Not Only Global Climate Change!

Por: Raul Montenegro

Humanity Faces 10 Main Global Threats, Among Them Global Biodiversity Change and Global Human Lifestyles' Changes.

Humanity is gradually realizing that the planet is becoming increasingly inhospitable to human beings as a direct and indirect result of human activities. However, this late perception is falling into a very characteristic trap of our species, the simplification of excessive complex realities. Today it seems that Global Climate Change is the leading protagonist of the environmental crisis, and that other global changes are less important. This can be as dangerous as minimizing the obvious severity of Global Climate Change. It happens that we do not face a single critical change but several chained global changes whose components we usually analyze separately.

Global Climate Change is a serious threat? Yes.

This is the most serious problem of humanity and the planet? From our point of view the answer is clearly "no". 

First of all we need to make a clear distinction between hazards "for the humanity" and hazards "for the biosphere" of the planet.


1. Threats vis-à-vis the biosphere

Biosphere is the neologism introduced by physicist Vladimir Vernadsky and geologist Eduard Suess during the 19th century. All variation of life since viruses to big mammals and their populations make up the biosphere. Under some extreme and absolute limits such tiny layer of the planet is an adaptive layer. In the last 600 million years we suffered five main spasms of extinctions (cf. Wilson, 1992). "Biodiversity" (not a specific species) survived to each of such cataclysms which were most likely produced by mega volcanic activities (flood basalt events) and a asteroid crash. After each cataclysm the remnant biodiversity, that is, those survivors by chance, and those species and ecosystems best adapted to cataclysm and post cataclysm times, constructed new formats of biodiversity (cf. Sahney & Benton, 2008; Sole, Montoya & Erwin, 2002). In fact mammals and particularly human species are the result of the last spasm of extinctions that happened 66 millions years ago (Cretaceous-Paleogene) in an area today considered as the "Caribbean sea".

Most of big non-avian dinosaurs entered in collapse, and mammals faced an open way for their own evolutionary possibility. We are "sons and daughters" of the complex of global changes that happened after the asteroid crash –the Cretaceous Chicxulub asteroid impact- which probably induced acidification of oceans, climate change and ecological collapse (cf. Henehan et al., 2018).

The current and tiny biosphere of the planet is "suffering"? Yes, like in previous spasms of extinctions. The entire planet faces extreme dangers? Possibly not. After the innovative sixth spasm of extinctions "fueled" by humans' cultures, new patterns of biodiversity will be developed by the remnant biodiversity. Of course, the cost will be the extinction of tens of thousands of species which were adapted to Earth "before" the dissemination of humans. Future life will be in danger? The answer is "no".

An interesting fact is that the future biodiversity, once Homo sapiens have disappeared, will be strongly influenced by the changes and the garbage that our species has accumulated in the ecosphere. The radioactive waste of the foolish nuclear option and the approximately 10 million chemicals "created"  (synthesized) by humans (cf. PNUMA, 1992) will surely influence the new evolutionary pathways.

The tiny layer of Earth's life with its multiple ecosystems and living species will survive meanwhile cosmic and internal conditions permit such biodiversity and ecodiversity. Currently the great majority of Earth's life depends of Sun evolution. Nevertheless there are rare oceanic micro ecosystems which are no Sundependent. But in massive terms the end of the Sun (currently a yellow dwarf, a Gstar) will be the end of Earth's life. Such cataclysm will eventually occur in about 5,000 millions years from now.

We are talking about terrestrial biodiversity better defined ecologically by the term ecosphere (biodiversity plus ecodiversity). However our planet is not only biosphere and ecosphere. The Earth is a massive and multilayer planet. Below oceans and continents –the so called crust, where biosphere unfolds- there are a mobile mantle with a thickness of 2,900 kilometers, and a hot core with a thickness of 3,478 kilometers. The planet is not in immediate danger as planet. As we told before life is a surface phenomenon, a tiny layer of life, atmosphere, soils, waters and geomorphology (oceanic crust + continental crust). Human civilizations remain irrelevant for the mega structures and processes of the planet, which includes continental drift, big earthquakes and volcanism. 

What we call Guatemala will disappear –at least in the form we know to day- when the Coco tectonic plate has been introduced much further under the Caribbean plate. Of course, by then our species will have ceased to exist. In the known universe all structures are formed, develop and transform, including stars, planets, mountains, species of ants and even human empires that seemed eternal. Scientifically speaking few human words are as unreal and pretentious as "eternity". No species can survive for ever. But if the species are a failed experiment, as ours is apparently, the species itself can accelerate its extinction.

2. Threats vis-à-vis human species


One of the most successful human species (Homo sapiens) started his evolutionary possibility in Africa 200,000 years ago. New discoveries support an older origin after the discovery of older fossils in Morocco, 300,000 years old (cf. Hublin et al., 2017), but for our purpose we can talk of around 200,000 years of human evolution, that is, more or less 5,000 human generations.

Ethiopia in Africa (his current geographical equivalent) was the place were H. sapiens lived more time, and southern Argentina and Chile is the region of the world (excluding extreme Polar areas) where H. sapiens lived less time (near 12,000-18,000 years BP, cf. Moreno et al., 2019; Politis, Gutierrez & Scabuzzo, 2014). We must remember that H. sapiens shared different regions of the planet with at least 5 other Homo species. All of them, except us, disappeared.  According Y. N. Harari one of such species, Homo erectus, has a record of survival "impossible to match" by our species, 2 million years (Harari, 2016).

During most of "our" human time we were hunters and gatherers. Our species drastically changed his ecological role when "we" invented agriculture in seven independent sites of the planet (2 of them in the Americas), in average 10,000 years ago (MacNeish, 1967, 1971; Meggers, 1971; Testart, 1982; Lavallée, 2000; Michelet, 2000; Schvanitz, 2006; Montenegro, 2007).

Such invention fueled several and independent urban revolutions which in turn favored other cultural revolutions, particularly in the last millennium but more intensively since the 18th Century. Main cultural "fuels" of such changes were oral and written languages, science, external memories, education, technology, weapons, fossil fuels, electricity and transfer of information through analog and digital formats. All them in a context of mass production and consumerism, increased the size of human ecological niches (Montenegro, 1982). On average, each new human generation consumes more energy, materials, goods and information per capita that any previous generation. Simultaneously, the number of poor people, inequality, lacks of justice, violence and environmental impacts grows in each new generation. Even slavery -a pathological and cruel form of dominationcontemporarily remains. Countries with higher prevalence of slavery are India, with 18.0-22.0 million slaves; Pakistan 2.5-3.5 million; Brazil 300,000-500,000; China 250,000-500,000; Mauritania 250,000-300,000; Nepal 250,000-300,000; USA 100,000-150,000, and Haiti, with 75,000-150,000 slaves (Bales, 2002).

"Growth" is and continues to be the key word of humanity but without adapting to the environment and to our influential genetically transmitted basic behaviors (e.g. territoriality, aggression, social dominance, sexuality) (cf. Wilson, 1978). Human behavior is the result of the interaction between genes and culture -culture being a majority and growing component - but those inherited basic behaviors seems fundamental to understand our socio-cultural evolution.

According Edward Wilson and other authors our species started the 6th spasm of extinctions (Wilson, 1992; Leakey & Levin, 1997). Everything seems to indicate that our species can be as lethal to biodiversity as a massive volcanic activity or the collision of an asteroid.

There is also another diversity in danger, the ethnic diversity. Following a long human tradition of wars, territorial conquests and setbacks, which already exterminated numerous ethnicities with their cultures and language, this process continues vigorously today (Montenegro & Stephens, 2006). In the same way that the extermination of non-human biodiversity compromises the survival of the biosphere we need, the annihilation of the diversity of ethnicities reduces our cultural and genetic possibilities of survival. For this reason, we believe that Global Changes in Human Ethnicity must be recognized independently (but linked) with all remaining global changes. 

The contradictory aspect of our societies is that sometimes more efforts are made for the rescue of culturally emblematic mammal species, than for the protection of native peoples and their cultures. 

When we talk "about us" everything is different to our previous analysis on biosphere. The "planet Earth" and "life" are not in danger: we, as species, we are in serious danger. As Yuval N. Harari told in "From Animals to Gods: a brief history of humanity" (2016) quite probably our species will be not in 1,000 years from now. 

Our worries are not because species of butterflies and trees disappears. Our worries are because the biosphere that supports us, the biosphere that we need for
surviving is changing towards stages more and more hostile to humans. Clearly speaking hostility means more human suffering. Homo sapiens produce and suffer the degradation of natural ecosystems, but also the atrocities he commits against himself.


3. The Principle of the Dictator

Since the initial development of our species both violence of humans against humans and humans against nature not only ever disappeared, but on the contrary
they increase.

Homo sapiens it's a correct scientific species' name created for us by Carolus Linnaeus because such name doesn't mean positive or negative evolutionary success. Now we know that "being sapiens", or the "species with non genetic transmission of cumulative culture" is an experiment –each species is an evolutionary experiment- with scarce possibilities of long term survival. Being successful in covering most of the planet with human populations, human artifacts and human culture, and a correlated reduction of biodiversity and ecodiversity, Homo sapiens cannot be perceived as an example of long term evolutionary success. We were successful in describing part of the existent biodiversity and ecodiversity, part of the cosmos and how energy, materials and time "works", but we failed in terms of adaptation to Earth's natural ecosystems. We never understood that in order to survive it is not about having increasing amounts of information on all the imaginable (and unimaginable) topics, but that - much smaller and more specific - that guarantees long-term survival.

Thanks to the "Principle of the dictator" that we developed several years ago -a cultural variation of the genetic drift- we know that a single person having accumulated lot of power through democracy, dictatorial mechanisms or criminal gangs, has more probabilities of taking incorrect and even illegal decisions mainly due to the lack of effective external controls (Montenegro, 1999, 2007). The short way between the dangerous or no adaptive idea of a single person, and the materialization of that idea in a context of no control, can produce the killing of thousands of human lives and the disappearance of great surfaces of natural ecosystems in very short times. The cultural linkages between basic inherited behaviors (e.g. dominance, aggression and territorialism); models of social organization that permit the increasing accumulation of power in single persons (e.g. paternalism, "machismo", democratic processes of election, legal armies, illegal armies), and the individual history of the power holder, could produce quite dangerous leaders, even in democracies. A similar mechanism also operates within relatively small homogeneous groups of persons and companies with powerful and few-member boards of directors.

Genocidal warriors like Genghis Kahn in the past and Adolf Hitler more recently; a foolish promoter of the destruction of the Amazon ecosystem and its indigenous peoples such as Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, or the pathetic case of Donald Trump of the United States, driving the resurgence of the threat of nuclear war (who has just ordered the deployment of Trident nuclear missiles in the USS Tennessee submarine, February 2020) are examples of how uneducated and even sick personalities, alone or associated with selfish minorities, can cause incalculable damage to all humanity and the biosphere. Everything seems to indicate that we can develop methods and agreements for reducing e.g. Global Climate Change but we cannot avoid stupid leadership.

Matthew White in his book "The great Big Book of Horrible Things" (2012) methodically reviewed those that are in his opinion the worst 100 episodes of violence in human history. In addition to providing unintentionally a large number of examples of how the "Principle of the Dictator" works, it crudely shows  the chronic deviations of human behavior. A graph of the book summarize the following global figures: 315 million deaths in wars, 141 million deaths due to oppression in times of "peace", 266 million civilian deaths in times of war and 49 million soldiers' deaths. The most curious and alarming graphic is the one that summarize which where the final destination of those responsible of atrocities. I only include here three of its eight categories: 49% died of natural causes while they exercised power, 11% had a peaceful retirement (remember the case of the dictator Augusto Pinochet in Chile) and only 4% died in prison (White, 2012). 

Evidently lot of leaders, among them presidents, prime ministers, dictators, military commanders, drug cartel chiefs, heads of secret services, religious principals and CEOs of great corporations don't understand what sustainable adaptation means. On the contrary, their authoritarian decisions impose rules, technologies, borders, religions and ideas. How to explain to those leaders, and to the societies that often choose and support those leaders, that a beautiful poem that helps us to understand and to live with nature is definitely more important than any aircraft carrier and all the existing Kalashnikov rifles?

4. Ten Global Changes that explains human and environmental crisis

Humanity faces several major threats. Global Climate Change is one of such threats, but not necessarily the worst. 

Being realistic, the "integral threat" for humans (not for the planet) is composed by 10 main "partial threats": "Global Climate Change", "Global Atmospheric Change" (atmosphere), "Global Biodiversity Change" (biosphere), "Global Ecosystems' Change" (ecosphere), "Global Hydric Change" (hydrosphere), "Global Soils' Change", "Global Geomorphology Change" (oceanic crust, continental crust), "Global Changes by Powerful Individuals and Groups", "Global Changes in Ethnic diversity" and "Global Changes in Human Lifestyles". When we talk of Global Changes we mean, of course, negative changes. Usually most of these great changes are primarily the result of negative changes in human lifestyles, and decisions taken by "Powerful Individuals and Groups" (Principle of the Dictator). 

One of the central issues to be analyzed is that most of past and present humans contributed to create unsustainable ecosystems that have in common less biodiversity, less ecodiversity and consequently, less resilience. Contradictory, most of citizens, leaders, governments, corporations and religions –among other universes- don't perceive the real magnitude of such biosphere crisis. There is lack of sensitive information, extremely complex realities are simplified and incorrect isolation of issues generates biased results. Consequently complex situations and problems try to be solved with astonishing simplistic scopes, when –usuallycomplex situations need complex solutions. 

When we simplify realities we are creating a new kind of threat, particularly when we have partial visions based in partial "packs" of information. From our point of view this is happening with Global Climate Change, and particularly with a simplification of such simplification: from all the greenhouse gases, most of the worries and current efforts are concentrated in CO2 releases. There is a wave of models and calculations for establishing the CO2 footprint, the so called "carbon footprint". But our problem as humanity is that even facing simultaneously other nine main Global Changes (see above) we don’t evaluate realistic and integral "footprints".

Eventually we can survive to current "climatic changes" but it is quite difficult to survive, as humans, to strong biodiversity and ecodiversity negative global changes.

The current loss of global biodiversity is 100 to 1,000 greater than "background extinctions" (cf. Ceballos et al., 2015). Most of humans have a simplified perception of biodiversity and ecodiversity. A single natural ecosystem (take in account that "ecosystem", the concept introduced by Tansley in 1935, is an arbitrarily defined division of nature) include thousands of inter linked species, and complex interactions with non living parts (e.g. climate, geomorphology, soils, waters). Such "invisible" biodiversity and ecodiversity ensure a long list of ecosystems' "services" that we need for survival. But usually the perception is centered in visible and iconic species, like some birds, big mammals and trees, and landscapes. This incomplete analysis explains why the loss of biodiversities is less socially perceived than Global Climate Change. Storms, hurricanes and floods are more visible than disturbs in biodiversity. Even for researchers it is difficult to determine biodiversity losses because for many environments the number of species and their respective populations are unknown. Many groups of living beings do not even have specialists who can identify them in different parts of the planet. There are species that disappeared before science gave to them a name.

Consequently, the Global Biodiversity Change and the disappearance of living species continue and what is even more serious, does not consider what we call relative disappearances or relative extinctions. This happens when a species that has a very wide distribution disappears in a "part" of the distribution area without disappearing completely. This process of partial (or regional) extinctions reduces the genetic variation that had a species during its original wide distribution (Montenegro, 1989, 1992, 1999).

We can mention one example from Germany, an industrialized country. According Hallmann et al. (2017), after collecting 1,500 samples in 63 places of Germany, the insect biomass reduction was of 3/4 when comparing 2017 with a baseline 25 years before. Briefly, insect abundance has fallen by 75% over such period (Hallmann et al., 2017; Carrington, 2017). Species, ecosystems and ecological diversity are disappearing at no sense rates. I recall on this fact. Our current societies shows more cultural sensitivity and fear vis-à-vis climate change (which is a real and extremely serious problems for us), and less awareness vis-à-vis biodiversity and ecodiversity losses.

The disappearance of flying insects, which include lot of pollinators, is a threat for humans because 87,5% of world's flowering plant species are pollinated by animals (Ollerton, Winfree & Tarrant, 2011). The severity of this reduction grows when we remember that 35% of crop production (Kremen et al., 2007) and 60% of crop plant species (Roubik, 1995) depend of animal pollinators. Pesticides are killing not only target living species (the so called "pests") but also getting sick people, killing persons and producing relative mass extinctions of insects and other arthropods. The major groups of living organism that live in the planet are insects. Pesticides – solely in Argentina the industrial agriculture use more than 350 millions kilograms/liters per year- is producing a silent biological cataclysm because even herbicides like Glyphosate are harmful for insects, among them bees, and other biota (Marin-Morales, Campos Ventura-Camargo & Miyuki Oshina, 2013; Motta, Raymann & Moran, 2018).

Recall that for example the herbicide Glyphosate is also a bactericide, and that its harmful effect on bees is precisely connected with such bactericidal capacity (Motta, Raymann & Moran, 2018). Given that the presence of glyphosate and its AMPA derivative in human organisms is growing steadily (Lucero et al., 2019), one wonders if this bactericidal effect can cause some kind of harm alteration in exposed humans. Glyphosate has been classified as a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

The great and less perceived problem is that the recovery of biodiversity and ecodiversity losses cannot be reached in short or medium term. We cannot plant natural "ecosystems" having thousands of species, only few species of trees. The plantation of native trees can start, e.g., the recovery of desertified lands, but will never create "natural ecosystems" by themselves. Solely natural ecosystems with high biodiversity indexes –e.g. the Shannon-Wiener index- could expand (re create) ecosystems through processes of ecological succession that demand decades, even hundreds of years. Even so, most of presidents, parliamentarians and citizens don't perceive the inter-generational severity of this ecosystem crisis. As a result of incorrect and ecologically simplified views, governments often propose reforestation plans with fast-growing species such as Pinus spp. or Eucalyptus spp. when the best and more urgent decision is to prevent further destruction of natural environments.

Just as an example, the destruction of biodiversity and ecodiversity destroys the natural machine that produces soil. Without natural soil and in good condition – balanced content of nutrients with certain physicochemical conditions- food crisis would be inevitable. Soils are formed as a consequence of complex biogeochemical reactions between biodiversity, bedrocks, water and other abiotic variables. According Nikolaidis & Ragnarsdottir (2015) "The rates of these reactions are slow, of the order of several millimeters depth of soil forming per 100 years, whereas soil degradation in the past decades is 100-1,000 faster in agricultural areas –placing an unprecedented stress on agro-ecosystems and making it clear that spoil a non renewable resource in the time scale of human generations" (Nikolaidis & Ragnarsdottir, 2015).

According to data from D. Pimentel, in tropical and temperate agricultural conditions an average of 500 years is required, with extremes of 220 and 1,100 years, to regenerate 25 millimeters of soil. For extremely cold forest environments in Tierra del Fuego it is estimated that the formation of 1 centimeter of soil demands about 10,000 years (cf. Primavesi, 1984; Montenegro, 2009). 

Coming back to "one" of the Global Changes, Climate Change, it is clear that humanity is more and more aware about. This is a good thing. But the danger is that under such simplified umbrella, the reduction of CO2 emissions is perceived as a general solution for lot of "other" environmental problems.

Even within Global Climate Change there are issues less considered as part of the problem. Aviation in general releases 2,5% of CO2, but "Internet" (global data transfer) releases 4% and its energy consumption is increasing by 9% a year (cf. The Shift Project, 2019). In 2018 solely the global transfer of videos was responsible for the release of 300 millions tons of CO2 . When we talk of "digital impact" we are addressing not solely his "active side" but also his "dormant pollution" (storage of Emails and WhatsApp e.g.). The generation during 1 hour of 20 millions of Emails involve an indirect consumption of 4,000 tons of oil. A single Google search "releases" 5 to 7 g CO2, and an Email attach of 1 MB "releases" 19 g CO2 C (cf. The Shift Project, 2019).

As we told before, Global Change in Biodiversity and Ecodiversity are as important as Changes in Human Behaviors, that is, "human lifestyles". Of course, such lifestyles are the result of the growing size of human ecological niches. Meanwhile in natural ecosystems the ecological niches of their thousands of living species are quasi clones (with relatively unchanged behaviors), Homo sapiens permanently change and increase the size of his ecological niche. We are unpredictable. But for living "as part" of natural ecosystems the best way it's to be predictable (Montenegro, 1999).

This permanent an unequal cultural change of lifestyles in individuals and societies is the main source of all our environmental problems.

Since the occurrence of firsts green and urban revolutions and their associated cultural revolutions, human niches permanently grow. We can use data from Cook as indicators of such increase. Hunters and gatherers used 4,300 kcal/ (food, transport, etc.); primitive agriculturalists 11,000 kcal/; advanced agriculturalists 17,000 kcal/; industrial man 77,000 kcal/, and technological man 230,000 kcal/ (Cook, 1971). Current figures are higher than those presented by Cook. Citizens from a First World Country could use 400,000 kcal/, and much more. During 4,000-10,000 years of recent human evolution energy consumption per capita increases 150 folds. Most of this increase was registered in the last 250-300 years (Montenegro, 1999). 

A Mbya indigenous person from the Paranaense forest in Argentina spent approximately 3,500 Kcal/ (all energy concepts), meanwhile a US citizen with high standards of consumption spent 400,000 Kcal/ Lot of citizens in Europe has similar high levels of total energy consumption.

This is "the problem". We have extremely poor people surviving with less than 1,500-2,000 Kcal/, and people living with more than 400,000 Kcal/ The house of Bill Gates has a cost of near 150 million dollars, and consumption patterns of probably millions of kilocalories per day (2019).

It is not only about the personal CO2 footprints related to Global Climate Change, but the total footprints for the different global changes. At the same time it is not only about carbon footprints, or integrated footprints, but also about of the dramatic reality faced by poor and extremely poor people all over the world.  There are footprints that must be reduced meanwhile other footprints need to be increased. 

When a country like Germany try to reduce CO2 emissions without reducing the production and export of weapons, something is wrong. We must not forget the lethal policy of Heckler & Koch, one of the big producers of weapons in Germany, which provided weapons to Mexico in violation of German laws (BBC News, 2019). The Heckler & Koch Group is home to Heckler & Koch GmbH, Heckler & Koch Defense, NSAF Ltd. and Heckler & Koch France SAS. A shameful but demonstrative fact: H&K motto is "Keine Kompromisse!" ("No commitments!").

Being "green" countries with great export of guns, motor saws and pesticides is wrong. To maintain high rates of recycling of internal waste, like in Sweden, this is a good thing. But Swedish imports of waste from Scandinavian countries for the maintaining of Swedish incinerators are bad.

As we told before, scientifically, but also socially, it is not correct to measure only carbon footprints (more specifically "greenhouse gases print") without considering all remaining Global Changes and footprints. 

Individuals, societies and human activities also produce "hydro footprints", "soil footprints", "atmospheric footprints", "biodiversity footprints", "ecological footprints" and so on. Footprints are not only produced by greenhouse gases in the context of Global Climate Change, but also -and particularly- by consumption of products, materials and information in the context of this and other Global Changes.

Non sustainable lifestyles are the main source of all our environmental and social problems. Thus, why don't we address with the same level of concern "all" Global Changes, including the "Global Change of Human Lifestyles"? Some partial answers are: 1) Negative effects of climate change are rapidly perceived meanwhile negative biodiversity and ecodiversity changes are less noticeable; 2) Proposed solutions for the Global Climate Change involve linear capitalist patterns and a reduced set of greenhouse gases (simplicity), and 3) The exclusion of other "Global Changes", like "Global Changes in Lifestyles", avoids inconvenient truths. To fight against Global Climate Change is lesser problematic than to fight against powerful governments, mafias and corporations.

Even if it is an initial and modest proposal, we believe it is necessary to initiate a broad international debate for the development of a Convention on Social Behavior and Human Lifestyles, and why not, on the "Principle of the Dictator". I wrote an initial scheme towards a convention on lifestyles in the book edited by Vandana Shiva "Visions of the living Earth" (Montenegro, 2012). Such book was presented at the Rio + 20 Conference in Rio de Janeiro (2012).

It is inhuman to argue that there can be extremely rich people and extremely poor people. There are lifestyles whose indicators should go down, and other lifestyles that should go up. It is also necessary to debate the "Principle of the Dictator" because much of the problems addressed on lifestyles have their origin in people with excess of power being socially inappropriate to make decisions. Millions of people could be affected by authoritarian decisions taken by single persons. As part of a supreme human stupidity -the development of nuclear weapons to kill people and to destroy human settlements- the human being was already very close to living (or dying) nuclear holocausts, either because of the foolish pressure of military sectors, or errors in control mechanisms. After years of relative distension, the current president of the United States, Donald Trump, has restarted the nuclear arms race. It is clear that something works poorly in human societies when violent people with little culture have in excess power. 

As we told before, a single person having accumulated lot of power through democracy, dictatorial mechanisms, or informal arrangements within criminal gangs, has more probabilities of taking incorrect and even dangerous decisions mainly due e.g. to the lack of effective external controls.

We also pointed out that the "Principle of the Dictator" works for small governmental groups, corporate clusters, teams of scientific research and religious circles. Our cultural evolution divorced Homo sapiens from regulatory mechanisms that operate in natural ecosystems. At the same time our societies don't developed effective mechanisms for being protected of extremely dangerous leaders. That is why we say that no Global Change can be addressed without considering the Global Changes in Lifestyles, and the worrying mechanisms and consequences of the "Dictator's Principle".

One of the risks we perceive today is that the attention given to Global Climate Change –an extremely serious threat for humanity- is postponing the urgent approach of the other nine types of global change, particularly global changes in lifestyles. This biased vision creates a new and unpredictable risk.

It is urgent to work with a system of conventions - not just one of them - and assume that humanity can eventually adapt with tremendous suffering to global climate change. But not sufficiently considering the risks of global biodiversity change and the remaining global changes can dangerously accelerate our extinction.


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* Raul Montenegro is biologist, Right Livelihood Award 2004. Director of the Campus Cordoba, RLC and Plenary Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology (Faculty of Psychology, National University of Cordoba). President of FUNAM (Environment Defense Foundation) 

Document produced by the Campus Cordoba of the Right Livelihood College for the Medellin International Poetry Festival and the 40th Anniversary of the Right Livelihood Award Medellín, Colombia, 13-20 June 2020. 

Cordoba, Argentina
Febrero 2020

Última actualización: 06/11/2020