Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Campus Event: Vandana Shiva on "Making Peace with the Earth"

This event is part if the campus Convocation Series. Vandana Shiva spoke on campus on February 28, 2013. The following are my notes from the event. Any comments I make are in parenthesis:

  • A culture of greed is celebrated in our world. For a moment, it seemed that something would be different after the 1992 Earth Summit. But we need to worry. Global Warming causing climate chaos: U.S. facing historical drought, intensity of hurricanes increasing around the world. This a result of the war against the Earth. 
  • Wars are about seizing the resources of others. Here is a little known effect of the War in Iraq: there is new local legislation banning the use of local seeds there. Why? To require farmers to use Monsanto seeds. (I had to look this up, but here is an account out of AlterNet and another from GRAIN).
  • The closing of the commons. Loss to societies as common spaces are privatized by corporations.
  • Biodiversity and cultural diversity go hand in hand. The planet is not just home to human beings. Man is part of the Earth, not an owner of it. 
  • The concept of the 7th generation is missing: thinking of acting with consideration of the future and avoiding harm if possible. (i.e., think at least seven generations down the road before you do something). 
  • Eco-apartheid exists today. But how can we see ourselves as separate from nature? Scientific illusions make nature into mere matter, dead; thus, it can be exploited. Native peoples and their notions of Mother Earth are seen as obstacles to civilization. But this empty Earth idea was nothing more than a license to ravish and destroy the Earth. The new philosophy now is to destroy the Earth for "growth" and cash. 
  • Creating societies of non-producers. For the U.S., notice all the things made in China. Wall Street does not really produce anything, other than electronic money, what grew into financial speculation. The subprime crisis thus took out various nations with it. We see a growth of fictional economies. 
  • The idea of the rich white male has transformed into the corporation as a person. See the Citizens United decision (case information from SCOTUS blog; from Open Secrets). We are seeing democracy moving from being by, for the people, and of the people to by, for, and of the corporations. 
  • Nutrionism: taking a food process and adding chemistry to it (messing it up in the process). This causes issues like mad cow disease, which was really caused by a mutated/twisted protein. 
  • The labeling of food is simply your democratic right to know what you are eating. It is why companies like Monsanto and Pepsi fight against labeling legislation. 
  • See her book, Soil, Not Oil. (Our library has it, so I will be reading it soon. Review may be forthcoming). 
  • Danger of an anonymous food system. 
  • Making peace with the planet: 
    • Recognize that the planet is alive. This thinking is re-emerging in Bolivia, for instance, with Evo Morales and his advocacy along with others for Earth rights. 
    • Our own rights depend on the Earth. We need clean water, clean air, etc. We prosper in harmony with the Earth. 
    • We need to shift away from the idea of limitless growth on a limited planet. Taking more than what you need is theft as it takes from others. Consumer cultures create throwaway cultures.
  • The web of life is a food web; we are connected by food. We need to go home to community. We need an expansion of our sense of Earth as family. The art of money making is killing the art of living. We need to support and build up the art of living instead. While we shrink our ecological footprint, we must enlarge our awareness of Earth. We must plant seeds of compassion and love. 

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