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Climate change, desertification and poverty are consequences of materialism, greed and self-interest: Ecosystem Ambassador John Liu from The Commonwealth Foundation argues that we are now witnessing the results of reckless exploitation of ecosystems and humans, and that consciousness is necessary to overcome our state of confusion and prevent the dangerous consequences of materialism.


"When we pursue materialism or power over others, then what we are seeing is the representation of greed and self-interest and we know what the result of greed and self-interest are. We can see it in desertification, deforestation, climate change and poverty. What we have not yet understood is the result of generosity and consciousness. And when there is a higher level of consciousness then what you see around you is reflected in this way. The poverty and despair and destruction in many parts of the world is understandable. Slavery, colonization disrupted these societies, their cosmologies, their world-views were suppressed and they said the world is sacred, all living things are sacred, the water is sacred, they could drink from the rivers. There was wildlife everywhere. So to suggest that progress is to go in and kill people and say “now your land is my land” is a ridiculous idea. It is not a justification to say “I stole it and it is mine”. It is much better to see that we are all human beings that we are part of a species.

We cannot go back in time and change these things, which happened. We determine the future. So what will the future be? Will it be a continuation of the past or are we at a moment where we can process what has happened in the past? Similar to when Gandhi was explaining that “I stole it and it is mine” is not a real justification. And when human society understood that, it brought down the British Empire but not only that, it brought down the whole concept of colonization. We still have institutions, we still have laws, we still have hierarchies, which are based on inequity.

The results of continuing that are more of the same but we are now at the end of this because you cannot go on and is not simply that poor people or oppressed people are going to suffer, everyone suffers. So those who would like to maintain the status quo are not benefiting by this either, so they are in a kind of confusion, a state of confusion and it is necessary to see that together, we have to go forward together as a species on a planetary scale. If we do not do that, the science tells us that the consequences are really dire."