While we celebrate the Season of Creation (September 2 – October 4), the recent ecological disasters in the different parts of the world ranging from landslides and mudslides in Cambodia, the USA (California and New York) and Sierra-Leone and floods in India, Bangladesh and Nepal to the most recent hurricanes ravaging the coastlines of the USA and the Caribbean Islands once more call out to humanity to listen to the protesting groans of the earth and the cry of the poor. The options are slim: the global community must review her relationship with the ecosystem or be prepared to sink with the outcomes of the logical consequences of that refusal.

Through different forms of interaction with the biophysical environment, the unbridled and insatiable human economic quest, powered by the capitalist economic models of continuous growth and consumption, has upset the balance of the ecosystem. The Industrial Revolution has triggered off many dormant and hitherto unexperienced reactions. The result is an avalanche of tremors, hurricanes, earthquakes and floods of the magnitudes that call for a collective response and a rethinking of how we have been relating with the ecosystem. The season of creation urgently demands a new kind of relationship with the earth that leaves our ecosystem more sustainable.

An ecosystem is a complex web of relationships and it is sustainable – when there is synergy within the system or fluctuations within an acceptable range; when the species diversity and population levels of the organisms remain relatively constant; when the habitat diversity and connections are sufficient to allow organisms to carry out their life cycles and when toxic materials are not accumulating in the soil, air or water. However, studies have shown that human activities which make the earth a repository of raw materials have brought about major changes in the different components of the ecosystem beyond the acceptable limits and now threaten the survival of the entire ecosystem. Among many others, there is the increasing and disproportionate depletion of natural resources, an increasing rate of fossil fuel consumption and Carbon IV oxide in the atmosphere. These have produced a wide range of imbalance in the geochemical composition of the ecosystem and upset the global climate. In the same vein, the use of artificial fertilizer and pesticides in the industrial agriculture is largely responsible for the upset of the N, P, C, S, and K[1] of the ecosystem and has contributed immensely to the bio-accumulation of these elements in animal tissues.

We have no better choice now than to rethink the gospels or rather some of the lies of the present economic model and a misguided technology. Technology is not a just a branch of science shedding light on human ignorance about creation. It is rather a branch of science that demonstrates the human ability to develop and use the knowledge and principles of the empirical sciences to force their wills on creation in order to satisfy human bottomless desires. Technology has always been part of human history. However, the difference in the 20th-century civilization lies in the fact that the gap between the empirical sciences (knowing) and technology (making) has narrowed down so that a dangerous stance that promises to satisfy every human dream and intention is created. Consequently, both the economic model of continuous growth and consumption and technology choke and impede reflections on the protection of the ecosystem. Instead, they are used to reinforce the attitudes and values that view creation as a limitless resource. The real tragedy is that, in spite of the visible ecological down turns, the likes of President Trump are still living in denial of the negative consequences of our present economic models that plunder the resources of the earth and the limits of technology.

AEFJN invites the global community to a radical commitment to new relationships with the biophysical environment and socioeconomic systems that are sustainable. More than any ethical prescriptions, what will be most helpful in resolving our present ecological crisis will invariably involve personal responsibility and accountability because any solution suggested will impinge directly on the personal values, character, lifestyle and actions of the individuals and institutions. The measures must recognize the intrinsic value of every creature and embrace the values of simplicity, frugality and moderation. These values serve as buffers against the human mindset of continuous wanting and needing with a firm promise that technology will satisfy them. These values teach us to live with gratitude and know that all that glitters is not gold. It is a truism to state that the problem of treating the earth as a socio-ecological system lies in the domain of the “socio” which is the sphere of human social and economic activities. It is still not beyond remedy!

Chika Onyejiuwa

[1] These are symbols representing chemical elements. N=Nitrogen; P=Phosphorus; C=Carbon; S=Sulphur; K=Potassium