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Today, all of the scientific, political and civil communities have widely acknowledged that human activity has a significant and detrimental impact on the functioning of Earth's system. They have observed a global decline in the Earth system since the end of the 18th century, and an exponential acceleration in indicators of change since 1945 and the start of the 30-year post-war boom. Our human influence is so intense that it is impacting all of the Earth's environment. To cope with these major changes, the scientific community which determines geological time-scales (the IUGS) has defined an epoch change, propelling us from the Holocene (starting around 11,000 years ago) to the Anthropocene, a new geological epoch called “the Age of Man”. Humanity has, therefore, become a geological force. Homo sapiens, also known as “modern man” is, however, the last living species representing the Homo genus which belonged to the primate order. The first fossils that were found of this species date back to around 300,000 years ago which raises a question: Why did Homo sapiens wait until the end of its 300,000 years to have an impact on the Earth system?

In the documentary, Vandana Shiva helps provide a few possible answers. She redirects our thinking to the West’s view of the world. In the wake of the industrial revolution, Western man gradually dedicated his life to work, and to the demands of productivity and consumption. Frantically drawing from the planet’s resources and enslaving other humans in the process to achieve this, we move through the world around us with a view that was distorted through an economic, scientific and industrial lens. Therefore, the adjective “sapiens” is tinged with irony, if we note that in Latin, “sapiens” means “intelligence, wisdom, common sense and cautiousness”. Our irreversible destruction of ecosystems shows, as Monica Gagliano reminds us, that we have almost completely lost our free will. In other words, our ability to choose and think freely by ourselves and without constraints. We're lacking in discernment, as highlighted by the lawyer on the defence team who maintains that technological progress only has one goal: to serve the well-being of humankind. But in his speech, he quickly demonstrates that his view is skewed and that he’s confusing the notion of progress being used for good with that of growth being used for the economic gain of a small minority. At the start of the 16th century, Rabelais, in Pantagruel, was already warning that “science without conscience is the soul's perdition”. According to him, knowledge which isn’t reflective is, essentially, useless and even dangerous, because it doesn't allow man to progress by calling his own acts into question. He had unwittingly laid the foundations for scientific ethics: it is not because we are able to do something that we necessarily have the right to do it...

In the same vein, Olivier de Schutter denounces the food industry which, under the guise of serving humanity, is causing biodiversity loss. And yet, as human beings, we form part of this biodiversity. We are deeply connected to it. We live, eat, and breathe thanks to our relationship with other plant and animal species. Without them, we would disappear. De Schutter thus introduces the concept of interdependence (discussed in more depth in Topic 4) as well as the dangers of human beings being domesticated by other human beings through technoscience. In the 1936 film Modern Times, Charlie Chaplin was already alerting us to the dangers of transforming man into machine. In the documentary Ecocide, the image of a robot bee serves as an even starker depiction of this viewpoint. But Olivier de Schutter's comments also raise a new question: doesn’t thinking that science will find all the answers serve as an escape, as a comfortable excuse for our economic system?

But where is our compass?

To continue this train of thought, the Dalai Lama addresses a major consideration. He points out that “nobody wants problems, and yet we create many of the problems ourselves”. He talks about our short-sightedness which forces us to act the way we do. To understand the reality of the situation, we are encouraged to take off our technocentric glasses and use our human intelligence to broaden our fi eld of vision. Before going any further, he asks us to observe the situation from several angles in order to get a full picture of the situation. By broadening our perspective, we would be able to have a holistic view. But he also warns that this would mean letting go of our egocentric emotions and narrow-mindedness.


It is therefore not the human soul which is intrinsically “evil”, but rather our compass which is being sent into a frenzy through the prism of our current culture. To solely condemn humanity would be to exonerate our socio-economic models.


Faced with this signifi cant growing awareness, it is clear that our leaders and their electorate are suff ering from akrasia, a weak will that is pushing us to act against the result we hoped for. All of the speakers in the documentary mention our policies and general models of organisation, production and consumption as being fully responsible for the current threats. They’re calling for more consistency between our words and thoughts, and the way we take action. To be clear: if you use a product or a service, you’re supporting the entire system that produces it. For example, it’s impossible to buy cheap cotton clothing without accepting the impact it has, as a whole, when purchasing it: the transport that was required, the use of energy and water resources needed to manufacture it, the exploitation of workers to allow for low prices, the impact of pesticides and fertilisers on the environment and on the workers’ health, the use of land where the cotton was grown, the chemical dyes used which destroy rivers, etc. Each of us make our own choices, but these choices should be conscious and honest... Consumption is a political act!


To conclude, the Dalai Lama, Samdhong Rimpoché and Sofi a Stril-Rever urge us to really examine the current critical situation. The Homo sapiens species is in danger and, in turn, so is the stability of the Earth system.The problems created by humans cannot miraculously be solved by external forces or technological advances alone. Only a brave sense of awareness in each and every one of us will allow us to face the current challenges... A call for universal responsibility!

• Anthropocene
• Human enslavement
• Free will
• Technology ethics
• Human nature VS Human culture
• Politicising environmental crises
• Individual and universal responsibility



Citymagine / Empreinte, non-profit organisation

This cooperative board game represents a town which is
experiencing various urban issues. The players will travel
to a new, more resilient town together. Far from adopting a
guilt-inducing or catastrophic approach, this game allows
us to get a glimpse of the changes by encouraging debate
and reflection.

The Story of stuff

Several short video clips (with French subtitles) allowing
for discussion on the integrity of our consumer choices.
This tool immerses us into the life cycle of products (Story
of Stuff + Story of Plastics) and into the shortcomings of
consumerism (Story of Cap and Trade) A must-watch for
analysis and discussion...


The Story of a Panty and of Those
Who Make It
/ Stéfanne Prijot

A documentary which retraces the journey of a pair of
panties, meeting all of the main players along the way... 


Le jeu de la bobine / created by several organisations

Adapted version of the “string fi gure” game to make the most of the documentary “The Story of a Panty and of Those Who Make It”. It highlights how cotton fi elds and consumers are intertwined, with clothing manufacturers and multinationals in between, and doesn’t miss anyone out along the way. These paradigm shifts are taking another direction... 


The Fisherman and the Businessman

A must-read, thought-provoking Brazilian parable. Using
humour, it illustrates that money is just another tool and that what really matters is elsewhere... Several versions of it can be found online, one of which is told by Paolo Coelho.



L’atlas de l’anthropocène / Gemenne and Rankovic

A must-read book to get a better understanding of the current crises, from climate change to loss of biodiversity, as well as overpopulation, urbanisation, pollution, natural disasters, industrial accidents, health crises, social movements, and international summits...

The construction of our servitudes / Roland Gori

This book explains the extent to which we are controlled
and details how to come out of this spiral that enslaves
individuals and populations for the sake of technical
efficiency, happiness generated by algorithms and market


Propaganda / Edward Bernays

Freud's nephew fully stands by the observation: “the
conscious manipulation of the masses is an important element in democratic society. The manipulation of this mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power.” This book gives a cynical, candid glimpse of the main principles of manipulation of the masses or “The Engineering of Consent”. 


Le syndrome de l’autruche / George Marshall

Pourquoi notre cerveau veut ignorer le changement climatique ? Livre qui aborde les émotions, le cerveau irrationnel et nos valeurs fondamentales, agrémentés de quelques clés essentielles.


La folle histoire de la mondialisation / Bensidoun et Jean

La mondialisation suscite des débats passionnés: on est «pour» la variété des produits et les petits prix qu’elle permet, on est «contre» les pertes d’emploi et la désindustrialisation, le tout mêlés d’interdépendance et d’environnement... Puisqu’on vit avec la mondialisation, mieux vaut la comprendre avant d’en débattre.


Rapport du GIEC / GIEC

Régulièrement mis à jour, ce rapport existe également dans une version « résumé pour les décideurs » de 4 pages vulgarisées et illustrées. La version 2022, contenant des constats et des solutions, est aussi instructive qu’accablante.

Rapport de l’IPBES / IPBES

Régulièrement mis à jour, similaire au GIEC dans son fonctionnement, cette plateforme d’expert analyse la biodiversité et les services écosystémiques. Ce rapport existe également dans une version « résumé pour les décideurs » vulgarisées et illustrées. Comme pour celui du GIEC, La version 2022, contenant des constats et des solutions, est aussi instructive qu’accablante.



Changez le système en vous investissant localement dans un réseau de volontaires de type : 

‣ Réseau d’échange de savoirs

‣ Réseau en transition

‣ Repair’café

‣ Groupement d’achats


En fonction de vos centres d’intérêt et de votre degré d’investissement, de très nombreuses organisations recherchent des volontaires, des militants et des activistes. Sur ce thème, nous pouvons au moins citer :

‣ Greenpeace

‣ Oxfam

‣ Quinoa

‣ Rencontres des continents

‣ Transparency International

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