Ecology in the 21. century

The term ecology

When one says “ecology”, for the most part the first association is a clean environment, a concern for a clean environment, and some sort of fight against large pollutants of nature, whether on land or at sea. For some, of course, the first association is “nonsense” and “fabrication” that limits economic activity by “parasites” without a sense of entrepreneurship, but this is another topic, for another article.

One of the definitions of ecology says: “Ecology is the science that studies the relationships among living organisms, as well as their impact on the environment in which they live, and the impact of that environment on them. Although it has evolved as a branch of biology, ecology, in addition to biology, is also used in the fields of chemistry, physics, mathematics and many other natural sciences. A significant part of the population does not regard ecology as a science, nor does it attach it to science such as mathematics, physics, biology and the like. There are many reasons for this, ranging from the simple ones that imply a low level of education or poor quality of education to political ones to which science, which is capable of producing a political idea that attacks established social and economic practices, simply does not fit. In our language, there is one great construction/phrase that goes like this: “don’t wave” (ne talasaj). Since the ideas of ecology are very much “waving” (talasaju), resistance to it and frequent attacks on its credibility are more than expected.

Exploitation of the environment

For centuries, the attitude towards the environment in which we live has been reduced to one single aspect, and that is a resource for exploitation. The dramatic increase in the efficiency of this exploitation, as well as the number of people on the Planet, have inevitably led to a situation where our Planet simply begins to react in many negative ways, and it is obvious that its resources for exploration are not infinite and that this exploitation has its consequences, mostly negative, to the population living in that environment. The consequences of this exploitation and many other socio-technological changes in recent decades have made ecology as a concept an inevitable reality, and also a tool that enabled us to respond to the consequences of exploitation with no limits, as well as a tool for understanding it.

The opportunities and tools that ecology gives us are the main reason why the label of negative connotation to this term is often being glued. The reasons are, as always, banal as they come down to profit and power. Since it is clear that profit is always one of the main levers, as well as the purpose of power, the concepts that are focused on limiting the profit and the power are undoubtedly considered to be the enemies. To quote the French philosopher Michel Foucault, “where there is power, there is resistance,” – ecology, as a set of ideas, scientific concept, and a view of life, can be defined as resistance. Perhaps one of the most important resistances in the 21. century.

Ecology as a way of life

What ecology is today in the 21st century, unlike its humble beginnings, is no longer just one simple conceptual design, but rather a science, a way of life and a reflection on the world around us. In addition, ecology is becoming more and more a political platform that, from its shy beginnings, has become increasingly active and gaining importance in European countries and the United States, where the concept of the Green New Deal has emerged in the political arena. In Germany, and even in the EU Parliament, the Green Parties have made great strides in the last election, making the “weird eccentrics” an important political factor even to the extent that all traditional parties, regardless their worldview, almost overnight began to incorporate environmental topics into their programs of interest. Whether it is pure political pragmatism or a genuine change in thinking about the world around us remains to be seen. It is not so important at the moment how honest this newfound environmental awareness is, but how indicative it is that it has become indispensable to a large number of people, voters, which can have a positive effect in a democracy.

It is precisely this awareness that we live in the environment, and that our children will live in it, is what has become an active motivator to reflect on this topic, as well as to actively involve a large number of people in some kind of action related to the problems that nature, climate, industry and the old way of life are increasingly manifesting. Let’s just consider waste separation as an example. Who thought of that 10 years ago? Not a lot of people. Today, many people view this as an unavoidable standard that must be enabled for us.

Furthermore, no matter what one thinks of Greta Thunberg, the movement she is a trademark of, has made a big impact on public opinion in industrialized countries, and it demonstrated the level of support directed towards politics and politicians that place ecology high on their list of priorities. How did that happen? By active participation – active participation of thousands, hundreds of thousands and millions of people in some kind of action related to environmental topics in their communities and on the broader scale to that extent that no media construct can create anything to cover it up and banalize it.

In the end, it is fair to ask if ecology is also a fight, a struggle. In one way, it certainly is. However, what ecology is not, it is not umbiguous and useless to any community and any of its members. What ecology certainly is, is a tool that one has at his or hers disposal and that he or she should use for the benefit of their loved ones, their community, and ultimately – themselves.