Recent Comments
    Visit Us on Facebook

    Global north’s agenda continues to impoverish all life

    So you should view this fleeting world —
    A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
    A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
    A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.

    Diamond Sutra

    “Costing the Earth” is a phrase that will be familiar to most of us, in the sense of something being excessively expensive; but with biodiversity loss and climate change both accelerating, the expression should be used literally—to denote that a lack of action to reverse industrial societies’ voracious and extractivist demands will cost life on Earth its home. At last it has factual teeth, and we must take seriously that the cost is not merely financial or metaphorical, but indeed existential. “Costing the Earth,” then, carries an imperative to carefor Earth.

    BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth and other similarly named podcasts and lectures are dedicated to exposing and reorienting the direction humanity needs to take to protect Earth’s complex and marvellous ecosystem. Grotesquely, however, the phrase “costing the Earth” has been used as a slogan by corporations and governments that put forth the fraudulent case that taking action outside their fossilized agendas is not economically viable. Their organized and reckless irresponsibility has created an omnishambles of vast proportions. 

    There are encouraging signs, however. Students want—and need—big changes. A diet dependent on the exploitation of animals places an enormous burden on humanity’s ability to mitigate climate heating and wildlife/biodiversity loss, and scores of university student unions are now demanding that food supplied on campus be vegetarian or vegan.

    Banners with slogans like “Plant-based university: end the climate crisis” are being unfurled across European campuses, achieving startling success that not only translates into much lower carbon emissions at those universities, but also acts as a catalyst for more dialogue amongst students, their families and communities to demand action on biodiversity, climate and pollution. As these interlinked crises expand and are felt viscerally by a growing population of younger generations, the clear decision to be vegan is overwhelmingly being embraced. Canadian universities are slowly catching on, and Concordia University now offers free vegan lunches.

    When people are able to express their demands for climate/biodiversity action and are successful in initiating those changes, they feel better about themselves and their prospects. Eco-anxiety has been radically expanding amongst students, who gut-wrenchingly are beginning to despair. So, for example, when the group Éco-Motion came to Bishop’s University to mentor a group of a dozen or so students for two hours during the university’s mental health week this winter, the students were given the opportunity to explore their feelings through conversation and written material. It is clear that further sessions are needed.

    In my article “No student should be denied climate education” in this newspaper on September 15 last year, I advocated for an intense redirection of curricula, as seen in some European universities, to reflect the urgent need to mainstream the interlocking crises into courses offered at these institutions. Bringing in speakers to meet with students sets the stage for more interaction. A recent public talk at Bishop’s University by Canadian Senator Rosa Galvez, “Driving climate change action,” was a way to inspire students to participate and to gain a deeply needed sense of agency, but it was only a beginning. 

    Recently I have come to know a little of the important ecological work that the renowned Indian ecologist Dr. S. Faizi has actively fought for. He has helped give a voice to the global south and has eloquently expressed the overwhelming need to have Indigenous peoples be the stewards of biodiversity instead of the typical tyranny of post-colonial governments pushing aside Indigenous knowledge. As a negotiator for ecological rights of the south, he has proposed establishing a United Nations Environmental Security Council for addressing ecocides, and at the same time disbanding the UN Security Council, which he accuses of being anti-democratic; those powers should be given back to the general assembly of the UN.

    Dr. Faizi’s work in forest conservation in India and his activism in standing with Indigenous groups to protect their lands have brought him numerous accolades. He is a mentor for many who strongly believe that the north–south axis has left the global south impoverished. As a demonstration of this he recently wrote an essay, “Self-withering: The Biodiversity Convention and its new Global Biodiversity Framework,” which details how the global north makes it extremely difficult for the global south to have agency over its ecological destiny. At present, he points out, there is no requirement for a “north-south balance” as set out in previous international conservation treaties. He ends by saying, “The climate crisis and biodiversity disruption are likely to cause the extinction of the industrial civilisation in the not-too-distant future. The capitalist mode of infinite exploitation within a finite system carries the seeds of its own destruction.”

    Those of us who attended the biodiversity conference in Montreal (COP15) in 2022 realize that there must be immediate and resolute negotiations to bring about a just solution to how the Global Biodiversity Framework includes the aspirations of all nations; otherwise, as Dr. Faizi emphatically states, there will be a “self-withering” of the entire biodiversity project. An inspiring portrait of Dr. Faizi can be found at

     As well, on 13 March, Dr. Faizi just became one of six recipients for the 2024 Planet Earth Award.

    As 2024 continues to show a worrying trend for higher temperatures, the southern hemisphere is on the cusp of having its ultra-biodiversity-rich coral reefs decimated. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explains: “When water is too warm, corals will expel the algae (zooxanthellae) living in their tissues, causing the coral to turn completely white. This is called coral bleaching. When a coral bleaches, it is not dead. Corals can survive a bleaching event, but they are under more stress and are subject to mortality.”

    As Dr. Faizi has so adroitly written, it is the global south that has born the brunt of the global north’s excesses. If the UN Convention on Biological Diversity is to prosper and fulfill its mandate, countries like Canada and the United States (which has not ratified the Convention) must turn away from an apocalyptic future, not by sabotaging efforts, but by empowering the south to foster an enlightened ecological worldview.

    “Nature can be our saviour,” said Inger Anderson, the head of the UN Environment Programme. But only if we save it first.” 

    Leave a Reply

    You must be logged in to post a comment.