Importance of Natural Resources

We are Nature | Satish Kumar | TEDxSaoPauloSalon

Translator: Peter van de Ven
Reviewer: Denise RQ I’m delighted to have visited the Amazon. This was the dream of my life, and being in the Amazon area
was something incredible. I could not have imagined, after seeing many pictures,
reading many books, when I went to the Amazon,
I realized what a treasure Brazil has. Brazil is perhaps
the richest country in the world, from the point of view of nature, but somehow, humanity had forgotten, and humanity, even in Brazil,
many people don’t realize the real wealth. We think wealth is money,
but money is not wealth. The forest, the rivers,
the soil, the animals, the human skills – that is real wealth. So nature is true capital. Money is only an exchange,
a means of exchange of services and goods, but the real wealth is nature; real wealth is human talent,
human imagination, human skills. And human skills, human imagination,
and human talent when meet with nature,
and work with nature, go along with nature
– not against nature but with nature – we and nature become one then. At the moment, humanity has come to believe
that nature is somehow separate. Mountains, forests, rivers,
animals, birds are nature; we humans are not nature;
but that is not true! We humans are also made
of the same elements, earth, air, fire, water; and for me, the fifth element
is imagination. Nature is also imaginative; nature is imagination itself. So, this unity of nature
and human is essential if we want to create
a sustainable future for humanity. At the moment, we are ruled by the idea
of separation and disconnection: nature separate, we separate. And this is why we have got this idea
that we have to conquer nature, we have to steal the secrets of nature, we have to dominate nature,
and exploit nature for human benefit. This is something we have to change. We have to think that by conquering
nature, we are going to be the losers. Nature means birth,
‘natura, ‘ natal, native. We are all born,
and therefore, we are all nature. Therefore, there is no separation, there is no disconnection
between humans and nature. What we do to nature, out there,
we do to ourselves: if we pollute the water,
we have to drink it; if you pollute air, we have to breathe it; if we pollute soil,
we have to eat the food from the soil. The food we are eating
is nothing but soil; the bananas, the papayas,
the pineapples, the grain we eat, everything is soil transformed. And so we need to protect and revere Gaia,
the living organism, the living Earth. We have to conserve nature,
we have to conserve soil, we have to conserve
our forest, our rivers. Brazil is sitting on a great treasure. We talk about oil crisis,
and fossil fuel will run out, but water crisis
will be the greatest crisis. And there are many countries in the world
where they are suffering without water, but Brazil is so fortunate to have such a wonderful
network of rivers, like the Amazon River and the Rio Negro. When I sailed on the River Negro, I was amazed how wonderful, amazing,
stunning, mysterious, magical nature is. So, we have to realize in our lives
that we are nature, and we have to be close to nature,
to live in harmony with nature; it’s the soil we are made of. The word for soil in Latin is ‘humus.’ Humus and human come from the same root. We humans are soil. If we do not take care of the soil,
we cannot be true humans. So, all our infrastructure such as airports, motorways,
railways, our industry, our buildings, our cities,
all the infrastructure, all the business, all the industry are icing on the cake. The real cake is nature. The real cake is our forest,
our rivers, our soil, our animals, and also human talent,
human skills, and human imagination. When we are able
to realize this unity of life, unity of humans and nature, then nature is abundant. There is no shortage of anything
as the Amazon shows. There is no shortage of water there,
there is no shortage of food. If we share with everybody
and with nature, we take our share from nature,
and share that abundance of nature with all other human beings
and remaining life – not just with human beings
but remaining life – if we share with all living beings, then we can live in a wonderful economy. We can create an economy
which would be sustainable, not for five years, not for 50 years, not for 500 years but for 5 million years. That is the sustainable economy we want, and that economy can only come
if we are working in harmony with ecology. The word ‘ecology’ is made of ‘ecos-‘
and ‘logos’ – knowledge of ‘ecos-.’ ‘Ecos-‘ means planet Earth, Earth home, ‘ecos-‘ is home, our Earth home. So, if we have understanding
and knowledge of our home, then we build economy,
which is management of our home. So ecology and economy
go hand-in-hand together, they are like walking on two legs, walking on two legs
is ecology and economy. So we can create this way
a wonderful sustainable future for the whole of humanity,
but at the moment, because we are trying to conquer nature,
we are trying to exploit nature, and we are trying
to turn nature into a commodity to make more and more money – money is not real wealth,
but we think that money is wealth. So we need to change our thinking, and we have to see that real capital
is not what is in the banks, but real capital is what is
in the soil, what is in the forest. So the nature is real capital. So we have to adhere to
and embrace natural capitalism. When there is a natural capitalism, then all our infrastructure, industry,
motorways, airports, and so on can have their place, but not at the expense of nature,
not at the expense of soil, not at the expense of our forest,
not at the expense of our water system. At the moment, we are polluting our water,
we are polluting our air, we are polluting our soil – chemicals,
fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides. All those things, poisonous things, we are putting
into the water, into the air, and that is causing
global warming, climate change. So that is not going to be
a sustainable future for the whole of humanity. So we need to transform our vision
and our values, our worldview; and our worldview has to be based
on the unity of humanity and nature rather than on this separation,
this disconnection, this division between humans and nature. The moment you create division,
then you can feel this arrogance, that somehow, humans are superior to nature,
and nature’s there to serve our needs, that nature is only useful
as long as it fulfills human needs. But what I’m trying to say
is that nature has an intrinsic value. Nature is not there
only to meet human needs but nature is there
for its own quality, for its own good. Nature is good in itself. Trees are there,
not because they are useful to me, they give me oxygen,
or they take my carbon, or they give me wood,
or they gave me fruit. That is all good,
that’s a gift from nature; but nature has an intrinsic value,
nature is good in itself. When we realize
that intrinsic value of nature, and we learn to live
in harmony with nature, then we can create a sustainable future, and we can address the main problems of resource depletion, pollution, waste,
global warming, and climate change. All these issues
can be tackled and addressed if we are able to change
our thinking and our worldview from separation to unity,
from disconnection to connection. “Only Connect,” this was E.M. Forster
who coined the term; “Only Connect.” Everything is connected,
we are all related, we are all one, and this unity of life is manifesting in millions,
and billions, and trillions of forms. So diversity, whether it’s biodiversity,
cultural diversity, linguistic diversity – diversity is to be celebrated, but diversity should not
be turned into divisions, and we should not turn it
into separation and disconnection. So we should celebrate diversity
without getting into divisions. At the moment, we are suffering from the problem
of division and separation. That is the root cause of all
our ecological and environmental problems. At their root is a philosophy
of separation and disconnection. The moment we bring that unity back:
“nature – humans: one,” we are one, we are made of nature, we are made of earth, air,
fire, water, and imagination. If that realization can come, then we can have an abundance of life,
joyful life for everybody. There is no shortage of anything,
it’s a shortage of imagination. There’s enough for everybody’s need,
but not enough for anybody’s greed, and at the moment,
our society, our industrial society is being run on the basis of greed
and not on the basis of need. Based on that reason, we are creating
so much waste and so much pollution. So we need to come back
to a very fundamental realization, and technology can help,
science can help, education can help. But science and technology can only help if we revere and respect nature, respect soil, and consider
ourselves as part of nature.

Reader Comments

  1. Para evitar discursos vazios, ainda que bem-intencionados, convém internalizar e viver palavras como as de Satish Kumar… Criaremos um futuro sustentável quando percebermos o valor intrínseco da natureza (ela é boa por si só) e aprendermos a viver em harmonia com ela. Mesmo porque não há ruptura entre ela (natureza) e a gente (seres humanos), a cisão é falha perceptiva nossa!

  2. I agree. Read Tacitus' "Germania". I think their way of living is superior to ours. Well, aside from the occasional human sacrifices. We should go back to our roots and bring a few things with us. Science is important, modern medicine is important, education is important. I think there is a way of combining these things with a more tribalistic life.

    And why leave this planet? We could work on saving it, so we don't have to leave the most beautiful planet we know of. We will never be able to find a better one anyways.

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