvious to the contemporary scientific community and to public opinion. However, beneath the 'obvious', there are many aspects of the issues of the sustainability of civilisation and of the environment which need to be brought to the surface so that there can be an effective approach to the great wager, to the great challenge of the future.

To begin with, the survival of civilisation is connected with values; it is connected with the values of humanism, of the Enlightenment, the values of the liberal democracy of the modern world, the values of the welfare state, as well as the values of the spirit and of the progressive tradition and heritage. The survival of civilisation is regulated by the body of values, but also by infrastructures and functions – regulatory and voluntary.
For civilisation, the whole of technological and economic production operates as a part of its infrastructures, as does the system of management of the economic and the political product.
These infrastructures - political, economic, and social in connection with civilisation - must be able to function, and this poses conditions and economic and political objectives.
At the same time, the functions of modern man and of society are a field of a body of civilisation and messages for the multifaceted and multi-themed cultural development of mankind.
The survival, then, of civilisation presupposes economic survival and sustainable development. It presupposes sustainable functions and sustainable management at a social, political, and economic level. It presupposes living - and not museum - values.
Similarly, the survival of the environment and of nature means a concurrence of economic development with the bearing capacity of nature and of the ecosystem, a sustainable management which fulfils the aims of the uncoupling of prosperity from the exhaustion of the environment and the ecosystem, from the degradation of natural resources and their scarcity, to which degradation contributes.

In other words, and given the existence of the anthropogenic dynamic in this, the survival of the environment presupposes the existence of an environment, of nature, biodiversity, natural resources, and ecosystems which are not damaged by anthropogenic intervention. On the other hand, it presupposes that anthropogenic intervention, where it exists, should be controlled, restricted, and compatible with the bearing capacity of nature, without structurally impairing it, without exposing it to dangers, to risks of mutation and destruction.

The relativity of our knowledge of the complexity of nature is a given. And in the light of this, we must restrain scientific and technological arrogance, the pre-empting of developments with certainties, which we can be sure will be overturned in the future.

Between civilisation and the environment, our self-knowledge, an understanding of our limitations, a state of 'learnt ignorance', as it is termed in philosophy, must be interpolated.
Through this sense of proportion we shall regulate the factor of knowledge and its functioning in relation with nature and the sustainability of the environment, but, at the same time, there will also be an added cultural value for man himself and for society.

The acceptance of the reality of 'learnt ignorance' functions as a creative factor for the sustainability of civilisation. At the same time, the recognition of the regime of protection in areas of nature, and the recognition of the regime of regulation in accordance with the demands of sustainable development where the man-made and the natural system are intertwined are a cultural acquis and also bring with them added values functionally in their field, but also in that of the infrastructures of civilisation. Thus it can be seen how the two sustainabilities intercommunicate and have a shared future, and - why not? - a shared past, given that civilisation and the environment have always been bound up with one another.

The acknowledgement of this solidarity and reciprocity between civilisation and the environment lies, chiefly, in a scientific and political understanding of the fact that neither economic prosperity nor quality of life is gained in the absence of quality of the environment and of its protection and without this these are not sustainable. The quality and the protection of the environment are conditions for the quality of life. They are conditions for our health, but they are also terms for our choices as consumers. They are also a prerequisite for the sustainability of environmental and natural resources in the future, in the continuation of the economy and of civilisation.

Given a choice between a momentary and a lasting satisfaction, it is plain that a sensible consumer will choose the latter. But, precisely because there is this corporate responsibility of the generations, or, rather, the fundamental responsibility of the generations for the continuation of life and of civilisation, for the right of everyone to well-being, and because the environment is shared by all the generations as a good and as a life resource, it is obvious that continuity, duration, and sustainability in its management must come as a choice. Thus the survival of the environment is also a condition for the survival of civilisation.

Extract Ioannis Zisis's book Green Turning-Point - Volume Two: Green Ecological Civilisation, Environment, and Culture [in Greek].

Photo from wikimedia

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