Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: Avoiding desert

The news feed brought bad news again. According to experts of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), about a million of species will disappear from the face of the earth in the next fifty years with the direct participation of man and his activities. Not living creatures but species. In just fifty years.

IPBES is a solid community of scientists with 145 specialists from various fields from 50 countries. When such an institution comes to certain conclusions, they sound like an indictment, not a warning.

The head of IPBES, the British chemist Sir Robert Watson, emphasizes that the species extinction rate has increased lately. Scientists say that less than a thousand species of animals and plants became extinct between 16 and 20 centuries.
However, many people think that our silly predecessors killed animals for food without knowing what they were doing. We have become smarter, we have the Red Book, we have imposed commercial killing with multitude of norms, rules and quotas. But in the end it turns out that we are now destroying our neighbours on the Earth a thousand times more efficiently than our ancestors.
How so? The IPBES gives the answer: “This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.... The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed.”
Experts stress that three-quarters of the land and almost two-thirds of the sea landscape have undergone major changes. In the same 500 years, 85% of the marshes disappeared. People drained them, using the land for their own purposes. Since 1980, the plastic pollution has increased tenfold; 300–400 million tons of waste are dumped into world’s waters every year.
It becomes clear that the destruction of nature is directly related to the growth in consumption. And it’s not just the growth of the human population, but also the emergence of amenities offered by civilization such as disposable plastic dishes.
Of course, one may dismiss the IPBES report: great extinctions in different epochs occurred without human participation; however, some species have survived. At the same time, some scientists are still optimistic, believing that the process can still be stopped.
Some may recall the successes of biotechnology and ask: “so what if some species are lost?” After all, they can be restored in the near future. There, they say, live mammoths will appear in zoos soon.
Yes, they do talk about such possibility. But, despite the theoretical prospect of such a revival, practice has shown that this is an incredibly difficult thing to do. So is it worth waiting for the disappearance of some specie to restore it afterwards with much effort and expense?
However, they invest huge amounts of money in improving health and prolonging life technologies. Scientists and developers of such technologies are confidently talking about the possibility of extending the human lifespan - not mere existence, but a healthy, active life - up to 150 years. Surely, there are sponsors of such projects. It is a shame, having infinite riches in our world, to realize that you will not take money with you to another world, to understand that a person is mortal, and, as the author of Master and Margarita novel wrote, he is sometimes suddenly mortal. Therefore, today there are many willing to invest in projects to extend human lifespan.
But I can’t comprehend why they do it? There are already almost eight billion of us, so, continuing in the same vein, over the next century or two, we will completely destroy the flora and fauna, remaining on a bare planet. I think most of us understand what this means for us.
But I'm talking now about something else. According to UN experts, 18 thousand children die of hunger and malnutrition in the world every 24 hours. Moreover, 850 million people starve. About half a million lives are taken annually by drugs, and eight million people die from alcohol. Add to these numbers those who die every year from heat or cold and from diseases that could be cured. But what for do we destroy everything around? For the sake of growing consumption of a relatively small part of people?
Our compatriot, great thinker, academician Dmitry Likhachev, said that the goal of human development is creation of a new person. He stressed: “It is not just a well-fed and physically developed person, but an individual of intellectual culture.” In other words, a culturally and spiritually developed man, leading meaningful and responsible activity.
How far we are today from the goal proposed by Dmitry Sergeyevich! Yes, we blindly increase the “general welfare”, but it only means that the overconsumption by one part of humanity is combined with the blatant poverty of the other, larger part. At the same time, neither general intelligence, nor general level of spirituality and culture could be observed. We have succeeded only in the destruction of our common nature.
IPBES experts give their recommendations on the conservation of threatened species. They propose to introduce sparing agricultural technologies, strictly observe the norms and quotas of extraction of natural resources, reduce the volume of industrial emissions, and so on and so forth. But all these recommendations will remain meaningless and useless as long as consumption is paramount.
Before you engage in the preservation of natural ecology, it is necessary to eliminate the cause of its deterioration. And, I repeat, it is the thoughtless and impetuous deeds of human civilization oriented towards overconsumption. I saw an interesting ad on TV. It said: the world is not just things; the world is the things that became yours. Things that were bought, stolen or lured? And I always thought that the world is not about things at all...
For two thousand years, mankind has accumulated a solid code of laws protecting private, public and state property. We have learned to protect class and state interests, privacy, and the priority of the current government. But tell me, where are the laws proclaiming the highest value of a person and its right to life? Life that is not a mere existence, but the life as Dmitry Sergeyevich Likhachev described it. Which law punishes for violating the ecology of the soul, for its pollution with a thirst for consumption, violence and laziness? What punishment is there for seduction with junk food, alcohol and nicotine?
If we still want to preserve the nature of our planet, and therefore ourselves, it’s time for us to start thinking and acting. If we are concerned about the pollution of the world's oceans, the obliteration of corals, insects, and plants, then how much more should we be concerned about the pollution of human souls, the destruction of good, honour and conscience?
There is a topic on ecology of the soul. It is the most interesting thing, if you think about it. Recently, they have been talking a lot about it, but it seems that no one has really formulated what it is. In my opinion, we must start from the idea of ​​the “right to life”, vitacracy. By this term, I mean the unconditional and comprehensive right of every person to life, ranging from the protection of health and personal integrity to the full intellectual, cultural and spiritual development.
I am deeply convinced that rights are inseparable from responsibility and a fully developed person cannot fail to understand his personal responsibility for the state of the surrounding world. And it doesn’t matter whether there is an armed conflict between tribes in a remote corner of the Earth or atmospheric pollution by industrial emissions.
We have already reached the level of development when the further progress of human civilization endangers the existence of the Earth’s biosphere, and ultimately of all of humanity. I do not call humanity back to the caves. But further progress requires a large number of smart and responsible people. A smart person is always more responsible; it’s almost the same thing. Sooner or later, the ideas of the vitacracy will prevail, simply because they are beneficial to each individual person and to all of humanity as a whole.
The fact is that we shall maintain cleanliness and order not only in the environment, but also in what is inside us: our soul. Then such an unusual concept as the ecology of the soul will become as commonplace as everyday hygiene. Only after that, scientists will be able to distract from the mournful calculations of the species destroyed or on the verge of extinction and do their direct business, such as, for example, discovering a cure for cancer or the ways to stop natural disasters like a tsunami or a volcanic eruption.
Of course, we can leave everything as it is, and after a hundred years find ourselves on a bare and empty planet, surrounded by mountains of plastic waste and an ocean of dead water. But none of the most incredible riches of the most wealthy people in the world will be able to turn a puddle into a spring, and a dried-up swamp into a blue, bottomless lake.