Ecocide the Modernity’s Spiritual Crisis
‘Ecocide will show us that we were wrong. And the apocalypse will come.’
Ecocide is criminalized human activity that violates environmental justice principles, as by substantially damaging or destroying ecosystems or by harming the health and well-being of a species. We understand that Ecocide has not yet been accepted as an internationally punishable crime by the United Nations. (Editor’s Note)
Interview with Paul Kingsnorth -Dublin 2019
Paul Kingsnorth gave himself over to ecology until he realized it was in vain. Nothing will stop the destruction of the planet caused by humans, he says. We will go into extinction, but the Earth will prevail
Listening to Paul Kingsnorth (Worcester, England, 1972) is devastating. He dedicated his first 20 years of activity to the ecological cause until around 2007. He realized that it was all in vain: “We are moving towards our ecocide,” he decided.
In Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, he says that there is no point in embracing Ecology or environmentalism. These have been absorbed by capitalism.
Climate change is underway, the extinction of species is advancing inexorably, and we do not wish to contain these processes. Kingsnorth says the human species will be extinct, and the Earth will regenerate over the years.
Kingsnorth recently moved to the Irish countryside. There, he could afford a vacant lot that he repopulated with ash and birch trees and where he lives with his wife and two children. Now he is immersed in a new book, in which he imagines what our life will be like in a thousand years: let alone people, who – Kingsnorth conjectures – will live wildly.
This interview meeting is at a global franchise in downtown Dublin, although he soon apologizes: “I don’t know the city well.” We then went to a cold establishment of ecological food. He takes a gift with him to his children. “Something from wood?” I asked. “Não, Lego, he answered.
Interview with Carmen Pérez-Lanzac | El País *
El Pais: Where did her disenchantment with the environmental movement come from?
Paul Kingsnorth: One day, I realized that what we were trying to do on a global scale was impossible. We would never be able to change the system. Most people don’t want to do this. The concept of sustainability was embraced by the industrial system and consumerism. The debate about how we should live in harmony with nature, which is a social, cultural, and spiritual question, has been reduced to the question of how we can reduce our emissions. Now we are starting to assume that we cannot stop climate change and talk about suffering. We are waking up to the fact that we have passed the point of no return.
El Pais: And are you still struggling to reduce your impact, or did you throw in the towel?
Paul Kingsnorth: As a family, we try to live simple lives. We use little electricity; we grow our food. But every now and then, I take a plane and buy Lego for my kids.
El Pais: You write that the world is divided between globalists and nationalists. Why is that?
Paul Kingsnorth: Politically, it is a better division than between left and right. But I would divide it between those who think globally and those who do it locally, rather than nationally.
Take the case of Brexit. It seems to me much more appropriate to think in these terms. If you look at the debate, the conversations focus on topics like the nation facing the global system. We’ve been doing for decades creating a global economic system and, as you may have noticed, Dublin looks more like London, which looks more and more like Amsterdam. We have created a uniform capitalist mass everywhere. More and more different cultures are disappearing—the people who don’t like it come from all political spectrum. More and more, they rebel against this global machine, against which they feel helpless. It is a good summary of the state of the world at the moment.
El Pais: Don’t you think that the more agreements that countries sign with each other, the more options we have to follow the right path?
Paul Kingsnorth: Yes, but there are more and more extreme right voters in the EU. Something is wrong with this model, and that makes many people turn to nationalism. People are losing so much power over their economy and their destiny to identify with the EU. Globalization has disempowered people.
El Pais: How do you think we should connect with nature?
Paul Kingsnorth: From love and connection with her. The problem is not with our carbon emissions. It goes from the feeling of attachment that we have to a forest that we know or a river. The feeling of enjoying and loving a place and wanting to protect it from the destruction that would be caused by a windmill.
As Wendell Berry said, the people who really feel a connection to the ground (Earth) will be the ones who will get their hands dirty to protect it. And this is the opposite of nationalism, which is anti-ecological. I do not understand that love for our surroundings is not cultivated in addition to cultural identity.
El Pais: And if we achieved this “localism,” what should we do then?
Paul Kingsnorth: I don’t know. I have no answers. What I do is warn about what I saw: the hearts of people in industrialized societies, like us, are completely disconnected from the places where they live. It’s nobody’s fault. It just is. We are facing a dilemma because we did things in a certain way.
Ecocide will show us that we are wrong. And the apocalypse will come. Mother nature always teaches us. I often think that accepting climate change is like accepting the end of each one of us individually, our own death.
Paul Kingsnorth is an English writer and thinker. He lives in the west of Ireland. He is a former deputy editor of The Ecologist and a co-founder of the Dark Mountain Project.
Interview originally published no El País. **The Opinions and the visions of the author are their own. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or points of view of this Magazine.
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