On Thursday, February 18, 2021, the United Nations released a report on climate change and the planet’s health, “Making Peace with Nature.” In brief, it proposed that to save the earth we must alter our attitude to the natural world.
“For too long, we have been waging a senseless and suicidal war on nature,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. This has caused the linked environmental crises of climate disruption, biodiversity loss, and pollution, and is reflected in measures like GDP. “We can see GDP growth when we over-fish. We are destroying nature, but we count it as increase of wealth. … We can see the GDP growth when we cut forests, and we are destroying nature, and we are destroying wealth … Economic and financial systems fail to account for the essential benefits that humanity gets from nature.” Secretary-General Guterres said we need to change how we think or we will destroy our planet.
In fact, we have treated nature in a destructive, dominating way for quite some time, although humankind has not always acted so. Once, we considered animals our equals, as many indigenous peoples still do. We need to once more treat other living things respectfully and protectively, both for moral reasons and to safeguard humankind. And caring for nature is not the only change we must make; other flaws in our thinking cause almost equal harm. ‘Einstein’s Last Message’ sets out the corrections that our thinking needs if we are to be sure of surviving.