Wildlife returning to the cities, ozone holes healing, pollution levels dropping. We've all heard it. Humans being locked down at homes seems to be doing good to the planet. We're all thinking it - nature is so much better without us, isn't it? But wait a second, aren't humans nature too? Why are we picking sides? There are no sides. We're all on one side and have always been. Welcome to your lesson in Eco Fascism.
Lesson 1: What is Eco Fascism?
Eco-fascism is a theoretical political model in which an authoritarian government would require individuals to sacrifice their own interests to the "organic whole of nature".
It protects structures and systems, and instead puts the onus on individuals - poor, working, individuals with little power over things other than their own behaviors. While individual change is important, it can't be solely responsible - bigger companies and governments must contribute too.
What's wrong with this philosophy is that it separates humans from nature, putting them against each other. What's good for one, must be bad for the other.
Which eventually led to the 'Nature is healing' memes last month. We're sure you saw some. We loved the humour, but in reality, humans can and must develop together with nature, and nature can heal along with advancement in human lifestyle. The two aren't different, but one and the same.
Lesson 2: But, the earth IS healing, isn't it?
Yes, and no. Yes, pollution is lower, the air is better. Do you know when else was pollution low? The Great Depression. And what followed wasn't good for nature or humans. Temporary results do not mean nature is healing and climate change crisis is over. Saying the earth is healing is myopic and insensitive to those battling the diseases on the frontline.
Human life doesn't need to suffer for the earth to heal. Moreover, a huge amount of hazardous medical waste is adding up and is an upcoming challenge for the planet.
Lesson 3: Watch your words
Words and vocabularies have a huge impact on how we perceive and understand things. Eco Fascism begins early and takes roots (pun intended) during childhood. Man-Made vs Natural is a common topic of school debates, isn't it? The Oxford definition of nature separates it from humans too, and that’s wrong.
Humans are seen as a separate villainous entity whereas nature is pitched as a helpless victim. Neither is true. Humans aren't the problem. Some humans' poor decisions are. Carbon isn't the problem - it's the building block of life. Excess carbon from fuel emissions is. Let's not blanket things, or oversimplify environmental problems. And let's not think we are against, disconnected or apart from nature.
As Rachel Carson said, "In nature, nothing exists alone”. A pandemic or a crisis for humans is a crisis for the planet too. The planet not rejoicing over it.
Lesson 4: So, What's the right way to think about this?
When you think of humans and nature as one, different kinds of solutions take shape. Minimalism and sustainability are often shown to be tough lifestyle choices that require us to give up everything we love. That is not the case.
Go for unique solutions that give you the best of both worlds. For example, choosing fashion doesn't mean you don't care for the planet. Thrift, recycle and opt for vegan brands. While buying food, opt for local and seasonal produce instead of over-packaged, imported foods. It's simpler than it is made out to be. And you're not doing anyone a favour - except yourself. You ARE nature.
The planet is not waiting for us to make a great sacrifice. All it asks for is better choices.