“Green Libraries for Green Croatia” takes Earth Day 2018 a step further
As a way of marking this year’s Earth Day, which has been celebrated worldwide on 22 April since 1970, the National and University Library in Zagreb brings the thought-provoking and action-inspiring messages of Croatia’s scholars and participants in Green Libraries for Green Croatia, the Library’s ongoing project launched in 2016 for the purpose of popularising among its users, as well as among the wider public, issues concerning the protection of the environment. Announcing Let’s Go Green, the world’s first international conference on green libraries which is organised by the National and University Library in Zagreb as part of this project, this is what they have to say to us all:
Two billion people, around more than the quarter of the world’s population, are active Facebook users, while five new profiles are created every single second. The global social network connecting millions of people may only profit from all of us accepting the repeated “friend requests” from planet Earth and replying to her many messages!
Professor Nada Zgrabljić Rotar, University of Zagreb
Evolution’s experiment, tentatively titled “human”, has so far yielded confusing results. On the one hand, there is self-centredness, isolation and destructiveness, while on the other, we may witness the rise of cosmic consciousness and an unspeakable wealth of art and knowledge. Is Mother Earth able to endure all the whims of its most intelligent child? We do not know that, and it seems better not to test Her.
Mladen Tarbuk, composer, conductor, physicist and educator
Studying Earth’s magnetic field, which most people are not aware of, while some do not even know that it exists, you realise how fragile everything is. Gently wrapped around the earth and undetected by our senses, it protects it from harmful radiation from the Sun and enables the kind of life that would be impossible without it. Without it, many forms of life on our planet would be destroyed, while the impact of that on humankind could very easily include extinction. As opposed to such destruction, radiation deflected by the magnetic field creates spectacular scenes of the polar lights in the planet’s atmosphere, reminding us of Earth’s invisible hand that protects us. We should by all means repay our unique planet by doing our most and best in protecting it back. It most certainly deserves our greatest efforts in this respect!
Berti Erjavec, Institute of Physics, Zagreb
Let us be a species that will expand into space, and not the cause of the sixth mass extinction.
Nenad Raos, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb
Stars are not eternal, therefore planets orbiting around them are not suitable for sustaining the same form of life indefinitely. On the other hand, in our galaxy there are many planets like Earth and it is possible that one day life like the one on our planet will be transferred to one of them. However, this cosmic prospect of the existence of a surrogate earth does not in any way mean that we may carelessly “spend” this one. Considering that possible new earths are very distant and still very much out of our reach based on the current technology, we should be fully aware that this earth is still the only home for many generations to come and that their very existence directly depends on the way we (will) treat the environment.
Dario Hrupec, Department of Physics, Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek
However hard we try and search the expanse all around us, we know that we have only one planet at our disposal. The day dedicated to planet Earth reminds us of how much we are connected to each other, to other living beings and how much we all depend on the natural environment sustaining life – from the conversion of the Sun’s energy into sugars through photosynthesis to a party on a nice sunny day in good company. But in the 21st century, it is absolutely necessary to remember the earth much more frequently than on that one day and come together to detect the root causes of a dangerously erroneous split between Nature and Society characterising the current planetary crisis. The flood of plastic and the existential uncertainty plaguing the younger population are two sides of the same coin, i.e. the culture of forced growth marking our global economy. Libraries, as places of preservation and transfer of knowledge, are ideal for studying growth and degrowth in the context of the pressing issues that our planet is facing today. The Let’s Go Green conference will be an opportunity to present which steps libraries are taking to daily help us remember the earth as something much more than a static background for the sometimes so careless cultural vivacity of humankind.
Mladen Domazet, Institute for Political Ecology, Zagreb
The so often used “save the planet” phrase is in my opinion very inexact and, what is more, perfectly embodies the very consequence of the self-centredness and its accompanying superiority complex that our civilisation is severely suffering from. We consider ourselves so dominant and important that we are capable of subjecting the entire natural world to our insatiable demands. However, it is precisely ourselves, both in civilisational and biological terms, that we are endangering the most by actions resulting from such destructive and reckless attitudes. We are the most vulnerable part of the global ecosystem, with our entire civilisation being nothing more but a fragile construct. We therefore have to “grow over” ourselves, finally, and make full use of all the available intellectual potential, of which there is plenty, to come up with solutions leading to true self-sustainability. Some of them are already in use, others are currently being developed, while yet others are only starting to loom on the horizon. Despite everything, I hold that we, as a species, are capable of building a sustainable society.
Nikola Biliškov, Ruđer Bošković Institute, Zagreb
During the development of their own intelligence, humans have increasingly been overlooking the intelligence of the biosphere that permeates every single form of life, from a tiny bacterium to a mighty tree, from blue-green algae to humans themselves. This amazing tangle, the life force that successfully sustains the entire ecosystem based solely on solar energy, is key for our survival. In order to survive, humans will have to embrace nature’s intelligence and start cooperating with it again. That is the only way for our planet to remain home to future generations and welcome them in a better state than we have found it in.
Bruno Motik, Green Network of Activist Groups (ZMAG), Zagreb
The fate of planet Earth must not be reduced to mere caring for the environment. If only that was so easy. Psychoanalyst and political activist Pierre-Félix Guattari rightfully warned that there is not a single ecology, but at least three, in terms of the ecology of the environment being inseparable from the ecology of the mind, which, in its own, is equally inseparable from the ecology of society. In this context, every attempt to neglect one of them at the expense of the other, or the other two, is doomed to failure. If we are striving towards real change, we have to turn our backs to narrow-minded egocentricity and our messianic impulse, and fully embrace genuine ecocentricity, which is characterised by sym-poiesis, the collective and immanent creation of unlimited finiteness, or, “staying with the trouble”, as US feminist Donna J. Haraway puts it.
Andrej Radman, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands
Take the marking of this year’s Earth Day a step further and be part of the Let’s Go Green international conference this November!