Biopolicy: A Global Vision and Solution
for Building a Society of Hope
by Dr. Agni Vlavianos-Arvanitis
President and Founder, Biopolitics International Organisation
Saving the Continuity of Bios – A Long-Term Vision in Sustainable Development:
Our world is experiencing a serious crisis in values. Arrogance and lack of vision in international policy has led to an unprecedented rate of environmental degradation and abuse. The very continuation of “bios” – life on our planet – is threatened by global warming, climate change, a declining resource base, the loss of species and habitats, inadequate water supplies, desertification. All are global problems, requiring global solutions and a new level of international cooperation and action.
A society that values the protection of the environment can find solutions that benefit and save life. The right mindset, appropriate technology, and, above all, a bios-enhancing vision in international policy will lead us to new and better energy resources. Since its inception in 1985, the Biopolitics International Organisation (B.I.O.) has been working to inspire such a vision, by promoting “biopolicy” in every human endeavor.
We do not lack the technology or the know-how necessary to integrate sustainable development into our economies. What we urgently need is a new approach that will help us realize the urgent need for action. Curbing environmental deterioration and securing the continuity of life on our planet is a paramount challenge; its ethical, political and socio-cultural aspects necessitate an urgent paradigm shift in society as a whole. Because resources are abundant, we think we can overconsume. A fraction of the quantity of natural resources used today could power our economies, if utilized more efficiently and less wastefully.
Deep in our hearts we are all aware of what is going on, and in ten-years time we will all agree there is no other alternative. Our society resembles an inverted pyramid, where nothing is in balance because we have based the whole structure on the wrong priorities. In the mid 1980s, who could have predicted that political regimes, which seemed invincible, were soon to collapse? Time is running out and, unless we espouse new thinking, the future of humanity and all life on our planet, will be at stake.
The ‘Bio-Assessment’ of Technology – Environmental Responsibility:
Technology expands human potential but can also have disastrous consequences for the state of the environment and life on our planet. Technological development that proceeds without concern for its impact on the environment is not viable. Only new technologies that prevent pollution, rely on clean energy sources and encourage resource conservation should be further researched and pursued. Moreover, progress in every field of human endeavor should be evaluated in terms of its contribution to environmental appreciation and protection. Policy on industry-related risks, scientific research in and development of clean technologies and nuclear safety and radiation protection, must be implemented globally.
Solutions to environmental problems and the development and implementation of environmentally sound technologies require a range of different disciplines and skills, and, in particular, imagination and innovation. The “bio-assessment of technology,” as promoted by B.I.O., involves a thorough re-evaluation of priorities in technology and the development of initiatives that respect and help the environment. These initiatives include environmentally friendly technology, which should always be carried out with the aim of protecting every form of life on our planet. A deeper ethical commitment is needed towards the environment and all forms of life.
Environmental pollution and degradation do not respect international treaties and state boundaries. Informing the public and soliciting their active participation in the debate about ethics concerning the environment is a crucial and urgent task if destructive trends are to be curbed. Establishing codes of environmental ethics for all professions and assessing technological developments on the basis of environmental criteria would contribute to the elevation of our ethical responsibilities towards the environment into everyday decision-making and lead to greater respect for the gift of life, the most precious possession on our planet. The bio-assessment of technology can inspire new bioethical values in society thus placing respect for the environment at the core of every academic and professional initiative.
We are interdependent with the whole natural environment, with all forms of bios. If bios is systematically destroyed in the name of progress, there can be no gain. It is our unquestionable ethical responsibility to assess human progress in the context of partnership, equity, and balance among all forms of life on our planet. The ethical foundation found in medicine, stemming from the oath of Hippocrates, needs to be expanded into other fields. The anthropocentric view of the world, in which the environment was seen as existing for the benefit of humans, needs to be supplanted by a biocentric view, which promotes respect for all forms of life. Codes of ethics which incorporate these values should be developed and broadly adopted in the scientific and engineering fields, as well as in business. A universal understanding of environmental ethics must be developed for the chain of life to survive.
Biopolicy for Alternative Energy – Meeting the Global Energy Challenge:
Every scope of human activity would benefit from advancements in alternative and renewable energy, which is cheap, abundant, and sustainable. B.I.O. promotes a search for new solutions, the implementation of relevant policies, and socially conscious decision-making by governments, business sectors and individuals. Through our many educational programs we are also hoping to inform all members of society on the various possibilities and concerns in this field so that they may make sound and educated decisions.
The environment has always provided a variety of options for alternative and renewable energy sources. Some alternatives have been used for years and others are still being developed. For example, biomass energy that has been used in developing countries is becoming increasingly common in industrialized countries as well. Biomass can be used to produce electricity, transportation fuels, or chemicals, which can replace petroleum and other non-renewable materials in wood adhesives, molded plastic, and foam insulation. Moreover, the use of biofuels, such as ethanol, which can be mixed with gasoline, results in less carbon monoxide emissions from vehicles and has resulted in the design of advanced vehicles.
Considerable importance has also been placed on the research and development of clean energy sources, such as solar power and photovoltaics, wind, waves, geothermal energy, hydrogen and fuel cells. Sunlight, or solar energy, can be used directly for heating and lighting homes and other buildings, heating water, generating electricity, and for a variety of commercial and industrial uses. Wind, driven by the sun’s heat, produces energy that can be captured with turbines and converted into electricity. Wind turbines function alone or can be connected to a utility power grid or combined with a photovoltaic system. Stand-alone wind turbines are used for pumping water and for communications. Some estimates have shown that wind can potentially provide around one tenth of the world’s power. That would cut down dioxide emissions by a billion tons a year. Geothermal energy taps the Earth’s internal heat to produce electricity and to heat and cool buildings. The ocean’s tidal energy and wave energy, as well as the temperature difference between surface and ocean depths, can be used to produce electricity.
In the realm of hydrogen and fuel cell technology, advancements have opened the door to the development of a quiet, clean source of energy. Fuel cells utilize the chemical energy of hydrogen to produce electricity and thermal energy. Water is the only by-product emitted if fuel cells use hydrogen directly, and they can achieve higher efficiencies than the internal combustion engine. Current fuel cell efficiencies are in the 40% to 50% range, with up to 80% efficiency reported when used in combined heat and power applications. We should celebrate these achievements and find inspiration in them in order to persevere in our efforts.
Many of the obstacles faced in the implementation of alternative energy policies by the global community are attributed to the absence of compliance with international agreements, such as the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is a step in the right direction by assigning mandatory targets for combating climate change, but it is not the answer. Its shortcomings are clear in that greenhouse gas emissions are translated into a financial market lacking long-term value. The success of the Kyoto Protocol is not a question of which nations have endorsed it. Emissions trading and carbon credits just postpone the problem for the future. More in-depth research and planning is necessary in order to overcome the hurdles that exist and to accelerate the development and availability of alternative energy in every corner of the world, through forward-looking initiatives for the promotion and protection of bios. This is the goal and vision of biopolicy.
Inspiration through Progress – Redefining the Concept of Profit:
Governments and international institutions are encouraging sustainable development through both the financing of projects and the implementation of various policies. As a result, corporate environments are changing. Businesses are realizing that it is essential to achieve a developmental framework that places people and the planet before profits. Managing the environmental program in an industrial or commercial facility has become an increasingly complex and challenging assignment owing to the expanding maze of environmental laws and regulations and the growing public expectations regarding environmental protection. To be effective, program and policies promoting greener products, the use of fewer natural resources, and lower impacts and risks to the environment, must be based on an overall framework of biopolicy, which will help to focus every activity on the consequential task of saving the environment and life on our planet.
Businesses recognize that a good profile within the community can be strengthened by displaying a strong environmental ethic. With pro-environmental shareholders entering into dialogue with decision makers, corporate behavior on the environment can be steered towards a direction that can meet the needs and demands of the global public and civil society. To succeed in capturing new markets, the enterprises of the future will have to align their growth strategies with providing solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges: clean energy, the protection of natural resources, safe water and food. Corporate social and environmental responsibility have entered the mainstream, as companies are facing growing pressure to be responsible citizens. When companies minimize their environmental risks and foster ethical policies, they may also gain a competitive advantage by reducing costs, improving the quality of their products and services, and gaining access to new markets. As many public and private investors refuse to endow companies that pollute the planet and place the health of the world’s population at risk, investments are increasingly directed towards businesses that meet the basic standards of environmental responsibility.
Corporations and entrepreneurs can work together to tackle the challenge of sustainable development. A grassroots mobilization and public participation, on both the local and international levels, can enhance the establishment of bios-supporting economic strategies worldwide. Preserving the wealth and beauty of our natural resources, removing sources of pollution, securing the health of the Earth’s population, providing fair rules of trade, and guaranteeing equal educational opportunities for every citizen in the world is of genuine value to society. The concept of “profit” has to be redefined and encompass elements which constitute a true gain for humanity: health, quality of life, culture, biodiversity, clean energy, secure and safe resources. A three-dimensional approach to economics, with the environment at the core of all structural and fundamental policies, would help to replace current fragmented approaches and focus every activity on a developmental framework with long-term value.
Green Salary – biopolicy in business
The urgency of addressing the global problems of unemployment and environmental degradation suggest that a mutual solution may be available. Many young people are entering the labor market with few skills and even fewer opportunities for productive work. At the same time, the global environment continues to be degraded. Sustainable employment in the environmental field opens the possibilities for disadvantaged groups and youth to develop their employment potential and also creates new work opportunities. Rather than providing conventional benefit payments to the unemployed, they could be offered the opportunity to work in some area related to the protection or restoration of the environment and earn a “green salary” for their contribution. The opportunities abound, as many environmental problems exist today that can be ameliorated by human intervention. Reforestation and efforts to contain desertification and soil erosion are examples. Moreover, the growing embrace of alternative energy is rapidly creating new jobs in the design, manufacturing, installation, servicing, and marketing of new technologies and products. Jobs also arise indirectly from the supply of raw materials, transportation, equipment, and professional services. In the transportation sector, the use of hydrogen and fuel cells are creating a new concept of car technology and resulting new areas of research and development. Advancements in solar energy and the use of environmentally friendly construction materials have led to the creation of green buildings. Some green buildings are now completely and solely powered by solar thermal and electric energy that operates all systems, including heating, cooling, lighting, computers, water pumps, and office equipment.
If we are to succeed in reversing global environmental degradation and limiting poverty, young people everywhere must be imbued with a love and respect for the environment. What can be better than a “hands-on” approach to protecting the environment?
World Referendum and a Bank of Ideas:
Access to knowledge with modern communication technology enables global participation in the race to save the environment, empowers sustainable development, and increases awareness of our bioethical responsibilities. As first proposed by B.I.O. in 1992, communication technology can help humanity to dynamically voice its concern over environmental deterioration and all its bioethical considerations. A “World Referendum” for every citizen to simultaneously cast a vote for the environment, would result in a global mobilization for the reversal of destructive trends and would guarantee a brighter future.
A world vote on the environment cannot be successful without the contribution of the media. The media coordinate and correlate information, thus shaping and inspiring social and cultural attitudes. The power of the media in influencing public opinion as well as the infrastructure available can make the implementation of a simultaneous vote on bios a reality in every corner of the world.
To be effective in responding to environmental and bioethical challenges, it is essential to stop reinventing the wheel. Owing to poorly coordinated efforts, valuable time and resources are wasted while damage to bios persists. The knowledge and technology to prevent further destruction are available, but they have to be disseminated more efficiently. An electronic “Bank of Ideas,” where any interested party may contribute information or thoughts concerning the protection of the environment and bios, can promote an expedient transfer of know-how that will help to harness pollution and environmental deterioration and put an end to wasteful and unethical practices.
Bio-Diplomacy – An International Effort in Defense of the Environment:
Bio-diplomacy – international co-operation in environmental protection – is a concept pioneered by B.I.O. at a time when civic leaders, international organizations, and the world community as whole had not fully realized the urgency of adopting common environmental policy as a priority. It focuses on the interdependence of all forms of life and calls upon diplomats and people of influence to engage in a collective endeavor in defense of the environment. Joint efforts to protect the environment can boost international relations and act as a bridge between global impetus and decision-making at the national and local levels.
Bio-diplomacy is an opportunity for the aspirations of sovereign states and civil society to converge in pursuit of long-term international environmental policy and action. At the same time, bio-diplomacy actively supports efforts to maintain biological and cultural diversity and seeks to improve human relations and to attain the goal of world peace by replacing current diplomatic attitudes with a complete international and intercultural perspective. Within this framework, respect for human rights and the existence of multi-ethnic and multi-cultural societies is an undeniable principle.
Peace cannot be achieved in a world ravaged by pollution, hunger and disease. We need to build a sound society, which can lead humanity to a brighter future. A bios-promoting vision, one that places the ethics of bios at the heart of societal structure, can provide the necessary framework to end wars and civil strife and to achieve a world in which the gift of bios is truly appreciated.
Environmental pollution and degradation do not respect international treaties and state boundaries. Unless a universal understanding of bioethics evolves, the very continuation of the chain of life on our planet will be at stake. Informing the public and soliciting their active participation in the debate about ethics concerning the environment is a crucial and urgent task if destructive trends are to be curbed. Assessing technological developments on the basis of environmental criteria would contribute greatly towards elevating bioethical considerations into a priority in decision-making at every level.
Bio-Education – The Role of
To succeed in expanding the vision of sustainable development, education must be directed at creative and thoughtful action for the development of the highest potential of each individual for the benefit of the world and future generations. The purpose and responsibility of bio-education is to uplift the spirit of humanity and to reverse the crisis in values that has resulted in serious environmental deterioration. By providing interdisciplinary models with environmental considerations in every specialty, bio-education seeks to apply environmental protection to every human endeavor.
To implement the ideals of bio-education,
B.I.O. launched the
A View to the Future:
Can we hear the ticking clock of destruction? If life is annihilated in the name of progress there can be no gain. It is our unquestionable ethical responsibility to assess progress in the context of partnership, equity, and balance among all forms of life on our planet. We urgently need an environmental vision to help us make the survival of bios our collective priority. This vision can bring environmental concerns to the core of society, by setting out the challenges we face on the reduction of biodiversity, the deterioration of environmental quality, the decline of natural resources and conventional energy supplies, and the need to reinforce sustainable development policy with a view to the future.
Our common enemy is the destruction of bios, and we need to join forces to mount an adequate response to the environmental crisis. International collaboration is key in securing the well-being and survival of future generations. Education through the International University for the Bio-Environment, public participation in the form of a World Referendum to save bios, awareness-raising and the involvement and mobilization of individuals from all walks of life, are some of the initiatives launched over the past twenty years by B.I.O. in the struggle to protect bios and guarantee a better future for all.
Humanity has been given a final opportunity to respect the close relationship that exists between its actions and the environment. In order to promote equity and improve quality of life, we need a vision that can help us to set an international agenda for correcting the inequities of the past. Protecting and managing the global environment rationally will be the most challenging task for the new millennium. Technology has become infused in every field of human endeavor. Like a new Prometheus with sensitivity and prophecy, it has provided light and fire and has made possible the advent of a new era. This ability must be tempered with a solid base of fundamental values in order to lead to a better future. The current crisis in values is a great threat, not only to the environment but also to peace. This is why there is a pressing need for biopolicy as a global solution to help motivate every citizen to protect the environment and contribute to the building of a society of hope.
With wings of the soul
I touch the golden waves of infinity
around, heavenly beauty like light
sparkles rays with colors of flowers
whispers the soil, awakens the earth
not like a mother, just like a daughter
of the cycle of wear
and the infinite of the eternal
the melody of the universe
is surrounded by the rhythm of harmony
Oscillations, A Collection of Poems, 1983
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Author’s Note: All of the above references are available electronically at www.biopolitics.gr
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