Small Solutions Guide - ideas, facts, actions and connections for the era of Climate Breakdown
By Katarina Kostic
Welcome to Small Solutions Guide!
This may be a small guide but I can assure you it has big intentions! It is a token of our deep conviction that every action counts and that together we can make a real change happen.
The new section of the Guide will be published monthly and you, dear reader, are invited to comment and share your thoughts, ideas and stories and to build it together with us as our joint step towards the future we desire.
I am looking forward to hearing from all of you!
As I write these lines, in September 2019, forests are burning all over the planet. Large areas of the Amazon and Congolese forests are on fire and the Siberian taiga has been like this for more than four months. There were also large fires in Spain, Angola, Australia, Indonesia, Bolivia, Peru, Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique this summer. It will inevitably affect the climate, so further rises of the earth's temperature and oceans are expected, all of which will continue to damage already fragile ecosystems around the world with the magnitude and consequences of which are still unknown.
Now more than ever, it's time for us to act! It is up to all of us as individuals and as groups, friends, neighbours, families and communities to rethink - in our small and large human ecosystems, our ways of living, to adapt old and look for new ones that will give us the possibility to exist in nature, and not, as we did until now, out of her. That said, it sounds like we were a parasitic species but we are definitely not. Maybe our civilization is.
Indigenous tribes are the best proof of that. For thousands of years they have lived, and continue to do so, in harmony with their environment, as another part of the natural ecosystem to which they belong. Adapting continuously and at the same time transforming their habitat so that it becomes increasingly lush, rich and diverse and not only for them, but for the whole community of living creatures. Our current system works under the very different hypothesis which presumes that the Earth's ecosystems are a subset of the economy and that they belong to humans. This wrong reasoning leads to a disastrous management of natural resources because it forgets that Homo Sapiens are only one of the millions of species that depend on them.
There is a very useful metaphor to describe the present situation. Imagine that we are the astronauts and the Earth is our spaceship, as economist Kenneth Boulding did in the sixties. We will see that the amount and diversity of resources we have on board limits our activities and aspirations. We cannot use something that we have not brought with us. No way we can go to the beach or walk with a dog but it seems our present global culture does not obey the same logic. Every year more natural resources are spent than ecosystems can generate; the fact which comes with increasingly worrying socio-environmental price. Incessant deforestation and destruction of forests, pollution and misuse of world water sources exacerbate even more growing problems facing our civilisation: climate breakdown and the mass extinction of plants and animals - disappearance of our evolutionary partners and our common habitat.
"The great forgetting" is a term that Daniel Quinn coined to describe the wealth of knowledge that our culture lost when we adopted a new “civilised” lifestyle some ten thousand years ago, soon after the last Ice age. The understanding that allowed indigenous cultures to survive until today; the memory that once we had all been tribal and the comprehension that we were the same culture - one that embodies an ethic of appreciating, stewarding and sharing the generosity of the Earth. Human beings are now in a position to have a much greater impact on this community of terrestrial life than the vast majority of the other species with whom we share the planet. It is an evolutionary inheritance of ours, without a doubt, but it carries a great responsibility - to think of
other beings, other ecosystems, and their lasting benefits when we carry out any type of social action, the economy included.
The second of the ethical remedies would be to understand that every euro expended equals a tangible amount of natural resources that may still be in the wild state.
If we knew, for example, that of 20 euros spent some will be used to clear forests and produce loads of plastic, we would think more about what we buy and where.
And if we all start to buy our food from local farmers committed to the environment, we would care much more about having good rains in spring and an abundant harvests in summer to offer us a wide variety of products that we could ferment in autumn to preserve them for
There would be much less food waste (right now one third of global
food production is lost or wasted annually), we would go from intermediaries and excessive transport costs (and its terrifying carbon footprint) to supporting and encouraging the local economy and protecting nearby ecosystems while eating healthier, more nutritionally balanced and seasonal foods.
There are so many things we can do. It’s still not too late. We can join activist groups, support school strikers for climate, we can participate and donate to projects aiming to restore and preserve natural habitats and empower local communities. We can vote for parties and people able to envision our world without extracting and burning fossil fuels who have a strong will to make a radical shift forward.
On the personal, more practical level, cooking and sharing, making, recycling, reusing, arranging and composting are good places to start. Motivating and supporting children to know nature better and feel part of her is even more so. Because to protect her, they need to love her.
Just imagine how exuberant and marvellous our world is going to be (once again) when we start living and working with nature and not against her!
About the author:
Originally from Belgrade, I am a nature lover living and working as an entrepreneur and writer in Barcelona for the last 15 years.
Some ten years ago, while doing a master's research on Climate Change Agrobiology, I came to realise the immensity of the problems facing our world - climate breakdown and the mass extinctions. So I decided to focus my future professional and personal development in building a better and more just future for the whole community of terrestrial life, humans included :)
Since then, I've immersed myself in projects related to protection and conservation of natural habitats and sustainable development.
I design food forests, have a small fermentation startup and I regularly give lectures and workshops on functional foods and permaculture. Recently I finalised work on my first book for children about beneficial microbes and the human ecosystem. I am passionate about ancient history and cultures, research vastness of indigenous knowledge and have a philosophical problem with the word “prehistory”.