Peace needs nourishment and safety to sustain – Dr. Delwin E. Benson Professor, CSU
Our one-world and skies above were, are, and will be explored and exploited by the only inhabitants who are capable to model the future and to significantly change it. Will change happen soon enough to affect human- influenced sustainability, climate changes, peace, and how are they related?
Making peace with the earth, climate, and humans in sustainable ways is gaining attention. Unfortunately, uses of the earth affect living sustainably and create conflicts that affect living peacefully.
Obtaining resources to survive is what humans do and environments can reach limits of capacity. Humans discovered wild animals to eat and wear, seeds to plant and store, soils to build homes and walls, animals to domesticate, spices that preserve and flavor, silk to clothe and beautify, wood to warm and cook, and fossil fuels to extract that drive economic engines. Humans developed transportation systems to exchange goods and services and words to influence others. Paths taken are littered with altered landscapes, overuse, soil erosion, air and water pollution, plastic bottles, human bodies, space debris, and new ways to convey words. Climate is changing based on the long-term averages of temperature, air pressure, humidity, precipitation, sunshine, clouds, winds, air quality, and hydrologic outcomes. Humans must cope with new demands on the lands, waters, air, and peoples and decide whether to use scientific evidence about sustaining humans and the resources they need.
Abraham Maslow’s (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs) theory about a hierarchy of human needs suggests that basic physiological needs must be met before more intellectual and altruistic needs are possible. Essentially, humans must have food and shelter first or they die and cannot have Physiological success. Protecting resources and humans against threats is called Safety. When humans and resources are safe, they seek Love/Belonging to the family, tribe, community, country, and planet. Recognition from others in the family and society develops self-Esteem. Leaders are also elevated in status and Esteem if they provide safe and sustainable resources for their peoples. Self-actualization is the final and transcendental state of giving oneself to needs beyond oneself which reflects how Rotarians are secure to focus on matters of peace. The needs overlap, and humans might revert backward or progress forward on the pyramid, but they are not likely to progress to higher levels when basic needs are not met.
Humans contest about control of natural resources, safe links to those resources, and for cultural ideologies and practices to survive. If the planet is not sustainable, then it begins to crumble. People change also, whether from the top, bottom, or middle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Self-actualization diminishes without abilities to become what we desire. Esteem fades from distrust. Humans seek to belong with those who protect safety of resources, cultures, and basic physiological survival.
Models have variability, yet they suggest that climate is changing rapidly. We need sustainable actions toward our one-earth now or peace will remain a more distant construct. A glimpse at what scientists are saying includes:
Not all persons believe that we can reverse a deteriorating climate and that it is not human caused. People generally do not live peacefully with others or practice ecological sustainably because their interests are too personal and short-term. Humans fought over territory, resources, security, and freedoms. We need new approaches. We can want less, treat others with civility, and clean up after ourselves. Youth need more manners and adults need more restraint. The consequences of those actions are positive. The risks of not changing our human and environmental ethics and behaviors are negatively grave.
Humans are the only beings who can change the course and outcome of how the earth, skies, and humans will survive and live in peace. We must heed warnings from history and science about how humans affect basic philosophical capabilities and the consequences of thoughts, words, and actions. We can seek to become more self-actualized no matter our conditions, and then we can thoughtfully discuss peace, sustainable living practices, and climatic outcomes that are healthy. We must help others to rise to that level. The earth will sustain in some form, but without thoughtful and peaceful actions, humans might not be in it.