The Earth Charter is a well-developed shared vision of basic values to improve world ethics to achieve world-wide sustainability. Forming a global partnership to care for nature and for ourselves will help prevent the destruction of everything. Human development should be about BEING more, not about having more, which has taken over our values throughout with our technological advances. We have gotten cocky and have forgotten where we come from. We need to regain our sense of universal responsibility, not just focusing on the individual anymore. This vision should be adopted by individuals, families, businesses, government, and world-wide. The Earth Charter is based on four main principles:
Principle I of the Earth Charter is about caring for the community of life. It states that to own or use any part of nature comes with the responsibility to protect it and prevent harm to it, and as our knowledge grows, so does our responsibility. We have to recognize that all living things are valuable, regardless of its use to us, and we are also valuable. Future generations have to be considered in our decisions now, by building healthy and sustainable societies. These values were reflected in many of our readings. David Orr says in his excerpt about biophilia that “We should worry a good bit less about whether our progeny will be able to compete as a ‘world-class workforce’ and a great deal more about whether they will know how to live sustainably on the earth.” Work is the main part of life that most people worry about the most because for as long as we can remember, money has been required to have any sort of quality of life. We have forgotten that we come from nature, and to nature is where we all inevitably return. Children should be taught from a young age about nature, to learn to respect nature and the existence of all of the animals, and that every part is important to the whole. Unsustainable practice have gotten the earth to the point it is now and the destruction will continue until we put more emphasis on preserving and repairing the damage, because as Jane Goodall has pointed out, it is never too late to repair. The environment is resilient and will endure long past us, but if we want to continue to persist, we have to alter our habits. Principle I relies on Principles II through IV.
Principle II is about ecological integrity, which is upheld by protecting ecological systems and biodiversity, preventing harm whenever possible, keeping healthy practices of production and consumption, and advancing the effort by sharing knowledge that is gained through the processes. Shiva points out in “What is Biodiversity and Why is it so Important” that “Biodiversity, from genes to species to ecosystems, works in harmony and in concert to create and maintain life….. Just as our bodies maintain their temperature, the earth’s equilibrium is maintained through ecological processes in which biodiversity plays a central role.” Biodiversity is a concept that is repeated throughout our readings from the biodiversity of the Everglades in “The Nature of the Everglades” to the erosion of biodiversity described by Shiva. Biodiversity and the preservation of it is the key to keeping the earth happy. Everything does work together and when one organism is lost, its niche is never fully occupied again in the same capacity.
Principle III is based on social and economic trust. Eradicating poverty and promoting human development by improving education and promoting distribution of wealth. The rights of all should be upheld regardless of race, religion, or creed to a social and natural environment supportive of human dignity, health, and spiritual well-being. Jane Goodall spoke about the importance of women and the fact that the better their education, the family sizes drop in the area and allows a woman to realistically plan her family and how she will feed her family. This is especially important in countries where women have historically been oppressed and not allowed to have an education, or only to be able to complete up to a certain point. All people should be respected by their peers and government regardless of sex and should have the same opportunities as everyone else.
Principle IV is about all living things having peace, nonviolence, and democracy by treating all life-forms with respect and being considerate of others. Teaching the values, skills, and knowledge to live sustainably and promoting a tolerant and peaceful culture is a big route to take in accomplishing this. Aldo Leopold describes what he called “the ecological conscience” in which he says that “Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.” His view was that no important change in ethics is observed without an internal change in our intellectual importance, loyalties, principles, and cares. To make conservation more important, we have to stop doing it for appearances or as penance for the damage we have done. In “Endgame,” conservation efforts were used as a political basis, which to me is wrong. Attention to the cause is one thing, but as a political platform and use as a political face is entirely another. Our consciences need to be shifted from one of personal gain and ethics in the personal regard, to one that takes into account everything in the environment, because really if we don’t learn to love it a lot more, we will end up losing everything with time.
Life involves difficult choices and this is the point in time where humanity as a whole needs to come together to make a positive, deliberate choice for all of Earth because, really, who else is responsible for it if not us?
“Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life” ~The Earth Charter