This is not an ideological issue related to the irremediable hope that a better world is and must be possible.
It is known that homo sapiens has existed for approximately 200,000 years, equivalent to a minuscule space in the time that has passed since the first forms of elemental life on our planet emerged around three billion years ago.
Responses to the unfathomable mysteries of life and nature have basically been of a religious nature. It would lack sense to pretend that that was otherwise, and I have the conviction that it will always be like this. The more profound the explanations of science in relation to the universe, space, time, matter and energy, infinite galaxies and theories on the origin of constellations and stars, atoms and fractions of the same which gave rise to life and the brevity of the same, and millions and millions of combinations per second that govern its existence, the more questions humans will make in search of explanations that will be constantly more complex and difficult.
The more that human beings immerse themselves in seeking for answers to such profound and complex tasks related to intelligence, the more worthwhile are efforts to lift them out of their colossal ignorance of the real possibilities that our intelligent species has created and is capable of creating. Living and ignoring that is a total negation of our human condition.
However, one thing is absolutely certain; very few imagine how close the disappearance of our species could be. Twenty years ago, in a World Summit on the Environment in Rio de Janeiro [the Earth Summit], I spoke of that danger before a select audience of heads of state and government, who listened with respect and interest, although with no concern about the risk that they perceived at a distance of centuries, perhaps millennia. For them, without any doubt, technology and science, plus an elemental sense of political responsibility, would be capable of confronting it. That significant Summit ended happily with a large photograph of important figures. There was no danger of any kind.
Climate change was barely mentioned. George Bush Senior and other luminaries of the Atlantic Alliance enjoyed the victory over the European socialist camp. The Soviet Union was disintegrated and ruined. A vast hoard of Russian money passed into Western banks, its economy fell apart, and its defense shield against NATO military bases had been dismantled.
The former superpower that contributed the lives of more than 25 million of its sons in World War I, was left only with the strategic response capacity of nuclear power, which it had been obliged to create after the United States secretly developed the atomic weapon launched on two Japanese cities, when the adversary, defeated by the uncontainable advance of the allied forces, was no longer in combat conditions.
Thus began the Cold War and the manufacture of thousands of thermonuclear weapons, constantly more destructive and precise, capable of annihilating the population of the planet several times over. Nevertheless, the nuclear confrontation continued, weapons became still more precise and destructive. Russia is not resigned to the unipolar world that Washington is trying to impose. Other nations like China, India and Brazil are emerging with uncommon economic force.
For the first time, the human species, in a globalized world replete with contradictions, has created the capacity to destroy itself. That is compounded by unprecedented weapons of cruelty, such as bacteriological and chemical weapons, napalm and live phosphorus, which are used against civilian populations and enjoy total impunity, electromagnetic weapons and other forms of extermination. Not one corner in the depths of the earth or sea would remain beyond the reach of the current military means.
It is known that, in these ways, tens of thousands of nuclear artifacts, including those of a portable nature, have been created.
The greatest danger is derived from the decision of leaders with such decision- making faculties, in that error and insanity, so frequent in human nature, could lead to incredible disasters.
Almost 65 years have gone by since the first nuclear artifacts were exploded, resulting from the decision of a mediocre subject who, after the death of Roosevelt, remained in command of the powerful and rich U.S. power. Now eight countries – in their majority with the support of the United States – have those weapons, and a number of others have the technology and resources to manufacture them in a minimum space of time. Terrorist groups, alienated by hatred, could be capable of turning to them, in the same way that terrorist and irresponsible governments would not hesitate to use them, given their genocidal and uncontrollable conduct.
The military industry is the most prosperous of all and the United States is the largest exporter of weapons.
If our species should be liberated from all the abovementioned risks, another and even greater, or at least inescapable, one exists: climate change.
Humanity today has seven billion inhabitants and soon, within a space of 40 years, it will reach nine billion, a total nine times greater than barely 200 years ago. In the times of Ancient Greece, I venture to suppose that we were approximately 40 times less throughout the planet.
The most astounding aspect of our era is the contradiction between imperialist bourgeois ideology and the survival of the species. It is no longer about justice existing among human beings, today more than possible and something that cannot be renounced, but of the right and possibility of our very survival.
While the horizon of knowledge is extending to limits never imagined, the closer the abyss into which humanity is being led is approaching. All suffering known to date is barely a shadow of what could lie ahead for humanity.
Three events have taken place within a space of just 71 days, which humanity cannot overlook.
On December 18, 2009, the international community suffered the greatest disaster in history in its attempt to find a solution to the gravest problem that is threatening the world at this moment: the need to bring to an end, with all urgency, the greenhouse gases that are provoking the gravest problem confronted to date by humanity. All hopes had been placed on the Copenhagen Summit after years of preparation subsequent to the Kyoto Protocol, which the government of the United States – the largest contaminator in the world – had afforded itself the luxury of ignoring. The rest of the international community, 192 countries, this time including the United States, had committed itself to promoting a new agreement. The U.S. attempt to impose its hegemonic interests, in violation of elemental democratic principles, by establishing unacceptable conditions for the rest of the world in an anti-democratic manner, in virtue of bilateral commitments with a group of the most influential countries of the United Nations, was utterly shameful.
The states comprising that international organization were invited to sign a document that is nothing more than a joke, and which merely mentions theoretical future contributions to halt climate change.
Not even three weeks had gone by when, at dusk on January 12, Haiti, the poorest country in the hemisphere and the first to put an end to the odious system of slavery, suffered the worst natural disaster in the known history of this part of the world: an earthquake of magnitude 7.3 on the Richter scale, at just 10 kilometers of depth and at a very short distance from the shores of its coast, struck the capital of the country, in whose flimsy houses made of mud the vast majority of people who were killed or missing lived. A mountainous and eroded country of 27,000 square kilometers, where firewood constitutes virtually the only source of domestic fuel for nine million people.
If there is one place on the planet where a natural disaster has constituted an immense tragedy it is Haiti, a symbol of poverty and underdevelopment, inhabited by the descendants of those transported from Africa by the colonialists to work as slaves for white masters.
The event moved the world in all corners of the planet, shaken by film footage circulated that bordered on the incredible. The wounded, bleeding and gravely injured moved among the corpses pleading for help. Under the rubble were lying the lifeless bodies of their loved ones. The number of fatal victims, according to official sources, is in excess of 200,000 people.
The country was already under the control of the MINUSTAH forces that the United Nations sent in to restore the order undermined by Haitian mercenary forces which, at the instigation of the Bush government, attacked the government elected by the Haitian people. Some of the buildings in which soldiers and chiefs of the peace forces were resident also collapsed, causing distressing victims.
Official reports estimate that, apart from the dead, around 400,000 Haitians were injured and several million, almost half of the total population, were affected. It was a veritable test for the world community which, in the wake of the shameful Denmark Summit, had the duty to show that the developed and rich countries were capable of confronting the threats of climate change to life on our planet. Haiti must constitute an example of what the rich countries should do for the Third World nations in the face of climate change.
One can believe it or not, defying the data, in my judgment irrefutable, of the most serious scientists of the planet and the vast majority of the most instructed and serious people in the world, who think that, at the current rate of global warming, greenhouse gases will raise the temperature not only by 1.5 degrees, but up to 5 degrees, and that the average temperature is now the highest in the last 600,000 years, far before human beings existed as a species on the planet.
It is totally unthinkable that the nine billion human beings who will inhabit the earth in 2050 could survive such a disaster. The hope remains that science itself can find a solution to the energy problem which currently obliges the consumption in 100 years the rest of the gaseous, liquid and solid fuels that nature took 400 million years to create. Perhaps science can find a solution to the necessary energy. The question is to know how much time and at what cost human beings can confront the problem, which is not the only one, given that many other non-renewable minerals and grave problems require solutions. But we can be sure of one thing; on the basis of all the concepts known today: the closest star is at four light years from our Sun, at a velocity of 300,000 kilometers per second. A spaceship could possibly cover that distance in thousands of years. Human beings have no alternative but to live on this planet.
It would have seemed unnecessary to approach the issue if, just 54 days after the Haiti earthquake, another incredible quake of magnitude 8.8 on the Richter scale, whose epicenter was at 150 kilometers distance and 47.4 depth northeast of the city of Concepción, had not caused another human disaster in Chile. It was not the largest in the history of that sister country; it is said that another one had a magnitude of 9 degrees, but this time it was not just a seismic phenomenon; while in Haiti a seaquake that did not materialize was anticipated, in Chile the earthquake was followed by an enormous tsunami, which appeared on its coast from 30 minutes to one hour afterward, according to the distance and data that is not as yet known with precision, and whose waves extended to Japan. If it had not been for Chilean experience in the face of earthquakes, its more solid constructions and its greater resources, the natural phenomenon would have cost the lives of tens of thousands or possibly hundreds of thousands of people. At any rate, it caused around 1,000 fatalities, according to official data, thousands of injured and possible more than two million people suffered material damage. Almost the totality of its population of 17.94 million inhabitants suffered terribly and are still suffering from the consequences of the quake, which lasted for more than two minutes; its reiterated aftershocks; and the terrible scenes and suffering left by the tsunami along its thousands of kilometers of coast. Our homeland is in full solidarity and is morally supporting the material effort that the international community has the duty to offer Chile. If it was in our hands, from the human point of view, the people of Cuba would not hesitate to do so for the sister people of Chile.
I believe that the international community has a duty to inform with objectivity the tragedy suffered by both peoples. It would be cruel, unjust and irresponsible not to educate the peoples of the world on the dangers that are threatening us.
Let the truth prevail above the ignoble acts and lies with which imperialism deceives and confuses the peoples!
Fidel Castro Ruz
March 7, 2010
Translated by Granma International