Fritjof Capra speaks to The Heart of the Matter
In this video, Fritjof Capra, a renowned physicist and systems theorist, deals with the systematic interconnectedness of global problems: energy shortages, environmental degradation, climate change, economic inequality, violence, war etc. Aggravating one of them will have an influence on the others. To reach the sustainable development goals, it is necessary to understand these dynamics.
Taking climate change as an example, this issue is caused by excessive emissions of greenhouse gases which are released by the burning of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are needed for powering all industrial and economic processes. Climate catastrophes due to global warming in turn resul in social, environmental and economic consequences, such as climate refugees and wars. The civil war in Syria, for example, originated in a drought that began in 2006.
Having an overview of the whole system makes it clear that a solution for one isolated problem is useless. Moreover, the root of all the problems is to be found in the economic illusion of limitless resources, which promotes excessive consumption and a throw-away-economy, generating waste, pollution and increasing economic inequality. The key challenge is therefore to achieve a radical shift in the economic system.
Capra introduces the idea of balanced, multi-faceted, qualitative growth in contrast to quantitative growth measured by GDP. The first one should increase while second one decreases.
Furthermore, he speaks about a new understanding of life. The planet as a whole needs to be seen as a living, self-regulating system with an emphasis on complexity, networks, patterns of organization and relationships. This leads to a conceptual framework consisting of biological, cognitive, social and ecological aspects.
The critical point is on how to connect the dots that build sustainable communities. A sustainable community is designed in such a way that its ways of life, its businesses, physical structures and technologies respect, honor and cooperate with nature’s inherent ability to sustain life. For that it is necessary to understand the basic principles of ecology, and this should be the most important part of education on all levels. The lesson we should learn from nature is that no individual organism can exist in isolation. So, sustainability is the property of an entire web of relationships.
An example of a sustainable, systematic solution is a shift to organic, community-oriented farming instead of chemical, large scale and industrial agriculture. This change would reduce the energy dependence, improve public health, and have a contribution to climate change because an organic soil is rich in carbon an that in turn can reduce the number of climate refugees. This is only one of hundreds of solutions that already have been published.
This leads to a simple question: If we have all the knowledge and the technology to build a sustainable world, why don’t we do it?