Who is listening to whom? – The human-environment nexus

  • December 19, 2018

Prof Andjelka Mihajlov PhD

Director & Chair (Environmental Listening) ,
Global Listening Centre.

Hopefully, the fragments I’ll introduce will help us understand why it is important to listen and hear the environment. I accepted the importance of “listening”, strongly believing that environmental listening is important, but no one grasped it focused enough so far. This text should be seen as the beginning of an initiative to realize how important environmental listening is.

And nature is loud! Maybe it’s because it hopes it will have a better chance of grabbing our attention if it “shouts”. For example, the recent hurricanes Maria, Harvey and Irma, monsoon floods in Bangladesh, mudslides in Colombia, heavy rains, severe snowfalls and cold waves (like the snow in Algeria, and the cold in Morocco), volcanoes (as in Indonesia), forest fires and droughts – they are all really loud messages. The reality is that the iceberg twice the size of Luxembourg has broken off an ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula, and we are living in a fast-warming world (we recognize it as climate change).

And do people hear nature and the environment? Or are we simply listening (pretending we didn’t hear it)?

If we did choose to hear, we’d know that every year an estimated 1.7 million children under the age of 5, and 12.6 million adults die as a result of unhealthy environments (polluted air and water, hazardous chemicals and waste).

Let me start with myself – what can I remember as the events that marked the past year. I’m thinking of family events and spending time in the open. This is good, I think to myself – I’m not a lost cause.

I asked some people the same question – and they all talked about the political situation and how much money they did or did not earn. That pretty resembles the “Business as Usual” priorities. So, they didn’t even hear, let alone understand my question. At this moment, I’m in a UN meeting, and I can’t help but wonder how much shorter would the multilateral agreement negotiations be if the participants would only hear and listen to one another.

Dedicated listening and being attentive to nature and the environment is our need.

Understanding what we hear is a precondition for changing ourselves and the world for the better. Unless we hear and understand what makes our societies more resilient to disasters, we’ll continue to pay a high price in the “currencies” such as life, health, living conditions and lifestyle. Human well-being is the outcome of development strongly linked to the state of the environment and – environmental listening.

Let’s start our adaptation to “listening” and understanding nature and the environment as of today – each of us and all of us together!


For more visit: http://www.globallisteningcentre.org/member/andjelka-mihajlov/

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